Medical marijuana program passes up Mercer, Lawrence counties

Butler is the closest county to the area that will be getting a dispensary permit

In this photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015, marijuana plants sit under powerful growing lamps at the Pioneer Production and Processing marijuana growing facility in Arlington, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN/AP) – Pennsylvania health officials said they’ll be accepting applications to grow and distribute medical marijuana, but not from Mercer or Lawrence counties.

The medical marijuana program divided the state into six regions.

Region 6, where Mercer and Lawrence counties are located, is getting just two dispensary permits. One will go to Erie County and the other will go to McKean County.

The closest county getting a permit is Butler with just one. Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, will get two permits. The largest amount of permits will be given to Philadelphia County with three.

Permit breakdown by county (PDF)

Officials will be taking applications over the next couple months with hopes of having the system up and running in about a year and a half.

Health Secretary Karen Murphy said during an update Wednesday that permit applications for dispensaries and for grower-processors will be available online starting Jan. 17. The month-long application period will begin Feb. 20.

The first phase will involve up to 12 grower-processor permits and as many as 27 dispensary licenses. Each dispensary can operate three locations.

Murphy says the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana currently has eight employees.

Officials say about 5,000 people have provided public comments on the program. They most commonly list pain and post-traumatic stress as their qualifying medical conditions.

Murphy said the program is working with doctors to make sure those patients can have access to medical marijuana.

The program is helping doctors understand how they can treat these conditions with medical marijuana. It also provides training for dosing recommendations.

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