By Paul G. Mullin

On January 17, 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Health issued the permit applications, and the timelines governing such applications, for medical marijuana growers/processors and dispensaries. The Department of Health has established a tight window within which it will accept applications. They will be accepted from February 20, 2017 until March 20, 2017. Furthermore, the Department of Health will only answer questions pertaining to the permitting process until February 8, 2017. Needless to say, for those applicants seeking medical marijuana permits during this application period, it is time to get your ducks in a row.

Even for those groups who have been closely following the developments of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act, the applications hold some surprises. The requirements for the various plans required by the Act, such as the diversity plan and operations plan, are far more specific and detailed in the applications than they are in the Act or previously released regulations. The applications also have new elements which have not been addressed at all previously, such as a question regarding whether an applicant has entered into an excess capacity agreement with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The Department of Health also set up a hybrid pass/fail and 1,000 point scoring system which will be used in determining which applications will be awarded permits. A thorough review of the permitting process is crucial to submitting a compliant application.

Even for those potential applicants who have not been closely following the Act and are not in a position to submit an application during this submission period, you are not closed out of the medical marijuana industry in Pennsylvania. The Act authorized twenty-five grower/ processor permits and fifty dispensary permits. During this permit period only twelve grower/ processor permits and twenty-seven dispensary permits are being issued.  If you are interested in this industry, and cannot submit an application during the first submission period, now is the time to start planning for round two.

Whether you are in the homestretch for the first application period or gearing up for the second, the attorneys in the firm’s Medical Marijuana Department can advise and assist you as you navigate this emerging industry.