PA: Union Township Prepares For Possible Medical Marijuana Dispensary

Photo Credit: Richard Vogel

A Boulder, Colo.-based group is seeking permission to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Union Township.

Holden Farahani, managing partner for Sirona Colorado, discussed plans for the proposed dispensary at Wednesday’s supervisors meeting.

Supervisors voted unanimously to approve amending the definition of a pharmacy in a C-1 district to include a medical marijuana dispensary, subject to the rules and regulations set forth in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana statute.

The amendment enables Sirona to complete its application for a dispensary license, which is due May 17. The state Department of Health is accepting applications for 13 new grower/processor licenses and 23 new dispensary licenses.

Farahani said his group plans to operate the dispensary at 3 Airport Road, if it receives a dispensary license. The group also is proposing to open a wellness center in the building.

The state medical marijuana law, enacted in April 2016, allows Pennsylvanians with one of 17 qualifying serious medical conditions to obtain the drug with a physician’s recommendation.

Sirona applied for a Pennsylvania grower/processor permit during the first round of applications, but it did not receive one of the 12 grower/processor permits issued by the state Department of Health. The state also issued 27 permits for dispensaries during the first round, 13 of which are approved to open.

Farahani, a Penn State University graduate and former restaurateur who served as a Subway development agent and has lived in Southwestern Pennsylvania for about 20 years, said he was motivated to become involved in the medical marijuana industry after seeing the positive impact cannabis had on a friend’s daughter, who suffered from epileptic seizures.

The girl, he said, had participated in a pilot test program in Pennsylvania until the program was discontinued, and her family moved to Colorado so that she could have access to medical marijuana.

“She continued to get better. I saw this girl go from having multiple seizures a day to last winter, when she was sledding down a snow hill,” said Farahani. “I’ve run into so many people with fibromyalgia, from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson’s disease that, for whatever reason, this plant is helping people.”

He moved with his family to Colorado about 2 1/2 years ago to learn more about the medical cannabis industry.

“Everyone thought I was crazy … but I wanted to get to the bottom of why the plant was doing what it’s doing for certain people,” said Farahani.

The Sirona facility in Colorado produces several medical cannabis products sought after in Pennsylvania, he said.

Farahani said the dispensary would employ approximately four full-time employees and five part-time employees.

About 20 audience members attended the meeting, and several clapped after supervisors approved the amendment.

Said Supervisor Charles Trax, “I’m for it, I really am. I think it’s an amazing opportunity.”

More than 25,000 Pennsylvania residents have registered for medical marijuana, and Farahani said about 12,000 of them have been certified to participate in the program.