House Endorses Clarification for Medical Marijuana Research, Watson Says
HARRISBURG – To help ensure that research projects involving medical marijuana are not unduly delayed by ongoing litigation, Rep. Kathy Watson (R-Bucks/144th) today applauded the passage of her legislation that would clarify the legislative intent behind the research portion of the state’s medical marijuana law.

“A recent decision by the Commonwealth Court raised some questions about the legislative intent behind Act 16 of 2016 – the state’s medical marijuana law – and the research portion of that,” said Watson. “Although my colleagues and I in the General Assembly believe that our purpose with research was crystal clear, the court still had questions. That’s why we are pushing for this clarification legislation.”

As a result, Watson authored House Bill 2477 to respond to the Commonwealth Court’s ruling in AES Compassionate Care, LLC, et al., v. Levine. The bill does not change substantive law in Pennsylvania regarding the research component, which is known as Chapter 20, but merely clarifies intent and spells out definitions.

Of note, the legislation stipulates that the Department of Health – the state agency charged with rolling out the state’s medical marijuana program – could approve up to eight clinical registrants. As defined by both the current law and this legislation, a clinical registrant is a grower/processor and a dispensary which has a contractual relationship with an academic clinical research center (a hospital with a medical school).

Watson worked with members of all four legislative caucuses, including the original sponsor of Act 16, Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York), to reach an agreement for this new legislation.

As part of the overall research structure, the academic clinical research center (ACRC) would then provide advice to the clinical registrant (CR) in the areas of patient health and safety, medical applications of medical marijuana, and dispensing and management of controlled substances. The ACRC would design research studies into medical marijuana which do not violate federal law. The clinical registrant would then dispense the medical marijuana to patients and provide data to the ACRC about patient outcomes with respect to those patients who chose to participate in a research study. Together, they will construct research projects designed to increase the efficacy and efficiency of medical marijuana.

“The research component of the medical marijuana program is essential – not only to the patients and their families who may benefit from research findings but also in developing good public policy,” Watson added. “Pennsylvania is home to a number of world-class medical schools that have made ground-breaking discoveries in health care, and so it only made sense that our state become the first in the nation to find a way to conduct such research. We cannot allow litigation to hold up the process and prevent patients from benefiting from both this medicine and future ground-breaking discoveries.”

The bill now goes to the state Senate for consideration.

Representative Kathy Watson
144th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
717.705.2094 /

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