PA: Business Picks Up At What Is Now Chambersburg’s Lone Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Photo Credit: Markell DeLoatch

Franklin County won’t be getting a second medical marijuana dispensary.

Investors have gotten state approval to relocate the dispensary proposed for Guilford Township to West Manchester Township in York County. Building near Chambersburg would have cost too much, according to Jonathan Gusdorff, managing partner of KW Ventures Holdings LLC.

KW Ventures of Havertown had planned to build Firefly Dispensaries across the street from the Chambersburg Walmart at 1737 Lincoln Way East. Excavation began in August, then stopped.

Chambersburg’s first and only medical marijuana dispensary, Organic Remedies, opened in March at 900 Wayne Ave.

“I guess that means we own Chambersburg as far as patient population,” said Eric Hauser, president and CEO of Organic Remedies. “It may be a good thing. I don’t know that there’s enough patient population in Chambersburg to support two dispensaries. We’re happy things are working out for us in Chambersburg.”

Patients come from as far away as Pittsburgh and State College to pick up medical marijuana at Chambersburg because the Organic Remedies dispensary has a broader selection of products, Hauser said. Supplies statewide currently are relatively scare as processors continue to come online.

“Business is starting to pickup,” Hauser said. “We’re not turning anybody away. We pride ourselves on the time we spend with patients.”

Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments.

“We are encouraged by the results we are getting from our current patients,” said Hauser, a pharmacist at the dispensary. “There’s still a little bit of skepticism out there. It’s a new area, even though it’s been in use in California for 20 years. We’re getting amazing results that can’t be achieved with traditional medications.”

Medical marijuana does not have the ill side effects that other pain and seizure medications can have, according to Hauser.

Medical marijuana is available to a patient whose doctor certifies he or she has a qualifying medical condition. Three more local doctors in three months have been approved to certify patients for participation. The health department has certified seven doctors in Franklin County.

The state recently expanded the uses for medical marijuana to include treatment for opioid dependency.

“We’ve seen in our dispensary the ability to decrease or eliminate opiods from patients’ treatment plans because medical marijuana has worked so well to take care of their pain,” Hauser said.

Hauser said he expects the price of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania “to come down dramatically” by August.

The state has approved the medical use of plant material that does not require extensive processing like oils and resins.

KW Ventures originally operated as Firefly Dispensaries, but teamed up with Green Thumb Industries Inc. to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Steelton and Carlisle under the name RISE.

LLC RISE York is expected to open between August and late-September, said Gusdorff, the KW Ventures partner.

The building, 4395 W. Market St., formerly occupied by Yorktown Pools and Spas, must be renovated before it can open. Demolition is to begin this week.

Gusdorff said that a lot near Chambersburg would have provided a great location for a dispensary. After reviewing the plan and the cost of building a dispensary there, KW Ventures decided to look for another location and put its money “toward patient care.”

John Dymond, owner of the lot, told Public Opinion in February that he would not build the building and lease it to KW because it would be too expensive. He said he offered instead to lease the two-acre lot to KW.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Dymond said on Thursday.

The state Department of Health in a Feb. 9 letter agreed to let KW Ventures’ give up the Chambersburg site to avoid a change in the company’s financial position, “which may result in patients paying higher prices to medical marijuana and diminished patient access.”

In its application to the state to operate three dispensaries, KW Ventures used the name Firefly Dispensaries and chose sites in Steelton, Carlisle and Chambersburg.

Gusdorff said he is excited for RISE to open in York because he knows there is a need for the dispensary in the York area.

“In talking with the police department, they have shared with me the narcotics problem,” and how often emergency responders are administering naloxone, he said. “Our goal is to provide dignified access to medical marijuana to those in need (so) they’re not buying weed on the street corners to take their pain away.”

York will have three medical marijuana dispensaries. York County’s first medical marijuana dispensary, Knox Medical, opened June 5 at 648 Frederick St. in Penn Township. Another dispensary has been proposed for the former South York Diner location.

According to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program website, under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, patients who are state residents, and/or their caregivers, who have a serious medical condition as certified by a physician can get medical marijuana at dispensaries with a permit.

The 21 serious medical conditions that can qualify patients for medical marijuana include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, cancer, Crohn’s disease, dyskinetic and spastic movement disorders, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV and AIDS, Huntington’s disease, neurodegenerative diseases, some opioid use disorder, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, terminal illness and other illnesses.