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Monroeville

Medical cannabis dispensary opens in Monroeville

Dillon Carr
| Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, 10:36 a.m.
The Healing Center opens on Monroeville with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 25. Making it official co-founders Jay Richards, his wife Amber, Chris Kohan and his wife Melanie cut the ribbon at the Mall Boulevard center. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review
The Healing Center opens on Monroeville with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 25. Making it official co-founders Jay Richards, his wife Amber, Chris Kohan and his wife Melanie cut the ribbon at the Mall Boulevard center. Lillian DeDomenic | For The Tribune Review

Monroeville welcomed its first medical cannabis dispensary when its owners cut a ceremonial ribbon at an event inside the newly built facility.

“This is a good addition to the medical community,” said Deputy Mayor and Councilman Greg Erosenko. “I hope this place gets filled up with people who need it.”

The Healing Center finished construction on its 7,000-square-foot building at 130 Mall Circle Drive in early September. The owners held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 25 , and plans to open its doors for business on Sept. 28 .

There are two main parts of the facility for patients, said Chris Kohan, 50, the dispensary’s co-owner. The first room resembles a medical waiting room with a glass partition for a staff member to sit behind when registering new patients.

In the second larger room, patients are greeted with high ceilings, windows and exposed wooden beams. This room is where patients choose from the dispensary’s many strands and forms of medical cannabis and accessories, available in tinctures, dry leaf, ointments and pills. The store also sells vape gear.

Before choosing, however, patients will be counseled on which forms might work best for them in a private room, Kohan said.

“Our motto is: start low, go slow. Especially if you’re new to this,” he said.

Patients are then directed to browse the dispensary’s product on one of its several touch-screen tablets.

If they don’t have cash on hand, patients can access one of the two ATMs available. Because marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the Pennsylvania market operates on a cash basis without insurance.

The Healing Center’s prices for its products range from $20 for 1 gram of Cresco Yeltrah’s “Alien Bubba” dry leaf cannabis to $130 for 1 gram of Standard Farm’s “Blueberry Indica oil syringe” extract cannabis.

The facility also has the space for future wellness programs featuring chiropractic and yoga classes, Kohan said.

“We’ll have to wait on the state for that, though,” he said.

The facility has 60 to 70 surveillance cameras throughout and will have up to three armed security guards on the premise at all times.

“You can’t go anywhere in this building without being watched – unless you’re in the bathroom,” Kohan said.

There also is a secure loading dock where the cannabis is checked in to the dispensary’s inventory system. Once that’s done, the cannabis is placed within a humidity- and temperature-controlled vault.

“It keeps everything safe,” Kohan said, adding the facility has ultraviolet lighting to prevent mold and mildew from growing on the product.

About 50 people attended the ribbon cutting ceremony Sept. 25, including Tim Joyce of state Sen. Jim Brewster’s office, future patients, medical marijuana certified doctors and representatives from area dispensaries and growers.

Sam Britz, CEO of Solevo Wellness, a dispensary in Squirrel Hill, wished Kohan and his co-owner, Jay Richards, the best of luck.

“As long as people are getting quality care, that’s fine,” Britz said.

Diana Briggs, 48, of Export, has an 18-year-old son with intractable epilepsy, which she said used to subject him to around 400 seizures a day before he tried medical marijuana.

“Now he only has about 20,” she said, adding they will be a patient at the Monroeville dispensary. “A lot of people have said, ‘Well, you’re just getting him high.’ I got my son high on pharmaceuticals. He’s more healthy now than he’s been his whole life.”

The Healing Center has another location in Washington and plans to start construction on a third next month in Cranberry Township.

Patients must have one of 21 medical conditions to be prescribed cannabis, including epilepsy, cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders.

The dispensary’s location in Monroeville will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Appointments are not needed.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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