Last Updated: Jul 2, 2021
On June 30, 2021, Governor Wolf signed Act 44 of 2021 (“Act”) into law. The Act makes several changes to Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program. Most provisions of the Act took effect immediately upon the Governor’s signing.
Some of the changes codify waivers, which were issued by the Governor in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, into statute. Notable changes to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program as a result of Act 44 of 2021 include the following:
Caregivers: The Act changes the definition of “caregiver” to allow for certain health care workers to be caregivers. Among such health care workers are individuals employed by an organization that is licensed under the Health Care Facilities Act that provides: hospice, palliative, or home health care services. Such individuals must have significant responsibility for managing the health care and well-being of a patient. Additionally, certain individuals designated by a long-term nursing facility, a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility, a personal care home, an independent long-term care facility, or an intermediate care facility for individuals with intellectual disabilities may also serve as caregivers. The Act also removes the previous provision prohibiting an individual from being a caregiver for more than five patients.
Continuing Care: The Act removes the in-person consultation requirement. This will allow for possible telehealth consultations.
Serious Medical Conditions. The Act expands the definition of ‘serious medical condition’ to include other conditions that are recommended by the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and approved by the Secretary of Health. Additionally, cancer remission therapy and neuropathies of the central nervous system were added to the statutory definition of serious medical conditions. The amendment of the definition of ‘serious medical conditions’ applies retroactively to May 18, 2016.
Medical Marijuana Advisory Board: The Act permits the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board to issue written reports that may contain, amongst other recommendations and findings, recommended changes to the types of medical conditions that qualify as a serious medical condition for purposes of medical marijuana certification. Previously, the Advisory Board was limited to issuing one such report. To effectuate recommendations of the Advisory Board, the Act provides that the Secretary of Health must first approve the recommended changes and then the Board’s recommendations must be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Duration of Supply: The Act allows the dispensation of a 90-day supply of medical marijuana doses. Previously, dispensation was limited to a 30-day supply.
Dispensary Interactions: The Act allows for curbside dispensing of medical marijuana. The Act also allows physicians or pharmacists to be available either in-person or through synchronous interactions for patient verification and consultation.
Temporary Regulations: The Act extends the expiration date of the existing temporary medical marijuana program regulations to May 31, 2022. The existing regulations were set to expire in Nov. 2021.
The Department of Health recently issued proposed permanent regulations to replace the existing temporary regulations. These regulations are currently working their way through the regulatory process. For more information on these proposed permanent regulations, click here.
Clinical Registrants and Dispensing Locations: The Act increases the number of clinical registrants from the previous 8 to now 10. The Act also increases the number of locations authorized to dispense medical marijuana from the previous 48 to now 60.
Federal Applicability: The Act removes certain references to the scheduling of marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act. Because of these removals, Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program will continue regardless of the federal scheduling of marijuana.
Where Can I Find Additional Information?
The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) has numerous resources to assist you with Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program requirements. Access these resources here.