How do new patients become better integrated into the cannabis community? In what ways can access to medicine be improved for the low-income population?
Due to the long list of health benefits that come from the plant, nationwide support for cannabis is spreading like wildfire, and these questions are vital as the industry grows. Many people living with serious and chronic diseases have some idea of how medical marijuana can help them, but are not exactly familiar with the science or policy behind obtaining medicine in their state.
Through an additional memo released in August of 2016 by the PA Department of Health, a few preliminary elements and rules of the medical cannabis program have been revealed. Below are some of the ways in which businesses can go beyond the regulatory requirements by reaching out, supporting and integrating with their communities.
In addition to the state-appointed Advisory Board, which will be made up of several types of community members, there are plenty of opportunities to form strong support and accountability systems on the local level. Cannabis businesses in Pennsylvania must do their part to give back to the local community, while at the same time serving as an example of how a legal cannabis operation should be run.
Holding memberships in local organizations and chambers of commerce, providing educational resources and offering tours of your business space are a few ways to draw the community into the process. Whether enlightening patients on some of the science of cannabis, or sharing your business insight, there’s always information you can share.
For many low-income patients, the price of medical cannabis can often often dictate whether they eat or relieve their symptoms that day. Improving access for these patients is critical because they are often the most at risk for further health deterioration.
In regard to helping such patients access the medical cannabis system, Pennsylvania will have a fee waiver for patient applicants who are considered low income. Beyond that, businesses can help lighten the load, too. Dispensaries and grower/processors can easily partner up to develop an impactful low-income discount program.
Based on the draft rules released by the PA Department of Health, each permitted medical marijuana business in the state will be required to develop and implement a diversity plan. This provision was included in order to combat an apparent lack of diversity in other states’ medical cannabis business communities. Apart from making diverse new hires, companies can encourage diversity in the local industry by holding or sponsoring events that specifically reach out to diverse communities.
Without close community involvement, Pennsylvania communities run the risk of low participation numbers in the program, as seen in New York and Illinois. In order to stimulate the medical cannabis economy in our state, it is imperative that new and disadvantaged patients are brought into the fold through advocacy and education.
The Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society is committed to assisting all the working parts of our state’s medical cannabis industry, especially license applicants and business owners. See our industry resources page and consider the perks of membership today for your growing business – or, collaborate with us on one of our engaging and educational cannabis community events.