House lawmakers advanced a series of changes to Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law designed to lift a court injunction that prevented the rollout of its research component.
Earlier this year, several dispensaries and growers challenged Department of Health regulations that allowed for additional permits affiliated with approved research institutions.
Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough sided with the plaintiffs, ruling that the regulations overstepped the bounds of Act 16 and the language outlining how dispensaries and growers were licensed.
That effectively put medical marijuana research on indefinite hold in the state.
The House passed a measure Monday to incorporate those research regulations into Act 16 on second consideration. House Bill 2477 will next go to a third vote in the House prior to being considered by the Senate.
The plaintiffs in the original case argued that prospective research licensees would be able to skip ahead of the line of applicants who weren’t selected for the first round of 12 grower/processor and 27 dispensary permits. It would also increase competition for the current permit holders since the research facilities could dispense medicine to anyone, not just participants in clinical trials.
State Rep. Gerald Mullery, D-Luzerne County, put an amendment–that ultimately failed–to restrict the research-affiliated dispensaries to selling only to participants in those trials.
“Otherwise, we’re just putting these eight medical institutions up against for-profit entities,” he said.
That amendment would only undermine research efforts, said Rep. Pamela DeLissio, D-Montgomery County, since setting up such programs is already difficult.
Bucks County Republican Rep. Katharine Watson, who sponsored HB2477, urged fellow lawmakers to hold fast to the intentions that resulted in the passage of Act 16 two years ago.
“Ladies and gentlemen, research shouldn’t wait anymore,” she said.
Medical marijuana sales