Quality Control and Assessment of Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania

The regulated use of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania was legalized by the state’s General Assembly in April 2016 in the Medical Marijuana Act (Act 16). By law, patients who have been diagnosed as suffering from certain conditions and illnesses are legally allowed to obtain and use medical marijuana (as a means of remedy) through state-regulated suppliers known as dispensaries. There are however certain challenges and issues concerning the quality control and assessment of medical marijuana.


Why The Need For Quality Control?

The need for quality control of medical marijuana is quite evident. Generally, medical marijuana dispensaries are meant to supply patients with product (and by-products) that adhere to certain national and state regulations. We are talking here when it comes to cultivating the plant as well as its formulation, manufacturing, and distribution to end users, i.e. the patients. The set of standards and regulations covering medical marijuana though are not quite yet dressed in appropriate legislature, so it seems there are still some grey areas at the moment.


At the time of writing, there are many dispensaries operating across Pennsylvania and some other states and territories where the medical use of marijuana is legal. The issue at hand though is the quality and chemical content of the product being supplied to patients. Basically, it is up to the FDA to test and approve the variety of marijuana plants available to patients at dispensaries across the country, but responsible government agencies are yet to make headway into quality control issues nationally.


There is a lot of chemistry that makes marijuana what it is. Indeed, there are a number of psychoactive substances that determine its potency and effect on a patient, so careful analysis and selection is needed when making certain strands or phenotypes of the plant available to patients in need. Needless to say that different conditions or illnesses call for different types and amounts of medical marijuana.


Keeping the System ‘Clean’ and Free of Misuse


For the purpose of this article, we will refrain from a lengthy discussion on the merits or morals of using a controlled substance as means of medical remedy. More relevant would be the topic of keeping medical marijuana free of abuse. The government of Pennsylvania has an elaborate program in place designed to regulate, control, and provide valid licensing not only to dispensaries but to patients as well.


The idea of licensing dispensaries and their ‘customers’ is a good and necessary one that has seen a lot of support from interested parties and the community as a whole. The licensing process is quite manageable and made very straightforward from medical organizations like Veriheal, where patients can be paired and diagnosed by professional medical practitioners, registered with the relevant authorities, and then issued a valid medical use marijuana license, or medical marijuana ID as it is referred to in Pennsylvania.


The Medical Marijuana ID

The medical marijuana ID is issued by a certified practitioner on behalf of the state government. It is similar to a driver’s license and is renewed annually. The renewal is not automatic though, is dependent on a thorough follow-up examination by a licensed medical practitioner who will determine whether the patient still requires medical marijuana for his/her illness or condition.

The medical marijuana ‘license’ is not universal and should not be viewed as a ‘get out of jail card’ when those abusing the system are caught red-handed. It must be stressed that all patients using medical cannabis need to be registered and certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prior to any possession and use of the drug.


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