The Department of Health has expanded financial assistance available in the Medical Marijuana Assistance Program (MMAP) in addition to announcing the ninth clinical registrant of the Medical Marijuana Research Program. In the assistance program, identification card fees have already been eliminated and background check fees for caregivers also removed for those meeting eligibility criteria. Coming soon will be funding to help those eligible to afford the purchase of medical marijuana.
The Department of health has released the following information about these two programs.
Medical Marijuana Assistance
“The department is pleased to be able to expand assistance to Medical Marijuana patients and caregivers who may be experiencing financial hardships,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said. “Patients deserve to have access to their medicine to treat medical conditions and cost should not be a barrier.”
With the enactment of Act 44 of 2021, the department was able to add new services that help provide assistance to medical marijuana patients and caregivers. To provide assistance as quickly as possible, the expansion of MMAP is occurring in three phases:
- Phase 1 will eliminate annual identification card fees for eligible participants registered in an existing commonwealth financial hardship program.
- Phase 2 will eliminate all background check fees for eligible caregivers.
- Phase 3 will distribute a to-be-determined benefit amount per funding period per eligible patient.
Phases 1 and 2 have been implemented. Phase 3 implementation is in process as the infrastructure and support system to execute is being developed.
Medical Marijuana Research Program
The clinical research program, guided by Act 43 of 2018 and amended by Act 44 of 2021, allows for 10 clinical registrants who each must hold both a grower/processor and a dispensary permit, along with a research contract with one of nine approved academic clinical research centers.
The department announced there are now nine clinical registrants. The newly approved clinical registrant is Story of PA CR, LLC., which is approved to work with Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. This clinical registrant will have a grower/processor in the Southwest Region and will initially have two dispensaries – one in the Northeast Region and one in the Southeast Region.
“The department continues to grow and support clinical research opportunities for the medical marijuana program,” Klinepeter said. “This research is essential to providing physicians with more evidence-based information to make clinical decisions for their patients. It is the cornerstone of our program and the key to our clinically based, patient-focused program for people suffering with approved serious medical conditions.”
As of Feb. 24, 2022, more than 729,000 patients and caregivers are registered for the program and eligible to obtain medical marijuana for one of 23 serious medical conditions. More than 1,700 physicians are approved practitioners.
One hundred fifty-five dispensaries are open and dispensing products to patients. Thirty-three grower/processors are operational, with 28 shipping medical marijuana products to dispensaries throughout the commonwealth.