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December 21, 2016

Philadelphia to start with 3 medical marijuana dispensary permits

Pa. Health Department greenlights seven more pot facilities among Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Bucks, Lancaster and Berks counties

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is aiming to initially give out three medical marijuana dispensary permits in Philadelphia as part of the state's new law that legalizes the drug for patients suffering from select conditions.

In addition to the locations of the permits, on Wednesday morning the department announced new regulations and guidelines as part of the rollout of the law.

The next step will be to accept applications for marijuana growers and processors, as well as distributors. Applications will be posted on the department's website Jan. 17 and must be submitted between Feb. 20 and March 20.

To start, there will be 12 applications for growers and processors and 27 applications for distributors, which will be split up geographically based on the expected needs of patients.

In deciding where to give out the dispensary permits, the department divided Pennsylvania into six regions. The Southeast Region includes the following counties: Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, Schuylkill and Berks.

The Southeast Region will get 10 dispensary permits. Three of those permits are set aside for medical marijuana dispensaries in Philadelphia, two are in Montgomery County, and one permit his been allotted for each of Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Lancaster counties.

Pennsylvania's regulations allows each marijuana dispensary owner to operate up to two other dispensaries in two different counties within the same region, but not within the same county of the original dispensary.

For example, the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary in Philadelphia could operate another dispensary in Bucks County and one more in Delaware County. But the dispensary owner could not run more than one dispensary in Philadelphia County, nor could he operate one in Philadelphia and two in Bucks.

The new medical marijuana law, signed by Gov. Tom Wolf in April, is expected to be fully implemented by early 2018. By then, the state expects to have 25 medical marijuana growers and processors and 50 dispensaries.

The bipartisan legislative effort makes the drug available by prescription in pill, oil or ointment form legal for patients suffering from one of 17 qualifying conditions.