HARRISBURG — Medical marijuana will be available to Pennsylvania patients within six months, two high-ranking state health officials said Wednesday.
"You have my commitment: It's going to happen," John Collins, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana, said in a news conference at the Capitol.
His promise, echoed by acting Health Secretary and Physician General Rachel Levine, came as officials announced the creation of an online registry for medical marijuana patients, caregivers, and physicians. The registry — accessible at medicalmarijuana.pa.gov — allows people to start the approval process for receiving medical marijuana, and to identify doctors qualified to prescribe it.
To obtain medical marijuana, patients must register, then have a doctor certify that they have at least one of 17 conditions ranging from autism and HIV to cancer and multiple sclerosis. With that certification, patients will be able to pay for an ID card that will eventually allow them to obtain marijuana from a dispensary in the state.
The Department of Health announced Wednesday that 109 physicians had completed the four hours of training required to issue a certification. Of those, 26 have offices in Philadelphia and 10 in Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh. Additional doctors have offices in the regions surrounding those areas.
Levine said nearly 200 more doctors are going through training, and the state hopes to continue to recruit more physicians for the program.
"It's absolutely, critically important that we have physicians in many different specialties throughout the commonwealth to register and take the education and become practitioners in the program," Levine said after the news conference.
She said the state plans to have medical marijuana available to patients by May 2018, if not sooner. The state has approved two marijuana growers and processors — Standard Farms in Luzerne County and Cresco Yeltrah in Jefferson County.