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Pennsylvania’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Will Open at the Start of 2018

The nondescript dispensaries will sell cannabis oils, tinctures and vaporizers, but no smokeable flowers.

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More than a year after Pennsylvania lawmakers passed legislation to legalize the possession and sale of medical marijuana, licenses have been awarded and prospective dispensaries are beginning to get their affairs in order for a January 2018 rollout.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 52 Pennsylvania storefront dispensaries that were awarded retail licenses last week will not be able to sell pre-rolled joints or discounted ounces. Unlike medical dispensaries in California, Massachusetts, or neighboring New Jersey, patients in the Keystone State will have to choose from a variety of oils, tinctures, lotions, and vaporizer cartridges to fit the state’s law, which bans smokable marijuana.

And while some states house medical dispensaries with flashy neon signs and blatant cannabis advertising, Pennsylvania’s pot shops will be subtler, with non-descript signage and no weed-themed advertising. 

“If you know what to look for, you’ll know there’s a dispensary there,” Patrick Nightingale, a former lawyer who now heads the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society told the Inquirer. “But if you don’t, you’re unlikely to notice it.”

With no flowers for sale there will be no pungently dank smell to attract tourists or recreational stoners, and dispensaries will source their products from 12 state-approved growers and processors. Unlike some more stringent medical marijuana programs though, patients in Pennsylvania will have access to full-strength THC medicine - as long as you can’t smoke it, that is. 

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will be open to residents diagnosed with a variety of conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, ALS, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, autism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, sickle cell anemia, Huntington’s disease, and more. 

There is still time for lawsuits and bureaucratic bickering to delay the program, but it appears that the long wait for access will soon be over for Pennsylvania’s patients in need.

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