Medical Marijuana Doing Well in PA Thanks to COVID-19
The Pennsylvania State Health Department reports a 400% increase in medical marijuana sales since the inception of the new coronavirus pandemic. From the beginning of the program, two and a half years ago, sales totaled $415 million as of early February. That number nearly doubled as of early August, topping $789 million. During this six month period, the Health Department reported that nearly 100,000 new patients registered for the program.
Medical marijuana is becoming a popular option for Pennsylvannians because the only other option for the medical attention they seek is prescription medication. Many patients seeking medication for anxiety and pain find that cannabis eases the tension without all of the negative side effects that come along with prescription medications. Furthermore, prescription pills increase the likelihood of substance dependence. Areas of PA were largely affected by the opioid pandemic.
The increase in patients registering for marijuana cards can be mostly explained by anxiety caused by the pandemic. With many Americans losing their jobs, looking for work, and uncertain about the future, mental health goes unchecked and anxiety levels begin to rise to the point where people need medical attention. Prior to medical marijuana legalization in the state, prescription pills were the patients’ only option. Now that medical cannabis is an accepted alternative, many patients are either making the switch or choosing cannabis as their number one option.
The other major variable explaining the increase in medical marijuana sales is the ease of access to register for a card. Patients now have the ability to obtain their medical marijuana card over the phone instead of having to go to a doctor in person. Many marijuana dispensaries are also offering parking lot deliveries with little to no contact.
Marijuana for recreational use remains illegal in PA. In order to use marijuana legally, you must first obtain a medical card after being diagnosed with one of 23 qualifying conditions. Legislators are beginning to recognize the many benefits of cannabis. Recreational marijuana legalization is likely in the future for the state.