Top Photo: A Lime Sorbet strain grows in Cresco Labs’ Illinois facility. The company is one of the five vertically integrated permit holders in Pennsylvania. Photo courtesy of Cresco Labs.

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is rolling out smoothly, industry professionals say—despite litigation, a controversial smoking ban and other bumps in the road.

The state started registering patients at the beginning of last year, said Russ Cersosimo, founder of the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society (PAMCS), and registered patient and physician numbers have been rising.

Just over 10,000 patients have registered with the state to participate in the program, and about 1,200 have been certified by a physician to participate, according to a Dec. 27 press release. Physicians continue to register, as well, with 550 signing up to participate and nearly 250 completing the training program to become certified practitioners, the release said.

“The onboarding has been unbelievable,” Cersosimo said.

Chris Goldstein, Chapter Coordinator at South Philly NORML, however, said the numbers could be higher.

“Ten thousand patients signed up on a waiting list, essentially, at the Department of Health,” he said. “About … 1,200 … worked their way through an interview with a doctor. … There are about 170 approved practitioners in Pennsylvania. That is very small compared to the 50,000 or so physicians in the state.”

Overall, he said, doctors have shied away from the training and registration requirements in Pennsylvania and other states with similar programs.

Examining the Regulations

The state has 17 qualifying conditions, Cersosimo noted, including pain and autism, and Pennsylvania has been driving cannabis research initiatives. The state has a clinical research application process, Cersosimo said, which allows universities to partner with a licensed grower/processor to conduct research studies on patients.

“With our ability to conduct research in the state through the clinical research program, [it

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