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More than 10K Pennsylvanians register for medical marijuana program

Natasha Lindstrom
| Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, 2:27 p.m.
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More than 10,000 people have registered to be among Pennsylvania's first medical marijuana patients, Gov. Tom Wolf announced Wednesday.

Of 10,135 patients to register, about 11.7 percent — or 1,188 applicants — have been certified by a doctor to participate in the state's Medical Marijuana Program when it's implemented next year, according to Wolf and the state Department of Health.

"Patients have started to receive their medical marijuana identification cards, bringing us one step closer to getting medication to patients in the next four months," Wolf said in a statement. "Patients who are desperately waiting for this medication will soon find relief."

The biggest rush of applicants happened shortly after registration opened last month.

On Nov. 1, the first day of applications, more than 1,000 patients signed up. Nearly 4,000 patients had registered by the end of the first week.

Under state law, patients can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Qualified patients with a doctor's recommendation will receive a Pennsylvania medical marijuana identification card, allowing the purchase of medical marijuana from an authorized state-licensed medical marijuana dispensary.

RELATED: Video shows steps to getting a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania

As of Tuesday, 550 physicians have registered to prescribe medical marijuana, about half of whom have completed training to become certified to do so.

"Physicians play a critical role in this medically focused program," acting Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. "The response has been encouraging from the medical community as more doctors are becoming educated on how medical marijuana can help their patients."

RELATED: Pennsylvania releases list of doctors able to prescribe medical marijuana

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will be available in pills, oils, tinctures or ointments. The program forbids smoking marijuana in dry leaf form.

Dispensaries are allowed to sell equipment such as vaping devices.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the state's first medical marijuana bill into law in April 2016.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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