By Tom Santanna
On January 17, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) released applications for medical cannabis grower/processor (G/P) and dispensary licenses. Applications will be accepted by mailing a single USB drive, external hard drive, CD-ROM, or DVD with the completed application materials and fees by US mail to the DOH from February 20 to March 20.
The Department anticipates it will need 90 days (potential for June/July awards) to sort through the applications and has stated they expect up to 900 total applications.
G/P permit initial application fee is $10,000 and the initial permit fee is $200,000. Dispensary permit initial application fee is $5,000 and the initial permit fee is $30,000 per dispensary location identified in the application (applicants can have up to three, or $90,000).
Initial permit fees will be returned if the applicant is not issued a permit.
DOH indicated that a selection committee will rely on a weighted scoring method to evaluate each application. The total possible number of points for a G/P application or a dispensary application is 1,000. Points are awarded based on various parts of the application including: applicant identification and facility information, diversity plan, applicant background information, plan of operation, applicant organization, ownership, capital and tax status, and community impact.
There has not been a clear indication who will make up the “selection committee”, but the DOH has been extremely cautious in walling off communications between DOH staff and potential applicants, and those who may represent those potential applicants, as to not have the slightest perception of conflicts-of-interest.
Phase 1 will see the awarding of 12 G/P permits and 27 dispensary permits. The statute allows for 25 grower/processor licenses and 50 dispensary licenses to be issued. DOH stated that they will issue the licenses in phases. There is no time-line determined for Phase 2.
Phase 1 implementation will be broken down into six-statewide regions and the awarding of dispensary permits will be limited to 2 G/P permits and a specific number of dispensaries for each region. DOH anticipates they will have enough qualified candidates, but stated that they are not required to issue two G/P permits in each region if they feel there are not enough qualified candidates.
DOH, in less than a year, has published temporary regulations to create a program within the Commonwealth and has released applications in the time-frame that they had previously stated. The Department has said that it does not feel that they will need more than 90 days to review permits which means they very well could be on schedule to have the program fully up-and-running by mid-2018.
Applications can be found on the PA DOH website along with detailed instructions on how to complete the applications. The Department gave an email address for applicants to direct questions which will be open until February 8th. DOH will periodically publish answers to common application questions.