Pennsylvania medical marijuana director says retail prices don’t go down with wholesale prices

Outgoing manager John Collins says the awards are a ‘red flag’

  • Brett Sholtis

(Harrisburg) – The office of the state’s director of medical marijuana says cannabis dispensaries are failing to pass cost savings on to patients.

Wholesale dry leaf cannabis has fallen from $10.65 per gram in January 2021 to $6.65 per gram over the past month, director John Collins said at a March 22 advisory board meeting. That’s a drop of 38%.

Meanwhile, the average dry leaf cannabis at retail fell from $14.90 per gram to $13.40 over the same period, a drop of just 10%.

The number of grower-processors and dispensaries exploded over the same period, Collins noted. The number of medical cannabis users has also increased. These are two factors that should lead to lower retail prices.

Regulators have few options because of the way the rules were written in Pennsylvania, said Collins, who is retiring this year. The state could put price caps in place, but that might not solve the problem. “We see evidence of a competitive market, but this again illustrates a bit of restraint on passing those savings on to patients,” Collins said.

Patients should demand lower prices and a subcommittee of the advisory board should examine why retail prices aren’t falling, Collins said. the Advisory Board is intended to ensure patient access, safety and treatment.

“I’m clearly calling today, Secretary, a red flag that needs to be investigated,” Collins said, responding to a question from Pennsylvania Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter.

Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter speaks with members of the media during a press conference at Grandview Health in Sellersville, Pa., Monday, Jan. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

High prices are a problem because they force some patients out of the legal medical cannabis market, said Jeff Riedy, executive director of Lehigh Valley NORML.

“We lobbied the department for many years, obviously from the start of the program that everything was out of price for many patients,” Riedy said.

The state recently implemented initiatives to waive annual cannabis license fees for certain low-income individuals, Riedy noted. It helped people. However, costs remain high for many of the approximately 460,000 people in Pennsylvania who rely on the legal cannabis market.

“It serves industry more than it serves patients right now, and that has to change,” Riedy said.

Marijuana advocates have long criticized Pennsylvania’s tightly regulated system, which does not allow recreational marijuana, or products such as edible cannabis and home cultivation of marijuana plants. A recent national report gave the Commonwealth a “C-” rating, recommending some of these changes.

Bipartisan legislation allowing home cultivation and Republican-sponsored legislation allow the legal use of cannabis by adults make their way through the general assembly of the state.

Five companies with midpoint outlets — Zen Leaf Dispensaries, Trulieve, RISE, Fluent and Organic Remedies — did not respond to requests for comment.

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