Policy Recommendations Pennsylvania

2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania's medical cannabis system shows some improvements since our last report. In 2019, the Commonwealth's Department of Health approved anxiety and Tourette's syndrome to the list of qualifying conditions, and modified previously existing language to extend the program to patients with chronic pain. In 2020, under the state's COVID response plan, PA permitted medical cannabis businesses to operate during COVID, allowing patients to take advantage of new preordering, curbside pickup and home delivery, and telemedicine visits for physician evaluations. While these are important system improvements, the state still has considerable work to do before its medical program is functional and effective.

ASA recommends that the state focus their 2021 legislative efforts on expanding patient access, ensuring sufficient medical cannabis products are available, and working to reduce product costs.49 One strategy Pennsylvania should consider is to allow home cultivation of medical cannabis for able-bodied patients, which can dramatically reduce costs and ensure ongoing availability of medicine.

The state should also consider expanding the volume of licensed cultivators, manufacturers, testing laboratories and medical retail facilities to safeguard against supply shortages and improve patient access, as well as authorize delivery. Other program modifications to consider include organizing patient legal protections related to housing, as well as improving training requirements for facility staff. Finally ASA recommends permanently maintaining the new access and telehealth enhancements under COVID, which greatly improve patient access and reduce patient cost burdens.