Nearly half of all Pennsylvania dispensaries will begin selling medical marijuana in plant form on Aug. 1, with others following suit by Aug. 8, according to a Department of Health news release.
As initially enacted by lawmakers, state law mandated that patients only have access to non-herbal cannabis preparations, such as infused oils and pills. However, in April Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine approved a unanimous recommendation by the state’s 11-member Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to permit sales of cannabis flowers.
“The dry leaf form of medical marijuana provides a cost-effective option for patients, in addition to the other forms of medication already available at dispensaries,” Dr. Levine said in a prepared statement. Retail prices for medical cannabis products in Pennsylvania are among the highest in the nation.
NORML has long argued against regulations that limit or arbitrarily restrict patients’ access to whole-plant herbal cannabis. (See NORML’s op-ed, “The case for whole-plant cannabis” here.) Many patients seeking rapid relief from symptoms experience fewer benefits from cannabis-infused pills, tinctures, or edibles because they possess delayed onset compared to inhaled cannabis and are far more variable in their effects. Furthermore, isolated formulations of individual cannabinoids lack the so-called ‘entourage effect’ associated with the concurrent administration of the plants naturally occurring compounds, oils, and terpenes.
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Author: Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director