Gaps in medical pot availability a problem | Opinion | – Sunbury Daily Item

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Earlier this year, The Daily Item and CNHI newspapers across Pennsylvania highlighted the challenges with rural health care in certain locations in the commonwealth.

The issues range from transportation to access of specialists and connectivity for growing telemedicine appointments. Add access to medical marijuana to that list.

According to data provided to The Daily Item by the Department of Health, there are more than 50,000 people registered for medical marijuana who live in one of 29 rural counties without a single medical marijuana dispensary. Montour and Union counties are among those 29 counties. Fortunately, there are dispensaries in Selinsgrove, Shamokin and Bloomsburg that are within a short drive.

The Department of Health website lists 127 dispensaries operating in the state. The data provided by DOH officials shows that in the North-Central Region, which covers all of the Valley along with eight other counties that cover a huge swath of land stretching along Route 15 north to the New York border, west to Bradford and then back south to Centre County there are 27,206 medical marijuana patients. Seven of 12 counties have no dispensaries.

Statewide there are 367,925 patients who are actively purchasing medical marijuana for one of 23 approved conditions. Those conditions range from epilepsy and multiple sclerosis to cancer and glaucoma.

None of the seven counties lacking a dispensary have more than 2,000 patients and in some counties, namely those north of Lycoming, Clinton and Centre counties have small populations in general.

Sullivan County has 6,046 residents and Potter County has 16,332, both among the five fewest in the state.

But when you look at a map of pinpointing dispensaries across the commonwealth, it is striking just how empty the northern portion of the

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