HARRISBURG (KDKA) — The state Department of Health granted 27 medical marijuana dispensary permits Thursday, and five of them went to local companies.
Each of the 27 dispensary permit holders is allowed to open a total of three locations, and they have six months to become operational before they can begin dispensing medical marijuana.
There will be a total of 52 dispensaries in Pennsylvania, as not every permit holder has opted to open all three eligible locations.
In Allegheny County, permits were granted to Maitri Medicinals, LCC, and Keystone Relief Centers, LLC. Dispensaries will be located on Boulevard of the Allies in Oakland and Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill, respectively.
Keystone Relief Centers will dispense a variety of medicinal marijuana products, including oils, lotions, vapes and pills. The site will not sell edible products, and a prescription is required.
“When you walk up, you need a prescription from your doctor, and then once you get there, there’s going to be physicians on site that are going to talk to you about the dosage,” Corey O’Connor, Pittsburgh City councilman of Squirrel Hill, said.
The Squirrel Hill community has held a series of meetings to prepare for the site. One of the biggest concerns has been safety.
“It’s actually a very secure location. There’s going to be guards on site each and every day,” O’Connor said, “and there are security cameras in every room, as well as outside the perimeter of the building.”
As part of the plan, Keystone Relief agreed to build a connector bridge to link Squirrel Hill and Greenfield. But O’Connor says the biggest plus to a dispensary in the community is the potential to change lives.
“We’re helping a lot of people in need,” he said, “and if you really look at the research, a lot of the individuals that are going to be going to these dispensary locations are children, and I think now that we’re open to the idea of medical marijuana in the state, it’s going to help a lot of people get the health care they really deserve.”
The state also requires that the dispensaries are cash-only locations.
Permits were also granted to Cresco Yeltrah in Butler, The Healing Center in Washington and Keystone Integrated Care in Westmoreland.
The Medical Marijuana Act is expected to be fully implemented in early 2018.
A full list of dispensary locations can be found on the Health Department’s website here: www.health.pa.gov