Eight medical schools were approved last week to participate in Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program. Five of them are in Philadelphia.
The Wolf Administration certified the schools as Academic Clinical Research Centers (ACRCs) on Friday. The ACRC status will allow each to pair with a cannabis company to design research programs and analyze observational data collected at medical marijuana dispensaries.
The schools will not be able to conduct laboratory research on marijuana itself. That's because the federal government still considers the drug to have no currently accepted medical applications and alleges it has "a high potential for abuse." Touching the plant — or its derivatives — could cause the schools to lose federal funding and grants.
The schools given ACRC status include:
The state is taking applications from marijuana companies that want to partner with the schools, several of which prematurely have announced their partners. Drexel is said to have paired with Acreage Holdings, a multistate cannabis corporation based in New York City. 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 Solterra Care LLC, backed by MainLine Investment Partners, which is headed by former Jefferson chairman William "Billy" Landman. Penn is said to have linked with PalliaTech, a Massachusetts-based cannabis producer with operations in several states.
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. Wolf, and Michael Weisser, who owns marijuana operations in the Garden State and Delaware.
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine announced earlier this month it was pairing with Knox Medical/Cansortium Health Partners.