- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 20, 2017

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania on Tuesday awarded permits to 12 applicants to grow and process medical marijuana, a landmark as the state aims to make the drug available to patients sometime next year.

The Health Department named the entities scattered across the state that were selected from 177 applicants. The first round of permits for 27 dispensary permits should be announced by the end of next week.

“This was a huge day for patients and for the people of Pennsylvania,” said state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, a main sponsor of the medical marijuana law enacted in April 2016. “We can see light at the end of the tunnel.”

The 12 growers will have six months to meet standards that demonstrate they are operational, after which the state will give them permission to begin growing.

If they don’t make it, state officials will give them more time, after which the agency will consider what next step to take, said John Collins, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana.

On Tuesday, the state released the names and locations of the growers, as well as the scorecards used to decide which applicants were most worthy.

They were judged on such aspects as security, storage, processing and extraction, and the community impact.

Regulations require the growing to be indoors in an enclosed facility.

The state also posted online redacted copies of the successful applicants, including the names of the principal owners.

That revealed that successful applicants included John Hanger, a former policy chief under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and former environmental protection secretary under Gov. Ed Rendell.

Gabe Perlow, chief executive of PurePenn LLC of McKeesport, which got a permit, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that state officials “recognized PurePenn’s business sense and equally strong mission to bring the highest-quality products to patients.”

“Our aim is to improve patients’ quality of life, comfort, and well-being. That principle guides us in every step we take,” Perlow told the paper.

Patients and caregivers should be able to register in September, with cards being issued in November.

The law lets patients take the medicine by pill, oil, vapor, ointment or liquid, but not in a form that can be smoked.

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