From February to August – amid the coronavirus pandemic – the number of weekly patient visits to Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis dispensaries has risen more than 70 percent from 70,000 to 120,000, the Philadelphia Enquirer reports. Since February, the state’s 89 dispensaries have sold $385 million in products, nearly as much as the $400 million sold in the state in the previous two years combined.
According to state Department of Health data, chronic pain is the number one qualifying condition in the state – about 37 percent of Pennsylvania patients are registered for the condition, followed by post-traumatic stress disorder (24 percent), and opioid use disorder (12 percent) There are now about 230,000 registered patients in the state.
Medical cannabis dispensaries were considered essential services as the state issued stay-at-home orders in March. The state also upped the amount of cannabis patients were allowed to obtain at one time from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply.
A May poll found 62 percent for broad cannabis legalization in the state, a proposal backed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf. A legalization bill was introduced in the state last October, but Republican members of the state House have said they have “no plans or interest” in legalizing cannabis recreationally. However, the Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition-commissioned poll conducted by Harper Polling – a Republican firm – found that just 9 percent of GOP voters would vote against a legislator that voted for the broad reforms, which could sway some of the holdout Republicans.
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TG is a news writer and host of the Ganjapreneur podcast based in upstate New York, where he also teaches media studies at a local university.