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Bethlehem medical marijuana dispensary, Berks growing facility get state clearances

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Keystone Canna Remedies in Bethlehem is the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania to get state approval to begin serving patients once the drugs become available, Gov. Wolf announced today.

And one of its potential suppliers, Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania, a growing/processing facility in South Heidelberg Township, said this afternoon that it is ready to begin the cultivation process at its newly constructed 30,000-square-foot building and expects to have products ready for sale in the spring.

Wolf called Keystone Canna Remedies’ approval to begin serving patients “tremendous news for patients and the people who care for them. We are one step closer to providing medical marijuana to patients with serious medical conditions who desperately need this medication.”

Prime Wellness and Franklin Labs in Reading were two of 12 companies in the state awarded permits by the state Department of Health in June to grow and process medical marijuana. Nine of those companies have been approved by the state to begin operations.

The Berks companies’ permits cover Region 1, which includes Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia and Schuylkill counties.

“We are excited to have met this important milestone and look forward to moving on to the next phase of our efforts to enable compassionate health care through the legal and ethical use of medical marijuana,” Sharon Ali, CEO of Prime Wellness of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

“In order to accomplish this, we are committed to building relationships with dispensaries and health care providers.”

Keystone Canna Remedies, 1309 Stefko Blvd., was one of 27 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, and five in the Greater Lehigh Valley, including the Poconos, that were awarded permits by the state health department in June.

The others were Mission Wellness Pennsylvania II LLC, 2733 W. Emaus Ave., Allentown, Harvest Inc. and Franklin BioScience, both in Muhlenberg Township, and Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC-Tobyhanna Dispensary in Blakeslee.

Harvest Inc. and Franklin BioScience had both planned to open dispensaries on North Fifth Street Highway.

Acting Health Secretary and Physician General Dr. Rachel Levin said she expects the medical marijuana program will be ready for full operation within the 18- to 24-month time frame the governor set out when he signed the legislation into law on April 16, 2016.

More than 10,000 Pennsylvania residents have signed up for medical marijuana identification cards, and about 1,200 patients have been certified by physicians to use medical marijuana.

Nearly 600 physicians are being trained or have completed training to certify patients.

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