I am writing this on Tuesday, June 20, which is the day that Pennsylvania is awarding 12 grower-processor permits for medical marijuana in the state. That equates to two for each geographic region, including Region 4 – North Central. Region 4 includes Centre, Bradford, Clinton, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga and Union  counties. In addition, the state Health Department expects to issue dispensary permits by the end of June.

Twenty-nine states plus Washington, D.C., have approved medical marijuana as Pennsylvania did last year. Each approved grower in Pennsylvania will be required to begin growing in six months and the growing facilities must exist in warehouses that are fully secure.

Marijuana is big business, as economists expect Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana markets to be worth $150 million in the first year.

The state has already made money on the applications. Growers had to submit a nonrefundable $10,000 application fee and dispensaries had to pay a nonrefundable $5,000 application fee. Pennsylvania has raked in between $2.5 million to more than $5 million from nearly 500 packages containing applications before any operations are running.

On top of these numbers, growers also sent a $200,000 permit fee, which is refundable if the permit is not granted and proof of $2 million in capital. In other words, deep pockets need only apply. Dispensaries also come with a steep price: a $30,000 permit fee, which is refundable if the permit is not approved and proof of $150,000 in capital. The proof of capital is important so the growers and dispensaries can be up and running by 2018.

Other than financial resources, no less than 30 criteria were reviewed to select the winners. Criteria are weighted with the largest percentage (20 percent) depending on diversity and community impact. Other benchmarks to be met included good moral

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