States forge path through uncharted territory to legal pot

Legal weed has unleashed an entrepreneurial spirit across the USA and holds the potential to reshape communities, but voter-approved relaxation of drug laws may bring consequences we don't yet understand as we soften the war on drugs.

A USA TODAY Network investigation into marijuana legalization reveals increases in marijuana-related car crashes and in hospitalization of kids who steal their parents' pot, of black-market smuggling rings and the challenges of running cash-based businesses that can’t use traditional banks because of federal regulations.


PA Launches Physician Registry For Medical Marijuana Program

Physicians in Pennsylvania can now register to participate in the state’s forthcoming medical marijuana program.

The state Department of Health announced on Wednesday the launch of its online practitioner registry, open to anyone with current medical licenses -- acquired through medical or osteopathic doctorates -- who actively treats patients with one of 17 serious medical conditions.

Those conditions include inflammatory bowel syndrome, sickle cell anemia, cancer, HIV/AIDS and more.

Acting Health Secretary Rachel Levine said it will be important for the department to know which physicians will be evaluating patients and referring them to dispensaries for treatment.


Pennsylvania's auditor general renews call for legal recreational marijuana

The state Auditor General is not stopping his call for legalized recreational marijuana in the commonwealth.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale came out in support of legal recreational marijuana earlier this year, saying revenue from taxes could reach $200 million.

Now he says on top of helping ease the state's financial issues, legal pot could be a useful tool in fighting the opioid epidemic.

DePasquale says research shows there are 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdose in states that permit medical marijuana use.


Getting Doctors Certified Is next Step to Dispensing Marijuana in Pennsylvania

Since medical marijuana has been legalized in Pennsylvania, several businesses have received permits for dispensaries.

But that doesn't mean the drug will be dispensed any time soon.

The state is still hammering out regulations governing which doctors will dispense marijuana and which patients are eligible to receive it. These hurdles will keep the drug from being handed out legally until 2018.


Why medical marijuana shops in PA. won't reek

Walk into a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey and the first thing to hit you is the stink.

Weed’s scent is a sour blast that seems to reek of citrus, diesel, and skunk. At the Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, Middlesex County, charcoal air purifiers — encased in gleaming steel and larger than jet engines — are strategically placed through the facility. It’s hard to say whether their presence tempers the odor, which is generated by thousands of cannabis plants growing under lights in the same building.


Medical marijuana permits leave losers fuming in Pa.

Pennsylvania’s decision last week to award a dozen permits to grow marijuana has ignited a firestorm of controversy, with many losers decrying a lack of transparency and threatening legal action that could delay getting medicine to patients for years.


The permits are thought to be extremely lucrative — about $40 million apiece — so there are bound to be sore losers, industry experts said. In Maryland and Florida, litigation filed by groups that were shut out has stalled those states’ programs for years.


Licensed marijuana growers in PA might have weed, but they still can't get a bank account

Pennsylvania handed out licenses to 12 companies to grow marijuana for medicinal uses last week, and is expected to license producers and dispensaries soon. However, it could be tough for those businesses to get bank accounts.

Although Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana, it's still illegal at the federal level. That means all of the proceeds from growing, producing or selling it are illegal as far as the federal government is concerned.

That leaves banks that accept proceeds for such activity at risk of federal prosecution.


Pennsylvania Announces First Round of Medical Marijuana Permits

The Department of Health announced the winners of 12 grower/processor permits as part of Pennsylvania's nascent medical marijuana industry.

John Collins, director of the state's Office of Medical Marijuana, said the department received 457 applications in total, including 177 prospective grower/processors and 280 for dispensaries.

The 12 grower/processor permit awardees are included below:


Lehigh University Looks to Study Cannabis Effect on Autistic Children

As Pennsylvania prepares to award its first licenses for the fledgling medical marijuana industry, Lehigh University intends to partner with one of the potential growers in the Lehigh Valley to study the effect of the drug on children with autism.

While some parents of autistic children have preached the benefits of cannabis for years, Lehigh's Dean of Education Gary Sasso confirmed Monday that the university wants to collect some of the first quantitative data on the controversial drug therapy. Pennsylvania is one of the few states that specifically allows children with autism to be treated with cannabis.


Wolf: I'll Protect Medical Marijuana Patients from Jeff Sessions

Pa. Gov. Tom Wolf isn’t happy with a letter that surfaced this week from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.


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