Medical marijuana will be available in the commonwealth Thursday. The closest dispensary to our coverage area is in Bethlehem and will be fully operational Friday. The products are only available to patients who been approved by the Department of Health and prescribed marijuana by a physician.

Approximately 17,000 patients have applied for permission to get medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, but right now only about 4,000 have been approved. Lucky for those folks, five dispensaries across the state will be open by the end of the week.

Medicinal marijuana has been a long time coming in Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf and the Office of Medicinal Marijuana have advertised it as a better pain management option than many other drugs.

Nearly 800 doctors have registered to participate in the program. Like patients, they must also apply to the department of health for permission. They are also required to take a four hour training course. To date, about 380 have completed the training and are able to prescribe it

State Officials say the next step for now is making the products more available to the 4,000 plus patients who already have the green-light to buy them.

In total there are 10 growers and 10 dispensaries approved and ready to become fully operational. 

You can find out more about the medical marijuana program in Pennsylvania by visiting medicalmarijuana.pa.gov.