Pennsylvania children with severe health conditions will have access to medical marijuana as early as this summer, although sick adults in the state will wait longer, state health secretary Karen Murphy said this morning.
Murphy explained that State officials want to accelerate access for sick kids whose families “were instrumental” in the Pennsylvania law allowing the use of medical marijuana, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed April 17. The state Department of Health should have temporary regulations in place by late this year while it crafts more permanent rules for the drug within 18 to 24 months, Ms. Murphy said.
For children with one of 17 health conditions, the first wave of regulations expected in July will allow caregivers to secure medical marijuana from other states and bring it back to Pennsylvania before legal cultivation begins in the commonwealth, according to the health department. Children with cancer, autism, Crohn’s disease and epilepsy will be among the first to have legal access to marijuana.
“Their day-to-day life is severely challenged,” Ms. Murphy said of the children in need of these treatments. At a press briefing in Harrisburg, she said their caregivers will be able to register with the state and receive an identification card.
But “the reality is, it’s a very complex program in terms of implementation. We want to make sure we’re doing it right,” she said. She said adults who want medical marijuana will need to wait until the products are available inside state borders, a process that could take up to two years.
In response, more than 120 people have applied for the job of Medical-Marijuana Program Director in Pennsylvania, according to the health department.