Delays in Cannabis Growers Finalizing Approvals in Pennsylvania for Medical Research

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A total of eight cannabis growers applied to the state of Pennsylvania Department of Health to supply cannabis to state medical schools and its researchers. As of this writing, all eight applications were rejected because of errors in filling out the forms and paperwork with the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Health opted to reject the applications now and re-open the process in 2019. All of this imposes ongoing delays to implementing much-needed medical research around cannabis and its impact on health, healthcare and safety. The reasons for the delay might now be so straight-forward as accusations of pay-to-play surfaced against the growers and their partnered medical schools.

“Eight billionaire groups who have spent the last four years trying to situate themselves as medical marijuana kingpins in the state have just been told ‘No,'” said Andrew Sacks, cochair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Committee on Medical Marijuana and Hemp. “That’s big news.”

The growers have spent a lot of time and money in Pennsylvania to secure these rights. Perhaps these indefinite delays will result in higher standards as far as the rolling out of this program goes. 

The Department of Health’s reasons for rejection varied. The applications were not available for review by the Inquirer and Daily News, but the department provided copies of five denial letters.


Curaleaf Holdings, the Russian-backed company paired with the University of Pennsylvania, “failed to meet the minimum acceptable score for each scoreable section” in key sections of its application. It scored poorly in sections weighing its organization, ownership, capital, and tax status. It was also labeled “below expectations” in its diversity plan and community impact statement. The $4 billion cannabis grower operates in 10 states and was previously known as PalliaTech.

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