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PA expands medical marijuana program

Officials say the medical marijuana program has been successful since it's launch, and the Department of Health is apparently ready for more.

With an emphasis on the **medicinal** aspect of the drug, some are suggesting there really is no downside to the expansion.

"If it benefits people that need it, I have no problem with it," said one man we spoke with.

"If you can make is so the people who really need it can get access to it can get access to it, and the people who don't need it can't get access to it, then it would be great," said another.

People we spoke with in Harrisburg all seem to agree- medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is a good thing.

"Pennsylvania really has developed an excellent program based on a very progressive law. We have a very clinically based, medical marijuana program, and I emphasize the medical aspects of that," said Dr. Rachel Levine, PA Secretary of Health.

Dr. Levine says there are currently more than 10,000 medical marijuana recipients and 500 physicians enrolled in the state’s program, and those numbers are expected to rise.

"There's been a lot of patients, a lot of sick patients, that really are kind of out of options for the most part," said Eric Hauser, president and CEO of Organic Remedies, an already-operating medical marijuana dispensary.

Governor Tom Wolf’s administration announced Thursday that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has now entered it’s second phase.

That means permit applications are available to add up to 13 new grower-processors and up to 23 more medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

Those permits will bring the commonwealth to the limit stated in the original statute signed into law in 2016, with 25 processors and 50 dispensaries statewide.

"Our expectation is that after phase two is complete, and those licenses are given, the grower processors, the dispensaries, are up and running, the academic research programs are up and running, i think that will fill the need for patients with medical marijuana," said Dr. Levine.

Of course there are some who have their doubts, but Dr. Levine says this could also help combat the opioid epidemic, providing patients an alternative way to cope with pain.

"I'm all for this. I've been in chronic pain for over 11 years now. If they were to do that, it would really help me in my life," said a man we spoke with in Harrisburg.

"Something like medicinal marijuana would be a lot easier than handing out more opiates that are gonna get more people addicted or have more people overdose," said a woman we spoke with in Harrisburg.

A board meeting will be held on Monday to further discuss the expansion.

For more information and details of how to apply, go to https://www.Pa.Gov/guides/pennsylvania-medical-marijuana-program/#dispensaries.