On Tuesday, Pennsylvania gave a medical cannabis cultivator permission to start production on a commercial scale. From the western part of the state, just northeast of Pittsburgh in Jefferson County, Cresco Yeltrah is just one of 12 other growers already licensed to supply Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, says the Department of Health, of which all except Yeltrah are still waiting to begin.
“Every day we hear from patients who are desperately waiting for medical marijuana to help alleviate the symptoms of their serious medical conditions,” said Governor Tom Wolf in a statement. “My message to them today is that Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is moving forward, and we will have medication to them sometime in 2018.”
Wolf verified the Department of Health’s announcement, “Cresco Yeltrah will now be able to grow medical marijuana, making sure that patients will not have to wait much longer.” After passing several state health inspections, the state cleared Yeltrah to start accepting both clones and seeds to cultivate medical cannabis, as it integrates fully with seed-to-sale tracking software approved by the state.
In a statement, Acting Health Secretary and Physician General, Rachel Levine, said, “In the coming weeks, we expect the 11 other growers to be ready to grow and process medical marijuana. We are working with them, as well as the dispensaries, to ensure the program stays on track. Patients are our first priority, and we want to get medication to them as safely and efficiently as possible.”
The 12 cultivators and processors received their state-issued permits back in June, for which there were 177 applications. Twenty-seven other entities also received department-issued licenses to operate retail outlets, including Mission Pennsylvania II, LLC, at 2733 W. Emmaus Avenue in Allentown and GuadCo LLC’s Keystone Canna Remedies, at 2467 Baglyos Circle in Bethlehem Township.
In a news release, Cresco Yeltrah says that it is busy building a state-of-the-art laboratory and growing center in northwest Brookville. It is also constructing dispensaries in Butler, the Strip District in Pittsburgh, and a third, as of yet unannounced location. The company says that it began work on converting the over 40,000-square-foot facility immediately after receiving its license.
In the words of the press release, “All of the required mechanisms are in place to ensure the safety and security, as required by law. With a controlled cultivation environment, a full grow cycle takes approximately 120 days, which will allow for their complete line of products to be available for patients statewide in February 2018.”
Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana law allows pills, oils, topical applications, such as creams, ointments and gels, and forms suitable for administration by nebulization or vaporization. However, it does not permit the sale of dry leaf or bud, or any plant form actually. It also excludes liquids and tinctures for making edibles.
According to Cresco Yeltrah’s statement, it “will grow a variety of over 30 different genetic strains in Brookville, and it will produce a unique array of innovative pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products, ranging from high CBD strains, vapor oils, transdermal patches, and pills. Cresco Yeltrah’s distinctive line of products ensures patients will receive consistent, repeatable, precision-dosed medicine.”
The company further stated, “As the program does not allow for the sale of raw marijuana flower, its scientifically developed products utilize all beneficial properties of the marijuana plant, including methods of relief without the typical ‘high’ or euphoric feeling the plant is known for.” Furthermore, Cresco is throwing itself into community outreach with superb enthusiasm.
The cultivator and processor recently launched an outreach campaign to raise awareness of medical marijuana. It features digital ads, print, and billboards designed to educate everyone in Pennsylvania about its use, particularly those diagnosed by their doctors with any of the 17 medical conditions approved by the state for legal cannabis use. They are, in alphabetical order and verbatim:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity.
HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, and AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Gov. Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program into law on April 17 last year. Despite Bethlehem-based Keystone ReLeaf, LLC, filing a lawsuit to prevent the issuance of cultivating or processing licenses, its rollout continues unabated. The suit, which the company filed on September 8, is still pending in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. The hearing will occur in Harrisburg on October 31.