John Collins, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Medical Marijuana, said this week that the state’s medical marijuana program has generated more than $500 million in revenue from medical cannabis sales.
A couple points of reference to underscore how impressive that figure is: Colorado only just passed the $1 billion threshold earlier this year for its legal marijuana industry that took effect in 2014.
Pennsylvania’s robust showing might be down to the broad nature of the state’s medical marijuana law. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the measure into law back in 2016, making the treatment available for patients suffering from more than 20 qualifying conditions, including AIDS, autism, cancer, severe chronic or intractable pain, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid dependency, and anxiety disorders.
The first dispensaries opened for business in Pennsylvania in early 2018, and within a year, medical cannabis sales eclipsed $130 million, easily dwarfing first-year revenue totals for Maryland ($95.4 million), Illinois ($36.3 million), Massachusetts ($25-$35 million) and New York ($5-$15 million).
Wolf said earlier this year that Pennsylvania’s first-year tally “tells us that this program is working to help Pennsylvanians in need of this medication.”
“Patients are realizing the benefits and there has been steady, positive progress that I am pleased to report,” he said in February.
Program Continues to Rapidly Grow
When the first-year revenue number was reported earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s program had 83,000 certified patients with identification cards and 45 dispensaries throughout the state.
Collins said this week that the program now boasts about 147,000 certified patients who are served at 72 dispensaries. According to Collins, the program serves 65,000 patients per week who make an average purchase of $120. 60 percent of the patients in the medical marijuana program suffer from pain or pain-related conditions.
Is the state ready to go even further with its marijuana laws? Wolf indicated as much in September, when he said he is in favor of the state legalizing pot for recreational use. The Democrat said that he was compelled to take the position following Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s 93-day tour of all 67 Pennsylvania counties to discuss ending marijuana prohibition. According to Wolf, almost 70 percent of attendees on the tour said they were in favor of outright legalization.
“I said in the past that I didn’t know if Pennsylvania was ready for this,” Wolf said at the time. “I believe Pennsylvania is ready for this.”