Medical marijuana, though still in its infancy in Pennsylvania, has become a $350 million industry since the first dispensary opened in February 2018. Stakeholders are many, from growers and processors to doctors, dispensaries, patients and law enforcement. Today, CNHI newsrooms in Pennsylvania, as well as those in Maryland and Ohio, begin a multi-day special report looking at this burgeoning industry, the impact it is having on patients, the money that is already being made and what the future holds for medical marijuana in a country where 11 states plus the District of Columbia have already made it legal to buy and consume recreational marijuana.

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A Pennsylvania legal settlement that forced an Arizona-based medical marijuana provider's subsidiaries to surrender two dispensary licenses in August was portrayed in some circles as a victory strike against "Big Marijuana" — the fast-growing companies that are dominating the competition across the nation.

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HARRISBURG — In the two-and-a-half years since Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 16 of 2016, making Pennsylvania then the 24th state to allow patients to use medical marijuana, the state’s program has created a multi-million dollar industry with dozens of dispensaries scattered across the state.

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Law enforcement officials say the legalization of medical marijuana has them concerned about enforcing DUI laws and the possibility that it could lead to abuse of harder addictive drugs.

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As Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation medical marijuana research program begins gearing up, doctors across the state are already treating patients using the substance to treat a wide variety of serious conditions.