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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday, Jan. 4, that he was rescinding a policy designed to protect states with legalized marijuana. Wochit

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As federal marijuana policy returns to the forefront of national public conversation and Pennsylvania approved its first medical marijuana dispensary as operational, York County’s lone dispensary awaits state inspection.

Cansortium Pennsylvania LLC was awarded one of 27 available permits to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the state last June.

The company, which also owns permits to operate similar facilities in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, is planning to open its dispensary, to be called Knox Medical, at 644-652 Frederick St. in Penn Township.

Construction on the dispensary has been completed, and the company received its certificate of occupancy in mid-December, according to Adam Sharon, a Knox Medical spokesman.

Awaiting inspection: The company is now waiting for an inspection by the state Department of Health, but no inspection date has been set, Sharon wrote in an email.

More: Medical marijuana dispensary in Penn Township on track

More: Suit questions scoring discrepancies among Pa. medical marijuana applicants

According to state guidelines, medical marijuana dispensaries and growers/processors were supposed to be operational within six months of receiving their permits. April Hutcheson, a department spokeswoman, wrote in an email that if they’re not operational, they must have a timeline for when they will become operational.

Hutcheson wrote that the department has placed a priority on the growers becoming operational so they have the product available for sale and because they are complicated facilities.

The department has already approved nine of 12 permitted growers/processors to begin operations — the closest being Ilera Healthcare in Fulton County — and just approved the state’s first dispensary, Keystone Canna Remedies in Northampton County.

The department has been in contact with the other dispensary owners and anticipates they will successfully pass inspection and be ready to operate in time for medication to arrive at their facilities, Hutcheson wrote.

The department also has approved 250 practitioners – including five physicians in York County — who will be able to prescribe medical marijuana.

Federal intervention: The latest updates come amid a renewed interest in prosecuting marijuana consumers by the federal Justice Department.

The Associated Press reported Thursday, Jan. 4, that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has rescinded an Obama-era policy that paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country.

Instead of the previous lenient federal enforcement policy, Sessions’ new stance will instead let federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal decide how aggressively to enforce longstanding federal law prohibiting it, according to the AP.

More: BLOG: Wolf vows to protect medical marijuana from Sessions

Sessions’ announcement quickly drew rebukes from Gov. Tom Wolf and state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

“The Trump Administration must put patients’ rights first, and I will not stand for backwards attacks on the progress made in Pennsylvania to provide medicine to those in need,” Wolf said in a statement. “We are evaluating the exact impact rescinding the directive could have on Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, but I will continue to do everything in my power to protect Pennsylvania patients.”

DePasquale, who has publicly supported legalizing recreational marijuana in the state, criticized Sessions for “spitting in the faces of the 64 percent of Americans who openly support marijuana legalization.”

“Our attorney general is stuck in the Dark Ages,” he said in a statement. “He is using finite federal resources to fight a war against drugs that was lost decades ago.”

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.

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