Edibles have gained a growing popularity in the states where THC-infused products are offered, representing a top-three cannabis market share in places like Michigan and Oregon.

In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie, plans to introduce legislation that would legalize edibles as a product offering to the more than 400,000 patients registered in the state’s medical cannabis program, he announced April 8 in a press release.

A legalization advocate, Laughlin was the first Republican in the state Legislature to sponsor an adult-use cannabis bill, which he unveiled with Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, in February 2021.

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Laughlin said his new legislation will help ensure Pennsylvanians have as many options as possible to find relief from their medical conditions.

“Pennsylvania’s patients should be able to buy edible medical cannabis that is safe, uniform and securely packaged and labeled, just as they do in 25 other states that have legalized medical cannabis,” he said. “For many patients, their medical conditions require gradual relief over an extended period of time. Consuming medical cannabis in edible form is among the best ways to achieve the time-release effect that these patients need.”

Under current law, Pennsylvania medical cannabis patients can only purchase medical cannabis in the form of pills, oils, topicals, tinctures, liquids and dry leaf, which can be vaporized but not smoked. The state prohibits cannabis processors from producing, and retailers from selling, THC-infused food products.

Laughlin said his legislation would ensure edibles available in the state’s medical cannabis program are tested for consistency and potency, and that they are designed in a fashion that does not appeal to children: Accidental consumption is one concern among opponents.

The bill aims to require strict packaging regulations that would prevent children and other unauthorized persons from accidental use through clear labeling and child-proof containers.

“Some patients use their medical marijuana to make their own edibles—such as cookies, brownies and other foods—to be consumed later,” Laughlin said. “But incorporating medical cannabis into food is complex and patients may not evenly disperse the marijuana’s active ingredients throughout their food which impairs their ability to get uniform relief from their symptoms.”

The unregulated production of cannabis edibles can lead to patients accidentally consuming too much or too little, Laughlin said.

He added that his legislation would create a uniform statewide edibles market through licensed laboratory approvals.

“For many patients, edibles offer an easy and appropriate way to get relief from their medical conditions, and that’s always been the goal of medical cannabis: providing relief to patients,” Laughlin said.