Pennsylvania regulators voted Oct. 20 to approve final rules for the state’s six-year-old medical cannabis program, which was passed into law in 2016 and has been operating under temporary regulations since sales launched in early 2018.

The Independent Regulatory Review Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to approve the final regulations after hours of debating a controversial testing provision, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The testing rules require medical cannabis cultivators to have their material tested twice by two different labs, once when the plants are harvested and a second time after the cannabis has been processed into finished products, the news outlet reported.

While trade groups have opposed the provision, arguing that testing twice is meaningless, officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health claimed that the rule would prevent growers from using labs that provide inaccurate or purposely altered results, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Under Pennsylvania’s temporary medical cannabis regulations, growers could use one lab, the news outlet reported, although Act 44 of 2021 updated the rules to specify that they can use “one or more labs.”

That language was the impetus for Thursday’s debate on the testing rules, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the commissioners ultimately voted to approve the final set of regulations, saying that, overall, they are likely to serve the public’s best interest.

Other provisions in the rules approved this week include a requirement that medical cannabis dispensaries employ on-site pharmacists at every location, rather than having one pharmacist covering several locations remotely, according to a PennLive.com report.

There are roughly 414,000 patients currently enrolled in Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program, the news outlet reported, and the state has 35 grower/processors and more than 50 dispensary operators, which can each have up to three retail locations.

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