Two medical marijuana facilities have been approved to open their doors in Harrisburg in 2019, thanks to permits granted today by the state Department of Health.
Harvest of South Central PA, LLC and Local Dispensaries, LLC received permits to operate sales facilities in uptown Harrisburg and South Allison Hill, according to a press release issued by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office this morning.
In all, the state granted 23 permits to dispensaries across the state as part of the second phase of its medical marijuana program, which was signed into law in April 2016. The new facilities will bring the total number of dispensaries in Pennsylvania to 79.
Once they’re fully operational, the dispensaries can sell state-approved products to card-carrying medical marijuana patients. Pennsylvania dispensaries are currently allowed to stock marijuana oils, pills, topical creams and tinctures, as well dried flower and other plant forms that patients can smoke or vaporize.
The Arizona-based Harvest listed the address of its new dispensary as 2500-2504 N. 6th Street in Uptown Harrisburg, the site of the historic Camp Curtin fire station.
That property is currently occupied by Camp Curtin BBQ. The restaurant’s owners could not be reached for comment today.
Ben Kimbro, director of public and strategic affairs for Harvest LLC, could not confirm any real estate transactions taking place ahead of the dispensary’s arrival.
Kimbro said his company must consider local zoning and permitting regulations when evaluating sites for their dispensaries, as well as proximity to potential patients.
He said the facility will open in 2019, once Harvest has obtained local permits and completed site design plans, and could create up to 20 new jobs.
Harvest employees manage product inventory and consult with patients, Kimbro said. All “patient specialists” receive an intensive education in physiology and marijuana terminology so they can help patients find the best products for their ailments.
Harvest was also granted permits for facilities in Reading, Scranton, Shamokin, Johnstown and New Castle, Pa.
“We see Pennsylvania writ large as a great market,” Kimbro said. “Its population centers, the ages of its population and the patients Pennsylvania has chosen for the program — all of it appeals to us a lot.”
The Lehigh Valley-based Local Dispensaries LLC proposed a location at 137 S. 17th Street in South Allison Hill, an undeveloped lot across from the Hamilton Health Center.
Harrisburg mayor Eric Papenfuse said that city officials have met with representatives from both organizations, and welcomed the news that they would open for business in underdeveloped corners of Harrisburg.
“Their business plans are solid, and both projects will create much-needed jobs while spurring economic development in corridors of the city that need it,” Papenfuse said.
Local Dispensaries could be immediately reached for comment today.
A third applicant from the south-central region, GTI Pennsylvania LLC, was also granted a permit for a new facility in Mechanicsburg.
GTI currently operates RISE Steelton, the closest dispensary to Harrisburg. Dispensaries in Enola and Carlisle opened last year under Phase I of the medical marijuana rollout.
“The permitting of these locations as part of Phase II of the medical marijuana program will ensure more people have access to medical marijuana close to home,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said today. “This step continues the growth of our scientific, medically-based medical marijuana program.”
The Department of Health received 180 applications for its Phase II permits, which it evaluated using a scorecard with more than a dozen criteria.
In addition to business and facility plans, dispensary permit applicants must explain how they will transport, store and secure their product inventory. They must also submit diversity plans and show that their facility will have a positive impact on its community.
Applicants must also pay a non-refundable application fee of $5,000, as well as $30,000 permitting fee and proof of $150,000 in start-up capital.
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program allows patients suffering from 21 serious medical conditions – including glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis – to purchase marijuana products at licensed dispensaries.
Patients must obtain a medical marijuana identification card from one of 945 approved physicians. About 66,000 Pennsylvanians have active identification cards, according to the Department of Health.
This story was updated at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18 to include comments from Ben Kimbro.