Pennsylvania Is “Ground Zero” for Medical Marijuana, Industry Insider Says
Harrisburg’s decision in early April to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania has set several wheels in motion, including those at the Department of Health, which has six months, beginning on May 17th, to craft the necessary regulations. Leaping into the fray is U.S. Cannabis Pharmaceutical Research and Development, which hosted two business seminars this past weekend in Philadelphia and West Conshohocken, giving citizens an opportunity to learn more about the legislation and explore the many ways they might take advantage of a new business opportunity.
Established in 2009, the USCPRD seeks to facilitate the legalization of medical marijuana in all states through multi-disciplinary education that spans the many facets of the industry. The organization has been active in several states with new legislation concerning the sale and consumption of marijuana for medicinal purposes, most recently adding Pennsylvania to the list. According to Michael Patterson, the organization’s CEO, Pennsylvania’s legislation will become a template for other states attempting to legalize medical marijuana, including Florida and Ohio.
“PA is ground zero for the way this movement should move forward in a responsible way,” Patterson told Philadelphia magazine.
In fact, Patterson reached out to Philadelphia-based marketing company 15 Minutes about promoting a series of Medical Marijuana Business Seminars before the legislation was even passed. It was signed into law on April 17th, opening the door to USCPRD to host two seminars this past weekend — the first on Saturday, at a Philadelphia Mariott Downtown on Market Street, and the second in West Conshohocken on Sunday.
“Typically what we find is that the people who attend our seminars come from all walks of life,” Patterson said, noting that the ages of attendees generally range from 21 to 75. Approximately 200 people of various industries, business backgrounds, and levels of interest paid the $350 registration fee to attend Saturday’s seminar in Philadelphia. Guests received information from presentations, alternatively hosted by Patterson and partner Michael Visher, and were able to take advantage of networking opportunities during breaks in the program. A question-and-answer session also provided a space for dialogue between members of the audience.
“People often think that unless you have a ton of money, you can’t get into this or you can’t be an owner, and that’s totally false,” Patterson said. “What we see is people coming to our seminars who are looking to network to be able to find people to join their team. If I have a lot of money, I’m an investor, and I need someone who’s actually grown marijuana before.”
Another objective of the seminar is to chase away the ghosts of legislations past. “A lot of what we see is people dealing with the old ideology, what we call the ‘Prohibition Hangover,’” said Patterson. “We get rid of all the ideology and we only deal with fact.”
For Patterson, the industry balances on three pillars: public safety, patient access and commerce. Without cooperation from each of the three pillars, the system cannot succeed. Patterson pointed to examples of this in California, where public safety is lacking, and in New York, where a lack of patient access due to strict legislation causes sellers to struggle or go out of business completely.
“The reason that we love PA so much is that it has enough regulation to make sure it stays in compliance for the patients, but there’s not too much regulation,” Patterson explained, referring to this balance as “the Goldilocks Zone.”
“In this industry, you need good regulation because good regulation keeps people from going to prison,” he continued. “We really feel like everybody who is going to be determining where this industry goes in PA really needs to see where everyone is coming from with the three pillars.”
For this reason the USCPRD has extended invitations to several Pennsylvania officials, including the Police and Fire departments. The next seminars will take place in Pittsburgh on June 11th and 12th. “If you’re in a career that you don’t like, this is the only time in history where you can come into a career with zero experience and excel,” Patterson said.