A large stop sign notifies potential entrants that only authorized medical marijuana patients with a medical marijuana identification card may enter Organic Remedies medical marijuana dispensary that opened Friday in Hampden Township.
Joshua Vaughn, The Sentinel
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Cumberland County is officially open for business nearly two years after Gov. Tom Wolf signed the program into law.
Organic Remedies, located in the 4400 block of Valley Road in Hampden Township, had a waiting room full of patients Friday afternoon. It is one of two dispensary locations approved in Cumberland County.
KW Ventures Holdings LLC, operating under the name Firefly Dispensaries, was issued a permit to operate a dispensary in the 800 block of Harrisburg Pike in North Middleton Township. An opening date for that location has not been announced yet.
Patients seeking medical marijuana must first be seen by an approved doctor and receive authorization that they are suffering from one of 17 qualifying medical conditions. There are currently about 50 doctors in the area who have been approved by the state, including nearly a dozen in Cumberland County.
Loose leaf marijuana, commonly used for smoking, is banned under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law. Medical marijuana may only be prescribed in pill, oil, topical, tincture (liquid extract) and liquid form or any form “medically appropriate for use in a vaporizer or nebulizer” other than dry leaf.
Marijuana, including medical marijuana, remains illegal under federal law, meaning it dispensaries cannot be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid. Pennsylvania’s law also does not require private insurers to cover medical marijuana. This can lead to many transactions being done in cash.
Only patients with a valid medical marijuana identification card are allowed to enter the dispensary. A large painted stop sign next to a locked interior door alerts anyone enter of the rules.
A family member of one of the patients inside the dispensary Friday afternoon approached the door to speak to the patient before heading back to her car to wait. Along with an employee working at the front door screening entrants, Pennsylvania law requires dispensaries to use commercial-grade surveillance equipment.
Dispensaries are also to be held to strict inventory and reporting standards, according to the Department of Health.