Two veteran Philadelphia legislators want to make certain the city isn’t left out of the cannabis green rush.
The state awarded 12 permits last year to cultivate medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia was shut out. Councilman Derek S. Green (D., At-Large) and St. Rep. Jordan A. Harris (D., 186th) are seeking to keep that from happening again.
The lawmakers will hold a news conference at City Hall Wednesday morning to push for Philadelphia “to be considered a top priority” as the state prepares to dole out 13 more permits to grow marijuana in climate-controlled warehouses.
The Department of Health is accepting applications until May 17 for Phase II of the medical marijuana program.
During Phase I of the permitting process, the health department divided the state into six regions. More than 170 companies applied to grow marijuana. At least three of the firms wanted to build their grow houses in Philadelphia.
Each region was awarded two growing permits. In the southeastern region, both permits went to Berks County.
“I was surprised none were awarded to Philadelphia,” said Green in an interview on Tuesday. “We’re the largest city in the commonwealth and the city with the largest amount of poverty in the country. When you look at the possibilities for economic development, this was a missed opportunity to move forward with a burgeoning industry.”
Under Phase II, each of the six regions could get up to two more marijuana growers. The highest scoring applicant will be able to place its facility anywhere in the state. Health also will grant 23 more permits to dispense marijuana products. Winners will be announced in late summer or early fall. The applications will be scored by an anonymous panel which the state has said is necessary to insulate the process from political influence.
Green said he wasn’t agitating for any particular grower or any one neighborhood to be awarded a permit.
“I’m not into the selection,” Green said. “But Philadelphia should be benefiting from this. We want to introduce the industry to people in the city and to people who may be thinking of it as a career opportunity.”