Until Monday, New Kensington’s Darci Brown had to travel a half-hour to Monroeville to get the medical marijuana she uses to treat her mental illnesses.
Now, she’s within walking distance of a dispensary.
Cresco Labs opened its CY+ medical marijuana dispensary Monday morning at 4 Kensington Square in downtown New Kensington. Brown was one of the first people in line.
“This medicine is necessary for my life to exist,” Brown, 31, said. “This is a godsend. It really is. I don’t use it to get high. This is like my lifeline to be able to leave my house. It calms me enough to be in public.”
Brown is prescribed marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, but she also suffers from other mental illnesses that she said are kept in check by marijuana.
It’s people like Brown that Cresco is trying to serve better with its dispensaries, company spokesman Jason Erkes said.
In February 2018, Cresco’s Butler dispensary became the first in Pennsylvania under the state’s medical marijuana program. It also operates a location in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
“Our whole philosophy as a company is we want to normalize and professionalize the cannabis industry and we want patients to have the same experience that they would going to their local pharmacy to pick up their medicine,” Erkes said.
The dispensary will carry a full line of medical marijuana products, including a dry-leaf brand Reserve that’s launching at the New Kensington location. It also carries vape pens and cartridges, oral sprays, pills and patches to administer the drug.
Not everyone was thrilled to have a dispensary in New Kensington.
Christine Lorriman, who lives across the street at Citizens Plaza Apartments, said she wasn’t against people being able to use medical marijuana, but questioned why the dispensary had to be located across the street from a high-rise apartment building catering to senior citizens.
“I’m not thrilled that we have that kind of facility across the street. There are some very fragile elderly people that live here. I don’t think it’s a good thing,” Lorriman, 68, said.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman was on hand Monday to cut a ceremonial ribbon to mark the opening of the dispensary. His wife Gisele was among the first customers. She uses marijuana for chronic pain.
“This is an important industry in Pennsylvania. Beyond that is the relief and the quality of life this brings to the residents,” Fetterman said.
Patients must be referred by a certified physician and receive a state-issued identification card to purchase medical marijuana. According to the latest state health department figures released Feb. 15, Pennsylvania has 25 growing and processing facilities, 45 dispensaries and nearly 1,000 certifying physicians that serve more than 83,000 certified patients with identification cards.
Combined, processors and dispensaries sold cannabis products 600,000 times in the past year and had $132 million in gross sales.
Gov. Tom Wolf said earlier this month that the state received $2 million in tax revenue from growers and processors last year.