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Berks medical marijuana dispensaries: As one moves out, another wants to move in

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Harvest Inc. is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz. (Contributed)
Harvest Inc. is headquartered in Tempe, Ariz. (Contributed)

As one medical marijuana company drops its plan to open a dispensary on North Fifth Street Highway in Muhlenberg Township, a competitor wants to move into the available location.

On Saturday, township commissioners gave conditional approval to Harvest Inc.’s request to change its location from its original location at 2701 N. Fifth St. Highway to 3225 Fifth St. Highway, where Franklin BioScience-Penn LLC was awarded a licensed to operate.

Harvest Inc.’s original site for a dispensary, a 60-year-old building formerly occupied by Jack O’Reilly Tuxedos, was expected to cost at least $1.1 million and would have required extensive renovations, including demolition of part of the two-story building.

The new location – the one rejected by Franklin BioScience – was a former FedEx Kinkos store and would require less work, time and money for Harvest to retrofit, said township manager Jamal Abodalo.

The 27 dispensaries approved by the state last spring are under pressure to be up and running by the state Department of Health’s Dec. 29 deadline.

Abodalo said Harvest would be required to build a controlled, confined area where medical marijuana is loaded and unloaded into the building.

“However, if they don’t get approval until the end of November, it would be very difficult for them to build and open by Dec. 29,” he said.

“I’m hoping. We’ll see how it plays.”

Abodalo said Harvest officials have been waiting to get approval from the state to relocate since September when Franklin BioScience was given state approval to relocate.

Officials from Franklin BioScience, based in Colorado, objected to paying the township’s host fee for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Township officials imposed the fee to cover additional costs the township is expected to incur from medical marijuana facilities, including extra police services.

Abodalo said Franklin BioScience has not contacted the township about another location. He said Berks County was the company’s “second or third choice” on its state application.

Based in Temple, Ariz., Harvest Inc. has medical marijuana dispensaries, growing and processing plants in Arizona, Nevada, Illinois and Maryland, and is expanding into Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California and Arkansas.

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