State Overview: Pennsylvania

This year, Pennsylvania has grown its medical marijuana patient base to more than 330,000 (almost 100,000 more than originally projected) and also increased its number of physicians to 2,000 and its certified laboratories to six. Almost all of the 25 grower/processors and 80 locations associated with the 50 dispensary licensees are operational, and seven clinical registrant permits have been issued to businesses that will partner with universities to commence the first-of-its-kind medical marijuana research operations. Due to the rigorous vetting process that permittees went through, coupled with a nimble and responsive Pennsylvania Department of Health, all of this fast-paced growth has been done with very few bumps in the road. The growth and stability have made Pennsylvania cannabis businesses an attractive target for acquisitions and mergers, and the local industry has also had a positive impact on Pennsylvania’s employment during the coronavirus shutdown.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, medical marijuana businesses were deemed “life-sustaining businesses” and allowed to stay open. These entities did not just stay open, they thrived. At the very beginning of the pandemic, the Department of Health, led by Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, put in place measures that would ensure patient access, including drive-up and curbside deliveries; no limit on the number of patients served by a single caregiver; reduced background checks for caregivers; telemedicine appointments; and increased limits on patient supplies from 30 days to 90 days.

Pennsylvania’s other regulations were set to expire in the middle of the pandemic (April 2020), but the Department of Health, in conjunction with Governor Tom Wolf, extended the deadline for an additional 18 months, saving operators from one more traumatic change during this tumultuous time.

In addition to a proactive administration, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana operators are some of the best of the best, with big national and international players like Jushi, gLeaf and Holistic Industries bringing vast depths of experience, and home-grown grower/processors and dispensaries like Hanging Gardens, Parea BioScience, Keystone Canna Remedies and Keystone Shops that bring passion and a community commitment. Pennsylvania also has national labs like Steep Hill confirming the safety and integrity of products. Finally, Pennsylvania has first-in-the-nation research permittees like Agronomed Biologics and PA Options for Wellness partnering with cutting-edge universities like Drexel and Penn State to perform research that will benefit all patients and industry stakeholders.

Judith D. Cassell | Cannabis Law PA

Judith Cassel is no stranger to hard work and a competitive environment – staples of the cannabis industry.  The youngest of 5 girls growing up on a farm in Hershey, PA, she was a walk-on for Penn State’s Track and Field team ending up as a 5-time Penn State record holder and NCAA Division I All-American. She later worked for Mobil Oil where she earned the prestigious “Pegasus Elite” award. She graduated in the top 25% of her law school while raising two children, running her own $10 million company, and training to qualify for the Olympics in the marathon.

Judith Cassel applies this same energy and work ethic to her medical marijuana law practice. She is a partner at Hawke McKeon & Sniscak and heads up its Cannabis Law practice area (https://cannabislawpa.com/). Judith is the Co-Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Bar’s Medical Marijuana Committee and a member of the National Cannabis Association.  Having an MBA and a business background, Judith represents clients in all aspects of their cannabis businesses from applications, litigation, acquisitions, financing, regulatory compliance, and contracting.  Judith also believes passionately in helping patients access medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids and is currently representing such a client, Mary Cease, in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, pro bono. Judith and her firm’s other Cannabis attorneys (Kevin McKeon, Micah Bucy, Melissa Chapaska, and Mariah Turner) practice in states throughout the Northeast United States.

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