Pennsylvania’s legalization of medical marijuana last year created a green rush of sorts, drawing hundreds of entrepreneurs to the state to compete for a stake in the burgeoning industry.

While Act 16 set out guidelines for how the system would be regulated, it left many gatekeeping decisions to the state Department of Health.

April Hutcheson, a department spokeswoman, said it expects to receive about 900 applications from businesses by the March 20 deadline.

Those applicants will compete for 27 dispensary and 12 grower/processor permits spread across six regions. Each region will see two grower/processors while the number of dispensaries varies based on population and the anticipated demand for medicine.

After the deadline, Hutcheson said, a group of experts from assorted fields will judge the applications and issue a score. For example, staffers from the departments of Agriculture and Environmental Protection will be pulled in to scrutinize an applicant’s pesticide and waste disposal plans.

“The applicants know exactly what they’ll be scored on,” she said, “and how much each section is worth.”

Businesses seek to stake claims in Pa. medical marijuana gold rush

The actual composition of this panel of judges has not yet been publicly released. Hutcheson said the names will remain confidential “to ensure that this remains a level playing field.”

More broadly, this is the rubric for how permit applications will be scored:

Background checks for applicant and principles, financial backers, operators and employees (pass/fail) Diversity plan (100 points): This outlines how the applicant plans to include employees and businesses from a variety of races, ethnicities, genders, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Operation plan (550 points): This outlines how the applicant plans to become operational within six months of receiving the permit. It includes how the business will comply with statutory and regulatory requirements, including information about security,

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