Pennsylvania’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Open This Week

Here’s when (and where) you’ll be able to buy medicinal weed near Philly.

medical marijuana dispensaries, cresco yeltrah

Cresco Yeltrah’s medical marijuana products. | Photo courtesy of Cresco Yeltrah

The wait for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania will (at long last) come to an end this week.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are preparing to open throughout the next few days — and the first ever medicinal cannabis sale is planned for 9 a.m. on Thursday at Cresco Yeltrah in Butler, located about an hour north of Pittsburgh.

Near Philly, patients registered for the medical marijuana program will be able to purchase their first dose of medicinal cannabis on Saturday from either Keystone Shops in Devon or Terra Vida Holistic Center in Sellersville.

In total, six dispensaries will open their doors this week. Keystone Canna Remedies in Bethlehem, Solevo in Pittsburgh, and Organic Remedies in Enola (west of Harrisburg) will begin business on Friday.

Gov. Tom Wolf, who signed the state’s medical marijuana program into law in April 2016, celebrated the milestone in a statement on Tuesday.

“Pennsylvanians have been waiting years for this moment,” Wolf said. “Medical marijuana is legal, safe, and now available to Pennsylvanians suffering from 17 serious medical conditions. In less than two years, we have developed a regulatory infrastructure, approved physicians as practitioners, certified patients to participate and launched a new industry to help thousands find relief from their debilitating symptoms.”

So far, the state has approved 10 medical marijuana dispensaries and 10 grower/processors. More than 17,000 people have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, and nearly 4,000 of those people have been certified by a physician. Roughly 700 physicians have registered for the program, and more than 370 of them have completed training to become certified practitioners.

What to expect from the state’s first dispensaries? You won’t be seeing any buds. Pa. law limits medical marijuana to the following forms:

  • Pill
  • Oil
  • Topical forms, including gel, creams, or ointments
  • A form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, excluding dry leaf or plant form
  • Tincture
  • Liquid

At this point, information on average retail pricing remains unknown – but products could cost a pretty penny, especially because most insurance companies likely won’t cover a drug that’s still illegal at the federal level (for now). When dispensaries launched in New Jersey in the fall 2015, an ounce of medicinal cannabis cost patients about $489 on average. That dropped to $300 within a year. Now, an ounce in New Jersey typically costs between $200 and $400.

Are you still looking to get a medical marijuana card? State law allows patients with one or more of 17 qualified medical conditions (like epilepsy, cancer, seizure disorders, and multiple sclerosis) to apply for a medical marijuana card. To get a card, you must:

  1. Create a profile through the Department of Health’s Patients and Caregivers Registry
  2. Obtain a physician’s certification that you suffer from one of the 17 listed medical conditions
  3. Return to the registry and pay for an ID card

For more information on the state’s medical marijuana program, visit the Department of Health’s FAQ page.