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Pennsylvania Finally Opens Its First Medical Cannabis Dispensary

Two years after the state’s medical marijuana program was signed into law, patients will now be able to purchase their medicine.

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Registered medical cannabis patients in Pennsylvania will be able to purchase their medicine this week now that the state's first six dispensaries are finally opening their doors. Today, the CY+ dispensary, operated by cultivator Cresco Yeltrah, opened at 9 AM in Butler, near Pittsburgh, and made the state's first legal sale of medical cannabis. This Friday, three more dispensaries will open, and another two will open on Saturday.

"Pennsylvanians have been waiting years for this moment," Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. "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."

Gov. Wolf signed the Medical Marijuana Program into law in April, 2016, and the program is expected to be fully implemented this year. State regulators have approved a total of 10 dispensaries, alongside 10 grower/processors. Over 17,000 patients have registered to participate in the program, but only 4,000 have been certified by a physician at this time. A little over 700 doctors in the state have registered to be able to recommend medical cannabis, and of those, 376 have completed the necessary training.

The state's MMJ law forbids all sales of cannabis flower, but patients will be able to purchase pills, oils, topical products, tinctures, or extracts made for vaping. Unlike dispensaries in Colorado or California, which are set up like stores with a wide range of products available for the taking, Pennsylvania dispensaries are set up more like traditional medical establishments. At the CY+ dispensary, a patient enters a consultation room to meet with the dispensary's medical staff to discuss which product is ideal for their condition. Then, they are directed to a pharmacy-style window to pick up their selected product.

"This is a culmination of over a year's worth of work from the application process to then receiving the license and then really moving forward with developing the project doing construction," Cresco Yeltrah co-founder Charlie Bachtell said to KDKA-TV Pittsburgh. "We're on both sides of this. We're vertically integrated in Pennsylvania. So we're a grower, a processor, and a dispensary — a lot of work, but it's great to cross the finish line here."