Read the latest news from our first-ever regional bureau in State College »

Events

WATCH: A free virtual Q&A on Pa.’s uneven rules for medical marijuana cards

by |

Lawmakers' fears of unscrupulous doctors who might exploit Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program for profit led them to impose strict advertising prohibitions on physicians.
Lawmakers' fears of unscrupulous doctors who might exploit Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program for profit led them to impose strict advertising prohibitions on physicians.
Leise Hook / For Spotlight PA

Spotlight PA is an independent, nonpartisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and WITF Public Media. Sign up for our free newsletters.

As Pennsylvania lawmakers planned the legislation that would create the state’s medical marijuana program in 2016, their fears of unscrupulous doctors who might exploit the program for profit led them to impose strict advertising prohibitions on physicians.

As a result, physicians can face penalties if they advertise their power to approve patients for cannabis.

But those restrictions only apply to doctors. The companies that connect patients to doctors for certifications do not face the same limits, a loophole that allows them to advertise on websites, airwaves, and discount sites like Groupon.

Doctors, lawyers, and even at least one certification company owner argue this loophole is unfair, and some advocates say it undermines trust in the marijuana program among patients. Now, as lawmakers in Harrisburg debate whether to legalize recreational cannabis, we’ll be looking at how Pa.’s advertising ban and other medical marijuana rules are affecting hundreds of thousands of patients across the state.

On June 14, Spotlight PA held a free Q&A on the rules and flaws of the state’s medical marijuana program. Watch the discussion below.

Our panelists were:

  • Ed Mahon, investigative reporter

  • MaryFrances Koester, a physician based in Lackawanna County

  • Judith Cassel, an attorney who specializes in medical marijuana issues

  • Shalawn James, member of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board

» Spotlight PA’s events operate on a “pay-what-you-can” honor system. If you value this public-service event, pay it forward and contribute any amount to Spotlight PA now so we can keep our programming free for everyone: spotlightpa.org/donate.

From top news to hard-hitting investigations to the lighter side of Pennsylvania, Spotlight PA has a free newsletter for you. Sign up now.