Pennsylvania Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS PENNSYLVANIA'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
Content Below Last Updated by Point7 04/11/2022
In February of 2022, the Senate Law and Justice Committee executed three hearings regarding various issues surrounding potential legalization of adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania. The hearings were produced by a co-sponsor memo that was circulated in 2021 by Committee Chair Senator Mike Regan (R) and Representative Arman Brown (D).
The first of these hearings focused around the issue of what a regulated market would look like and if it would be enough to eliminate legacy market sales, how the police department will be affected, and potential impacts on impaired driving. In the second hearing, legislatures discussed potential tax structures for the program. The third hearing examined the regulatory structures that other legalized states have adopted and the pros and cons of each regulatory system. Within the next few years there will be significant progress made on legalizing cannabis for adult-use in this Republican-controlled state.
WHAT ARE PENNSYLVANIA'S CURRENT CANNABIS LAWS?
Cannabis in Pennsylvania is legal for medical use and decriminalized for recreational use in small amounts.
Governor Wolf signed Senate Bill 3 into law on April 17, 2016 legalizing the use of medical cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania, making it the 24th state to do so. The bill listed 17 medical conditions for patient qualification, and allowed only non-smokable forms of the plant. Patients are prohibited from growing plants at home, and a sales tax rate of 5% between growers, processors and dispensaries in Pennsylvania was enacted.
State wide decriminalization has yet to occur in Pennsylvania. However, individual municipalities, such as Philadelphia and the state capital, Harrisburg, have started to revise their municipal ordinances to lessen penalties for cannabis offenses. As of now, the top penalty for possession of 30 grams or less is 30 days in jail and a fine of $500. For amounts greater than 30 grams, an offender could receive up to one year in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. In 2018 House Bill 163 was signed into law and repealed a policy under which possession of cannabis was punished with a mandatory six-month driver’s license suspension.
WHAT IS PENNSYLVANIA'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
Applications are not being accepted at this time for a medical cannabis license in Pennsylvania.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN PENNSYLVANIA?
Pennsylvania’s Senate Bill 3 was signed into law on April 17, 2016 by Governor Wolf, legalizing medical cannabis in The Keystone State. Originally the law only allowed medical cannabis to treat a list of 17 qualifying conditions, a list that has since grown to include 23 conditions. The original law also limited the types of allowable cannabis to only include non-smokable products. This stipulation was changed in 2018, when The Health Department revised regulations to include smokable products.
On October 9, 2018, a bill was approved by the Pennsylvania House Judiciary committee to reduce simple possession of cannabis penalties to just a fine; however, the legislature adjourned before a vote on the bill was conducted. This hasn’t stopped local cities from revising ordinances of their own to reduce cannabis penalties within their municipalities.
Momentum around adult-use cannabis exists and is supported by Governor Wolf who initiated a statewide listening tour in 2019 to hear what the people of Pennsylvania want in terms of recreational cannabis. On the 70 stop tour conducted by Lieutenant Governor Fetterman, state leaders found that 68% of the state supports adult-use of cannabis. During a press conference on September 25, 2019, Governor Wolf and Lieutenant Governor Fetterman called for the state legislature to take the following three actions: passage of legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of cannabis; passage of legislation to expunge prior cannabis convictions; and debate and consideration of legislation to legalize cannabis for recreational use.
As the fifth largest state in the U.S. with a population of 13 million people, the Pennsylvania medical cannabis market has the potential to reach extraordinary heights. The state has 72 operating dispensaries and 13 operating cultivation and processing facilities, and over 180,000 medical patients purchased $406 million in cannabis products in 2019. The state allows cannabis recommendations from physicians for an extensive list of 23 medical conditions, which has researchers estimating the patient registry list could amount to more than 300,000 medical patients.
Adult-use recreational cannabis is on the horizon in Pennsylvania with a recent May 2020 poll indicating 62% of voters approve the legalization of cannabis.
DOES PENNSYLVANIA HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
Pennsylvania’s 2022 hemp growing application period is now closed; however applications for hemp processing permits will continue to be accepted throughout the rest of the year.
PREPARING FOR THE PENNSYLVANIA CANNABIS MARKET
Although the adult-use market is not yet available, there is a potential for medical cannabis licenses to increase over the next few years. We are ready to support your team as you prepare for cannabis licensure in Pennsylvania. Contact Point7 to discuss the fully customizable products and service packages available that have proved successful for operators around the country.