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Week in Review: Pennsylvania flower sales, Oregon’s cannabis surplus & MassRoots’ big losses

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis dispensaries get the OK to sell flower for vaping, Oregon’s marijuana glut is hurting the state’s smaller growers, and MassRoots reveals that its losses widened to $44 million in 2017.

Here’s a closer look at some notable developments in the marijuana industry over the past week.

Positive in Pennsylvania

The announcement that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries can sell dry leaf and flower for vaping is good news for the industry’s bottom line, according to a Keystone State MMJ business owner who is trying to build her company.

Corinne Ogrodnik, the CEO and co-founder of Pittsburgh-based Maitri Medicinals, said the allowance of flower will bring more patients into the program and help grow a market that could become one of the nation’s largest.

“It will be a more affordable product because we won’t have to be utilizing the equipment to process the flower and leaf into concentrates,” she said. “It will also require less intensive packaging.”

Ogrodnik also is hopeful that being able to offer flower will help her business get off the ground.

The restraints on Pennsylvania’s MMJ business owners make it a capital-intensive process, including costs for:

  • Renovating properties
  • Security
  • Medical staff

“We were looking at a few years of lean times,” Ogrodnik said, “and (flower) is really going to enable us to fully implement our business plan with the anticipation of how the market is going to expand.”

Other medical marijuana markets that allow flower for vaping require the dry plant material to be offered in a prepackaged vaping device.

Ogrodnik said it’s unclear how Pennsylvania will regulate the sale and consumption of dry leaf and flower.

She hopes dispensaries will be able to sell whole flower, rather than prepackaged or preground plant matter, and patients are allowed to decide how they will vaporize it.

No matter how it plays out, Ogrodnik believes the program is moving in the right direction.

“It demonstrates that the Department of Health supports this program working, which then translates to the viability of our business,” she added.

 

Read the full article HERE.

Pennsylvania Green Lights Medical Cannabis Program Expansion

There have been issues with launching the medical cannabis program in the state of Pennsylvania, including dispensaries experiencing a shortage of available product for patients. Despite this, the State Department of Health recently announced it would be accepting more applications for new dispensaries and growing operations in April of this year.

According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, 13 permits will be up for grabs for growers and processors, while 23 will be available for dispensaries. In addition to the permits for dispensaries and grow-ops, the expansion of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will include issuing permits to ‘clinical registrants’ for medical schools and hospitals who are interested in doing tests and much-needed research on the plant medicine.

One of those schools will likely be Thomas Jefferson University, who say they want to become an “academic clinical research center”. In 2017, Thomas Jefferson University received a donation of $3 million from Australian philanthropists Barry and Joy Lambert. The University used this donation to found the Lambert Center for the Study of Medical Cannabis and Hemp.

“This could really put Pennsylvania into the forefront of this whole controversial and challenging area,” Dr. Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center, told NBC10 after the university received the donation.

There are several other schools that are eager to run clinical tests on cannabis, including the University of Pittsburgh.

“We believe that the research will be of great importance in determining the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products in treating specific diseases,” the University of Pittsburgh said in a statement.

Even though the Keystone State’s medical cannabis program is relatively restricted in comparison to that of other states, it is the only one that has introduced research elements. Ohio and Florida have both discussed research components in their programs, but there has not been any laws on the books as of yet.

Read the full article HERE.

Philadelphia mall fight could affect state marijuana laws

A fight over a Philadelphia mall’s deed restrictions belongs in federal court because it could end up affecting the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

PharmaCann Penn LLC is challenging a deed restriction that prevents it from using the mall space it bought for any “activity or use which is unlawful.” The company has a state license and city zoning approval to operate a dispensary.

Simon Property Group Inc., the mall owner, contends the deed restriction prevents PharmaCann from opening the dispensary because dispensing marijuana is a federal crime.

 

Read the full article HERE

 

Philadelphia Medical Marijuana Case Could Have Nationwide Impact

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal judge in Philadelphia is considering whether to take a case that could have an enormous impact on the medical marijuana industry nationwide.

The case involves a dispensary permitted for Philadelphia Mills in the Northeast.

Pharma Cann got a state permit and city approval to open in a former Chi-Chi’s near the Mall, but mall operator, Simon Property, sued in federal court to block it from opening.

It claims the deed forbids “illegal activity” and that would include the dispensary since marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Pharma Cann wants the issue resolved in Common Pleas Court, arguing it’s simply a case of an outdated restrictive covenant. Its attorney, Jeremy Unruh, says Simon’s attempt to make it a federal case is unduly excessive.

“I think they’re trying to mushroom this into the bigger policy issue as to whether or not the federal controlled substances act operates to preclude all 30 of the states that now have some sort of state medical marijuana law on their books,” he said.

Simon’s attornies declined to comment.

Judge Gene Pratter has heard oral arguments and given the two sides until this week for written comments before she rules on whether she’ll keep the case in federal court and hear those bigger policy issues.

 

Read the full article HERE

Murphy orders review of medical marijuana program

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Phil Murphy is ordering his administration to review New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, which he says has been stifled over the past eight years.

The Democrat signed an executive order on Tuesday. He says the program has been difficult to access and the state will not deny compassionate care to people any longer.

Murphy didn’t cite former Republican Gov. Chris Christie by name, but he faulted the previous administration for overseeing a program “in name only.”

Murphy says he’s asking state government to focus on expanding the medical marijuana program and proposing new rules or repealing those that hamper the program.

Read the full article HERE.