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State selects company for 'seed-to-sale' tracking of medical marijuana

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, April 20, 2017, 10:12 a.m.
About 75 percent of 191 Pennsylvania physicians said in a survey they would register in the program in order to prescribe medical marijuana, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
REUTERS
About 75 percent of 191 Pennsylvania physicians said in a survey they would register in the program in order to prescribe medical marijuana, the state Department of Health announced Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

The state of Pennsylvania on Thursday announced the hiring of a Denver-based software company to oversee tracking of its developing medical marijuana program.

Secretary of Health Karen Murphy in a news release said the company, MJ Freeway, will implement a system tracking medical marijuana from the planting of a seed until the plant is processed, sold to a dispensary, and then dispensed to a patient or caregiver.

“This is an important step forward in ensuring that we can get medical marijuana to patients who desperately need it,” Murphy said in a statement. “This contract serves two important functions for the program: tracking medical marijuana from seed-to-sale; and creating a registry for patients, caregivers, and practitioners to participate in the program.”

The state Department of Health hired MJ Freeway, a woman-owned business, for a 5-year, $10 million contract. The state received seven proposals. Five were eventually disqualified, so it came down to MJ Freeway and BioTrack THC, of Florida.

MJ Freeway's system allows marijuana growers, processors and dispensaries to track inventory and the amount dispensed and monitor the prices patients paid and caregivers for medical marijuana products.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical marijuana law just over a year ago.

MJ Freeway describes itself on its website as “the industry-leading software solution for marijuana businesses, with clients in 23 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and Europe.”

The state plans to issue 12 grower/processor permits and 27 dispensary permits as part of the first phase of the program's rollout. Applications to operate dispensaries closed on March 20, and the state is still reviewing those applications.

In the interim, the state has approved 226 applications through the “safe harbor” program, allowing caretakers of those under the age of 18 to obtain medicine from other states.

Thursday's announcement comes a day before a medical cannabis conference kicks off to Pittsburgh.

Medical marijuana proponents are set to converge on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for a two-day expo Friday and Saturday. Organizers expect hundreds of attendees at the World Medical Marijuana Business Conference and Expo, which features former NFL running back and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, a longtime marijuana advocate, as keynote speaker.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or bschmitt@tribweb.com.

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