BY ANTHONY MARTINELLI \n Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has released a timeframe for when those in the state can expect the opening of the first medical cannabis dispensaries. \n At a press conference held yesterday Health Secretary Karen Murphy said that the department will be accepting applications for cultivation centers and dispensaries starting February 20th and ending March 20th. \n According to Murphy, applications will be available on the department’s website starting January 17th. \n “The purpose behind this medically focused program is to provide medication to those who desperately need it,” Murphy said, noting that they expect close to 1,000 applicants based on initial interest. \n Although the number may be expanded in the future, initially the department will be licensing up to 12 cultivation centers and up to 81 dispensaries throughout the state. \n The opening of the dispensaries are possible thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 3 earlier this year. the measure legalized the use of cannabis products for those who have a qualifying condition and receive a recommendation from a physician; qualifying conditions include cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, seizures, autism, sickle cell anemia, and intractable pain. \n The law allows 25 cultivation centers and up to 150 dispensaries through the state, meaning the Department of Health is initially licensing roughly half of the number of outlets that they are legally allowed to license. \n Senate Bill 3 passed the state’s legislature earlier this year with a combined 191 to 53 vote; it was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf.