Pennsylvania on Wednesday rolled out its patient and caregiver registry for the medical marijuana program that is about to launch.
Eligible patients or their caregivers are expected to begin obtaining approved cannabis products by May 1, the current target date for medical marijuana availability statewide.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana on Wednesday released a list of approved practitioners who have completed their registration and training and may now issue certifications to patients.
The Lehigh Valley is part of Region 2-Northeast, one of six regions in the state where permits were distributed for growers/processors and for distributors. Practitioners listed include the following in:
- Charles Harris, M.D., 6724 Kernsville Rd., Orefield, PA 18069, Emergency Medicine
- David Gordan, M.D., 798 Hausman Rd., Suite 170, Allentown, PA 18104, General Practice and CT Surgery
- Kimberly Jean, M.D., 1101 Hamilton St., Suite 257, Allentown, PA 18101
- Mohammad Khan, M.D., 4949 Liberty Lane, Allentown, PA 18106, Psychiatry
- Nawabi Naseh, M.D., 101 S. 14th St., Allentown, PA 18102, Urgent Care
- Valerie Riley, M.D., 3445 High Point Blvd., Suite 100, Bethlehem, PA 18017, Gynecology and Urogynecology
- Thomas Yablonski, M.D., 215 N. Best Ave., Walnutport, PA 18088, Family Medicine
More than 100 physicians have been approved to participate, a list that’s expected to grow, as nearly 200 more are in the pipeline to take the required state training.
Patients and caregivers can visit medicalmarijuana.pa.gov to register to create a patient profile. The next step for patients is to obtain a physician’s certificate saying the patient suffers from one of 17 serious medical conditions outlined in the 2016 law creating the medical marijuana program. Then, the patient returns to the registry to pay for medical marijuana ID card and, once available, can obtain medical marijuana from an approved dispensary.
Caregivers must also complete a criminal background check and an authorization form.
Officials also said Wednesday a second grower-processor has been approved to operate, Standard Farms LLC in White Haven, Luzerne County. The approval of a grower-processor in Brookville was announced earlier this month. Ten more are expected to get the OK to start planting seeds.
None of the dispensaries where patients will be able to buy medical marijuana have so far received the state’s approval.
At a news conference to announce the developments, Adrienne Leasa, of Hummelstown, said daily cannabis use has helped with conditions she described as late-stage HIV and depression. The state program will further improve her life, Leasa said.
“It will make me no longer a criminal, first of all,” Leasa said. “Second, it will make it easier to find specialized products that are not always available on the black market.”
State Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, a prime sponsor of the law, said it was “surreal” to see the program so far along. He praised the efforts of grassroots activists who pushed for years to get the Legislature to act, many of them parents of sick children.
“We are on the verge of getting the program up and running and I am looking forward to when this valuable medicine — and I mean medicine — will be in patients’ hands,” Folmer said.
The law permits marijuana as pills, oils, vapor or liquid but not in plant form, and patients may not grow their own.
For now, the state has issued 324 “safe harbor” letters that insulate parents from criminal charges if they are obtaining the drug for their sick child.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
See who in the Lehigh Valley can prescribe marijuana – lehighvalleylive.com