No medical marijuana grower permits awarded in York

David Weissman
York Dispatch
The Pennsylvania Department of Health handed out the state's first ever medical marijuana grower/processor permits.
  • State Department of Health awarded 12 medical marijuana grower/processor permits, but none in York.
  • Permits were awarded to applicants in Fulton and Franklin counties, which were in York's region.
  • Department set to announce up to 27 dispensary permit winners by end of June.

The state Department of Health on Tuesday announced the recipients of the state's first-ever medical marijuana grower/processor permits, and none will be located in York County.

The department had to choose 12 winners among 177 applicants with two permits awarded in each of six regions.

York County is part of a 13-county region that includes Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin, Lebanon and Perry counties. The department received 29 applications for grower/processor permits in the region.

The applicants chosen in the region, Ilera Healthcare LLC and AES Compassionate Care LLC, will be placing facilities in Fulton and Franklin counties.

Ilera Healthcare's facility will be at 3786 N. Hess Road in Waterfall, while AES Compassionate Care's facility — named Grassroots Cannabis — will be at 1086 Wayne Ave. in Chambersburg.

John Collins, director of the state's Office of Medical Marijuana, said each grantee will be given six months to become operational, and the facilities won't be able to begin growing cannabis until the state deems it operational.

York applicants: Two groups known to be planning facilities in York County were Five-Leaf Remedies Inc. and Viridis Medicine LLC.

Five-Leaf Remedies had received a zoning variance in March from York City Council to turn a warehouse at 213 E. Poplar St. into a medical marijuana growing/processing facility.

The investors — including several well-known Yorkers — incorporated as a benefit corporation, which is a for-profit company that structures nonprofit giving into its bylaws.

Investors planned to spend more than $2.4 million to renovate the 35,000-square-foot facility, which is being used to grow vegetables in preparation for the medical marijuana plant.

Chris Kauffman, spokeswoman for Five-Leaf Remedies, said her team was disappointed following the announcement but proud of the effort they put forward.

"First and foremost, we're happy to see the state moving ahead to provide safe access to medicine to citizens who desperately need it," she said.

Viridis Medicine had received approval from Hellam Township supervisors in February to build a nearly 50,000-square-foot medical cannabis growing/processing facility at 6287 Lincoln Highway.

Company officials had told the township the proposed building would cost about $6 million.

Investors in the company include George Hodges, cousin and former business partner of Gov. Tom Wolf, and Jeff Geisel, co-president of Henry's Seafood in Hellam Township.

Representatives for Viridis could not immediately be reached for comment.

The department scored each applicant based on a variety of factors — including capital requirements, security and community impact — and posted each applicant's score on its website. The maximum score was 1,000.

Ilera and AES received scores of 744 and 722, respectively, while Five-Leaf and Viridis were given scores of 544 and 536, respectively.

One other applicant in the region, GTI Pennsylvania LLC, actually received a higher score than AES, but it was granted a permit in a different region instead.

Collins said each applicant would have 10 days to appeal the department's decision.

Dispensaries: In addition to the two grower/processor permits, the region is slated to receive up to four dispensary permits, one of which is earmarked for York. Collins said he would announce dispensary permit winners by the end of June.

Five-Leaf Remedies and Viridis Medicine both also applied for dispensary permits.

The department will be awarding up to 27 dispensary permits throughout the state. It received 40 applications for dispensary permits in York's region and 280 overall.

According to the department, each dispensary permit owner may open up to three dispensaries, but each must be located in a different county within the same region.

Kauffman said Five-Leaf's application included three locations, one each in York, Cumberland and Dauphin counties. The York location would be at the former Medicine Shoppe on South Queen Street.

She added that her team was going to have a meeting to discuss the future direction of the corporation, including what to do with the York City warehouse.

Viridis is seeking to open a dispensary in Franklin County, according to a report from The Herald-Mail, but the company declined to give an address.

The department is on track to fully implement the state's medical marijuana program in early 2018.

— Reach David Weissman at or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.