Pa. has approved all but two of 12 marijuana growers; Lower Merion gives OK for dispensary

A 10th medical marijuana grower has been approved to begin cultivation in Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Health. Holistic Farms LLC was granted permission Friday to plant its first cannabis crop in Lawrence County, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

That leaves only two of the 12 companies with permits yet to be approved. AES Compassionate Care plans to open in Chambersburg in the south-central part of the state; AgriMed Industries of Pennsylvania is expected to operate in Carmichaels, 20 miles south of Pittsburgh. It was unclear why they have yet to receive approval. Grow houses must undergo several inspections and be plugged into the state seed-to-sale tracking system. Representatives of the companies could not be reached for comment.

On Wednesday, the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners cleared the way for a potential medical marijuana dispensary on Rock Hill Road. Though the township has granted a zoning variance, the state has not issued a permit to any company to operate a facility at the location. A second round of permits could be granted by the Health Department by midsummer but they will be subject to a highly competitive selection process.

The Health Department also certified three laboratories to test marijuana medicines before the products are sold to dispensaries and dispensed to patients. The latest lab approved was Steep Hill Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.

According to the state, 13,000 patients have registered to participate in the program. About 2,100 of those have been certified by an approved physician. Patients with any of 17 qualifying “serious health conditions” are eligible. The first marijuana products are expected to ship to a handful of approved dispensaries during the second week of February.

The dispensaries will only sell oil-based medicines, tinctures, and pills. They will not provide smokable marijuana.