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Pennsylvania awards medical marijuana dispensary permits

Ben Schmitt
| Thursday, June 29, 2017, 1:54 p.m.
Marijuana plants
REUTERS
Marijuana plants

Medical marijuana dispensaries are coming to Greensburg, Squirrel Hill and Oakland among other places in Pennsylvania, the state department of health announced Thursday.

The department released the names of 27 statewide medical marijuana dispensaries, which include two in Allegheny County and one in Westmoreland.

Each of the 27 dispensary permit holders is eligible to open three locations, the state said in a news release. Some have opted not to have additional locations, which will bring the total up to 52.

In Allegheny County, both primary dispensary locations are in Pittsburgh: Keystone Relief Centers LLC lists a Squirrel Hill address and Maitri Medicinals LLC lists an Oakland address.

The Westmoreland County dispensary, Keystone Integrated Care LLC, lists a Greensburg address of 303 East Pittsburgh Street.

Keystone Integrated lists a secondary location in Lawrenceville and a third location in Cranberry.

Maitri lists a secondary location in Uniontown.

Keystone Relief lists a secondary location in Zelienople.

Allegheny County's first county executive, Jim Roddey, and Nicholas Geanopulos, owner of Nicky's restaurant on Grant Street, were listed on a November SEC filing for Keystone Relief Centers LLC. Its CEO, Mary Del Brady, said both are still involved and Roddey is a co-founder.

"It feels really good to get this news," Brady told the Tribune-Review. "But we have to get going."

Each approved dispensary is allowed two secondary locations. The locations cannot be in the same county as the main dispensary but they must remain in the same state-designated geographical region as the primary dispensary.

"This has been a highly competitive process, and the department received hundreds of quality applications," said John Collins, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana. "Once this program is fully operational, patients with serious medical conditions will have locations throughout the commonwealth where they can purchase medication to help in their treatment. We remain on track to provide medication to patients in 2018."

Keystone Relief's Squirrel Hill location, at 3885 Forward Ave., is a vacant building near the Greenfield border. Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor, who represents the district housing the site, said Keystone Relief should make a good community neighbor.

Part of its exterior design includes adding a walking trail that would connect Squirrel Hill to Greenfield, O'Connor said.

"Medical marijuana is something that is legal in the state, and I support it," O'Connor said. "They met with community groups and worked through all the questions people have. I understand that not everybody is going to be in favor of this."

O'Connor said Keystone Relief has promised to be safe and secure.

"They'll be getting people needed relief for their health issues, and I think that is really important," he said.

Brady said 10 small investor groups include doctors, pharmacists, researchers and people from the nursing field. She anticipated 10 to 12 jobs at the Squirrel Hill location and fewer in Zelienople.

"We took the time to make sure the neighborhood understands who ware are and what we are doing and that we want to be a part of the community and its story," she said. "We plan to bring relief to the many chronic diseases that medical marijuana can help ease."

Last week, the state announced permits Tuesday to 12 companies that applied to grow and process medical marijuana.

The state will not set prices for soon-to-be unveiled dispensaries, but it has the right to cap pricing.

Under state law, patients can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a medical marijuana bill into law in April 2016.

Medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will be available in pills, oils, tinctures and ointments. The health department is regulating the program, which forbids smoking marijuana in dry leaf form.

The state Office of Medical Marijuana received 457 applications — 177 for growers and processors and 280 for dispensaries.

Click here for a PDF list of the dispensary locations.

Staff writer Theresa Clift contributed to this report. Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @Bencschmitt.

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