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Identity & Community

State Begins Setting Up Medical Marijuana System

Brett Levin


Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, but a lot of regulations have to be implemented before the system is completely set up. Parents who want to help their children with serious illnesses are the first priority for the state Health Department.

Health Secretary Dr. Karen Murphy says temporary rules for out-of-state purchases will be ready by next month.

Parents will be allowed to bring medical marijuana back to Pennsylvania if their child has one of 17 serious medical conditions.

The next step will be for the department to start working on regulations for growers and processors, before moving on to dispensaries, physicians, patients and caregivers.

The Health Department already has a group of employees doing the work, and Murphy says more will be hired.

She details: "The additional staff members will include an epidemiologist, it will include public health specialists, researchers, and that will be coming. Our main focus is to get these temporary regulations so we can start the program."

All the regulations won't solve one potential problem, though - what if many Pennsylvania doctors don't prescribe medical marijuana?

Dr. Murphy says she is working on it.

"We are going to, as early as this summer, convene with a group of physicians that are representative throughout the commonwealth. We are going to work really hard with them to guide us in a way that we create a program that they feel comfortable with, and we believe that that will be possible," says Murphy.

Murphy says temporary regulations will trickle out, bit by bit, between now and April 2018.

That's when the full medical marijuana system - with growers, processors, dispensaries and more -- will be ready .

The Health Department is asking for public comment on each regulation on its website

A survey on the site asks what the regulations should look like, including background checks for employees, how the marijuana should be transported, and how the state should track each seed.