New medical marijuana dispensary opening in Springettsbury
At the Organic Remedies Dispensary open house on Saturday, an employee shared the different types of medical marijuana with a visitor.
"If you want something a little fancier, color schemes ..." he said, pointing out several varieties, noting they all do the same thing, but some have extra bells and whistles.
"This one's the Mercedes Benz — $200 bucks," he added.
Once the facility — at the intersection of Haines Road and Mount Rose Avenue in Springettsbury Township — opens for business on Thursday, Oct. 24, any medical marijuana card holder will be able to come in and shop a number of types to treat one or more of 23 state-approved conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
The dispensary has a number of options, including capsules, dry leaf marijuana, oils in cartridges that can be inhaled through vaporization, tinctures — a liquid iteration placed under the tongue — and concentrates.
Prices range from $12 to $60 for vape cartridges, for example, and about $10 to $70 for capsules.
On Saturday, Oct. 19, those interested in learning about the products had a rare opportunity to come in and speak with employees and pharmacists — something people will no longer be able to do once the facility is open. Non-card-holders cannot even step foot in the space.
Organic Remedies CEO and pharmacist Eric Hauser said it was a great opportunity to educate the public about a sometimes-misunderstood product.
"Everyone has an idea of what it is, and usually it's not a favorable one," he said.
What people might not know, Hauser said, is that Organic Remedies is owned and operated by pharmacists. Pennsylvania is one of four states that mandate that pharmacists be involved with dispensaries. The others are New York, Minnesota and Connecticut, he said.
The state's Medical Marijuana Program, implemented by the state Department of Health, was signed into law in 2016 and is one of the country's more stringent medical marijuana laws.
All products must be tested by independent labs three times before sold, which store manager Tim Hooper said ensures harmful fillers or additives, such as Vitamin E Acetate — commonly found in vapor cartridges — do not make it into the facility's products.
Black market vaping products containing THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — are thought to be linked to many cases of a mysterious lung illness that has caused dozens of deaths.
A lot of the issues associated with marijuana use come from black market or illegal additives, Hooper said, adding, "You just don't know what product you're getting off the street."
The process of shopping at Organic Remedies also is hands-on, Hauser said, to ensure that customers get a safe and appropriate product that works for them.
Though experts say no one can overdose from the drug — because it does not attach to receptors in the brain that control breathing — pharmacists do weekly check-ins for new patients to see they are getting "the least amount of drug to get the best effect," he said.
Patients can be any age, he added, noting that his patients range in age from 3 to 97.
Organic Remedies is locally owned, based near its first location in Enola, Cumberland County. Its second location is in Chambersburg, Franklin County, and the store at 1098 Haines Road, in Springettsbury Township, will be its third.
The county's first dispensary, Knox Medical, opened in Penn Township in June 2018, followed by RISE York, in West Manchester Township, in the fall of that year.
Medical marijuana is getting more and more popular, especially with anxiety and tourette syndrome being recent additions to the accepted treatment list, Hauser said.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called last month for legalizing recreational marijuana in the state.
It's something Hooper said would definitely be an interest for the dispensary down the road.
While there are many dispensaries, there are fewer growers, with only 10 of the state's first 24 currently producing. Part of the reason for that might be the expense, Hooper said.
"Some might have bit off more than they can chew," with high costs such as permits and machinery, he said.
Hauser added that there are quite a few costs associated with federal and state regulations that can add up, such as the lab testing and requirement that all sides of a dispensary be covered by security cameras.
Just to keep a hard drive of the security footage for the state's required two years is $100,000, he said.
Another roadblock is that all financial dealings must be in cash because of federal restrictions against banking involvement. The SAFE Banking Act, which would help reduce some of those restrictions, passed the U.S. House last month and sits in the Senate.
Though Pennsylvania might be one of the states with the highest costs, its regulations ensure good quality products, Hauser said.
Several visitors came to the open house on Saturday to check out what would soon be available.
Derek Johnson, of West Manchester Township, was excited to hear there was another medical marijuana dispensary in York County, as he uses it to treat anxiety and appetite.
"It relaxes me," he said. "I don't feel like I'm going to be snapping out on people."
Hauser just hopes that he can continue educating those who might have misconceptions and partner with community members such as law enforcement and health care providers — who were invited to open house events earlier in the week.
For more information on the company and products, visit organicremediespa.com.