On August 18, 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health publicly released draft regulations that will soon highly regulate medical marijuana grower/processor permit holders under Act 16 of 2016, the Medical Marijuana Act. The Department made the regulations available for public comment through August 28, after which the Department will presumably make some modifications, and then publish final, temporary regulations (permanent regulations under Act 16 will follow in the near future). These draft regulations give communities across the Commonwealth the first glimpse at just what it will mean to have a medical marijuana growing and processing operation in their backyard.
For those communities that were worried about what this new law may mean for safety in their neighborhoods, this first glimpse of the regulations should provide great relief.
As a preliminary matter, medical marijuana is not going to be growing in open fields with just a token fence or wall around it that could invite crime or other mischief. That is not even permitted by Act 16 itself, let alone the draft regulations (under Act 16, a grower/processor can “only grow, store, harvest, or process in an indoor, enclosed, secure facility”).
In fact, the draft regulations provide a number of controls that will prevent not only access to, but also diversion of, medical marijuana. Here are just a few highlights:
- No one under the age of 21 is allowed into a grower/processor facility.
- Grower/processor facilities will not be open to the general public and any visitors thoroughly logged and are subject to constant supervision.
- Facilities will have “limited access areas” where only certain persons may enter.
- Facilities must have a security system employing “commercial grade equipment,” including various monitored alarms and comprehensive surveillance systems.
- The facility must have commercial-grade doors and door locks on all external doors.
- The facility must have sufficient lighting inside and out to ensure proper surveillance.
- The grower/processor must use a “seed-to-sale” tracking system to monitor all phases of marijuana growth and production.
- In the end, the draft regulations show the Department is taking seriously its oft-stated commitment to “create a high quality, efficient, and compliant medical marijuana program.” Part of that commitment, it appears, is making sure that medical marijuana growing operations will be safe, secure, and highly regulated. This should be welcome relief to any community that had initial concerns about what the new law may mean.