Philadelphia leaders push for medical marijuana grower permit

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Pennsylvania already has medical marijuana dispensaries - and now the City of Philadelphia is fighting to obtain one of 13 new grower/processor permits.

Last spring, when the state issued the licenses, Philly was overlooked, and the permits were issued in Berks County. City and state leaders are hoping this time around that changes.

Medical marijuana is a growing business that the City of Brotherly Love doesn't want to miss out on.

"I think it is important that we raise this voice and raise this issue, as we try to combat poverty in our city," said Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green. "And we believe with this growing industry of medical cannabis, this is a real opportunity to provide economic development opportunities here."

Some say acquiring a license to grow medical marijuana will make the city more competitive and provide a substantial economic boost.

"This is a billion dollar industry," said State Rep. Jordan Harris. "If we are not mindful, we will miss the train on this one. We should be looking at not only do we want to have one in Philadelphia, we want to have all of the ancillary business that comes with it. And we want to begin to train our young people on how to cultivate and how to grow and how do so legally, because that is the industry of the future."

As the city continues to push to be made a top priority in the second phase of grower/processing licenses, some say the fight is just not about revenue. They say the move could help with fighting opioid addiction.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to save lives," said Bob Rudy of NORML Philadelphia. "I do a tremendous amount of patient advocate work, and the folks that come to me who would like to get off their medication would clearly switch over to this. It has been demonstrated to be a safe alternative with very few, if absolutely no, side effects."

Pennsylvania only allows processed marijuana, such as oils, topical creams, and inhalers, to be sold to patients.

Those patients must have a prescription from an approved doctor for one of 17 specific medical conditions.

Applications for the Phase 2 licensing round must be postmarked by May 17th.

You can find more information about Pennsylvania's Medical Marijuana program on the state's website.
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