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Jefferson County medical marijuana company is first in Pennsylvania to begin growing

Ben Schmitt
| Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, 11:18 a.m.
REUTERS
Cresco Yeltrah building in Brookville.
Supplied
Cresco Yeltrah building in Brookville.

A licensed medical marijuana grower and processor in Jefferson County became the first in the state Tuesday to begin operating.

Gov. Tom Wolf said the Department of Health has approved Cresco Yeltrah in Brookville, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, to begin growing and processing.

“Every day, we hear from patients who are desperately waiting for medical marijuana to help alleviate the symptoms of their serious medical conditions,” Wolf said. “My message to them today is that Pennsylvania's medical marijuana program is moving forward and we will have medication to them sometime in 2018. Cresco Yeltrah will now be able to grow medical marijuana, making sure that patients will not have to wait much longer.”

Cresco Yeltrah underwent several state inspections from the Department of Health to get up and running and will be operating under a seed-to-sale tracking system. Cresco Yeltrah will now be able to begin accepting seeds and clones to grow medical marijuana.

“Providing relief to patients across the state as quickly as possible is our focus,” said Charlie Bachtell, Cresco Yeltrah's co-founder. “We're appreciative of the support the governor and his administration have given this program — always keeping their focus on the best interests of patients. We're very pleased to be the first company in Pennsylvania to produce medical marijuana.”

The company will open dispensaries in Butler and Pittsburgh's Strip District.

“In the coming weeks, we expect the 11 other grower/processors to be ready to grow and process medical marijuana,” Acting Health Secretary and Physician General Rachel Levine said. “We are working with them, as well as the dispensaries, to ensure the program stays on track. Patients are our first priority, and we want to get medication to them as safely and efficiently as possible.”

The state's medical marijuana program went into effect in May 2016 and is expected to be fully implemented by next year.

Under state law, patients can apply for a state-issued medical marijuana card if a doctor certifies that they have one of 17 qualified medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis and seizure disorders. Medical marijuana will be available in pills, oils, tinctures and ointments. The health department is regulating the program, which forbids smoking marijuana in dry leaf form.

Cresco Yeltrah said it will grow a variety of genetic strains in Brookville and produce an array of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products including high CBD strains, vapor oils, transdermal patches and pills. The company plans a complete line of products to be available at dispensaries statewide by late January 2018.

A full grow cycle takes about 120 days, according to Cresco Yeltrah.

Ben Schmitt is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991, bschmitt@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Bencschmitt.

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