Five Philadelphia medical schools were awarded permits by the state Department of Health on Monday to conduct clinical research as part of Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program.
Pennsylvania approved a total of eight institutions to participate in what has been touted as the nation's first state-sanctioned cannabis research program.
The schools are:
Each of the medical schools will partner with a marijuana company that will be permitted to operate a growhouse and up to six dispensaries. The schools will help to design studies. Patients can sign up for observational studies at the dispensaries. The companies will collect data from the patients and that information will be analyzed by the schools.
Because federal law currently outlaws all forms of the drug, the schools will not handle any marijuana products.
Though the marijuana companies have until July 12 to apply for a permit to grow and dispense the drug, most of the schools already have chosen their partners.
Drexel is said to have paired with Acreage Holdings, a multistate cannabis corporation based in New York City. Acreage board members include former Speaker of the House John Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and is backed by Philadelphia philanthropist Chase Lenfest. (Lenfest is the son of H.F. Gerry Lenfest, a board member of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, which owns the company that publishes the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com.)
Temple has paired with Laurel Harvest Labs, which includes pharmaceutical executive Nick Karalis of Elwyn Specialty Care and Andrew Dodge, director of Lancaster-based flooring company Ecore International.
Jefferson has allied with MainLine Investment Partners, headed by former Jefferson chairman of the board William "Billy" Landman, who is often credited with being the architect of the state's marijuana research program. Landman's company, which recently made a multimillion dollar investment into Florida-based cannabis producer AltMed, will do business in Pennsylvania as Solterra Care LLC.
Penn is said to have linked with PalliaTech, a Massachusetts-based cannabis producer with operations in several states. PalliaTech applied for a growing permit in the first round of applications in Pennsylvania last year, but did not place high enough to be awarded a license.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine has joined with Franklin Labs, a Reading-based company whose board includes John Hanger, a former adviser to Gov. Tom Wolf; Raj Mukherji, the New Jersey assemblyman; and Michael Weisser, who owns marijuana operations in the Garden State and Delaware.
Partners for the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Pitt, and Penn State College of Medicine were not immediately known.
This story has been updated to reflect that William Landman is often considered the architect of the state's marijuana research program.