The program is growing faster than anticipated, but those signing up for medical marijuana are having a tougher time getting medication. Now dispensaries are saying there could be a shortage until the summer of 2020.
The shortage is getting the medicine in its flower form. With a limited amount of farmers it has become a supply and demand issue for dispensaries, but it is also hurting patients who use other products.
Stephen Kratzer, of Ottsville, says he looks up prices for medical marijuana concentrate everyday. One for the price, and more importantly to see if the dispensary has the product on the shelf.
"You find something that works and it's gone. It's gone forever," Kratz said.
Kratzer says he signed up for the program to avoid opioids, but with the recent shortage of flower product, more patients are buying the concentrate form causing him to go all over the state to find medication that works for him.
Medical marijuana dispensary owners say it's a supply and demand issue. There are 25 approved state growers, but currently only 10 to 12 are shipping product. With close to 200,000 people in the medical marijuana program there is just not enough product statewide.
"Growing is not an easy thing to do. So I don't know if it wasn't necessarily planned for. I think there was some unforeseen circumstances that are leaving us in this position that we are currently in," said Victor Guadagino, co-owner of Keystone Canna Remedies.
Dispensaries say they are trying to get people to use other, more available forms of the drug.The problem for people like Kratzer is that means less medication for him and others he's spoken with.
"They feel bad when you have to turn away someone with terminal cancer," Kratzer said.
Dispensary owners also say the addition of anxiety as an approved condition drove up the number of people getting flower medication.
The condition was approved in July and in the first week 3,000 additional patients were added to the registry statewide.