Auther of this article, Chris Goldstein is a marijuana reform advocate living in New Jersey.
Zoning Boards across Pennsylvania are passing a flurry of local regulations in an effort to roll out the green carpet for medical cannabis companies.
But these hometown exercises are less about getting warehouses water connections and more about public relations campaigns by businesses to win coveted permits.
During this phase we see how the focus on medical cannabis is really about profit and not necessarily the health of patients.
We’ve seen it before in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland. It isn’t pretty.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health is taking applications for a handful of first-round permits being allowed for growing marijuana and dispensing a limited range of cannabis products. The application forms were released last month and will only be accepted during a four-week window that closes March 20.
Short deadlines, limited permits, a sexy product, and the promise to future riches have applicants falling out of the woodwork. A sudden groundswell of support has materialized despite high fees, steep liquid capital requirements and seemingly dauntless regulations.
We see investors and local officials walking hand-in-hand as businesses angle for permits from the Waynesboro Board of Education to a group of landowners in Wyoming County.
Polling shows 80 percent of Pa. voters support the use of medical marijuana. Support crosses political lines, ethnicity, class, gender and location.
Reporters and residents flock to local meetings where they find few hang-ups and a remarkable level of acceptance to the concept of an indoor marijuana farm.
On the other hand, patients are getting shuffled off to the side as all eyes remain fixed on dollar signs.
The law was passed last year to bring legal cannabis access to seriously ill patients. So far, not a single adult has been registered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In fact, no timeline has been proposed as to when exactly patients will receive legal protections or an ID card.
That means anyone with cancer, HIV, multiple-sclerosis, PTSD, or the other qualifying conditions are still getting their marijuana underground.
Recently, officials in the Delaware County community of Aston unanimously approved a potential medical cannabis site.
York County is also welcoming the medical cannabis business prospects.
In fact, marijuana possession arrests have risen steadily outside of decriminalized Philadelphia. More people seeking out cannabis for medical use could be contributing to the spike.