A Lower Paxton Township-based company that opened its first medical marijuana dispensary in Lower Paxton Township in June, has now opened a growing facility in Penn Township, Perry County and another dispensary in Lancaster.
Last month, PA Options for Wellness opened the grow/process facility at 50 Perry Ave. in the Perry Innovation Park in Penn Township near Duncannon, which is also home to Mutzabaugh’s Family Market, Members 1st Federal Credit Union, Rite Aid and others.
Construction on the outside of the building has been completed and construction also has been completed party on the inside of the building as well. The facility is in what the company is calling its first of probably three to four phases, according to PA Options for Wellness CEO, Thomas Trite, who founded the company in 2014. During each phase the company plans to expands its growing operation.
At the moment the facility employs seven people and is growing medical marijuana at the moment strictly for research. In the next two months probably, the company plans to double its employees and will be hiring new employees for positions for growing, security, processing and packaging. By the first quarter of next year the company hopes to employ 30 to 40 people at the facility. Eventually the company plans to hire more than 60 people at the 65,000-square-foot facility.
The medical marijuana company announced last year that it is collaborating with Penn State on research. The university – whose College of Medicine and affiliated Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, are an state-approved academic clinical research center – and PA Options for Wellness – a state-approved clinical registrant – signed a 10-year research agreement.
PA Options for Wellness will provide funding to Penn State over 10 years, a significant portion of which will go to the College of Medicine to study health outcomes-based research and pre-clinical studies on the potential benefits of cannabinoids and medical marijuana. The College of Medicine will assist PA Options for Wellness determine which types of marijuana extracts are optimal for various conditions. The research work will focus on pain management and anti-cancer activity initially.
The company has been working with Penn State for about a year and now that it has opened its medical marijuana dispensaries, it has begun signing people up for outcome studies.
“There’s a lot of people interested in the research,” Trite said.
Trite said the outcomes studies will involve thousands of people other more specialized smaller studies will involve less than 100 people.
“Were really focus on the patients — certainly improving patient outcome and quality of life,” he said.
The company now has two dispensaries under its Vytal Options brand. The first dispensary opened in June at its headquarters at 4711 Queen Ave. And earlier this month the company opened a second dispensary at 39 E. Chestnut St. in Lancaster. The Pennsylvania Department of Health deemed the Lancaster location operational in August.
Because the company is only growing marijuana at this point for research, it isn’t selling its own products yet.
Approved patients who possess a valid medical marijuana identification card can shop at the dispensary from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The dispensary will have pharmacists available on-site to answer any questions.
The company plans to eventually open four more dispensaries across Pennsylvania. The company has submitted plans to the Pennsylvania Department of Health for a new dispensary in Lansdale, Montgomery County. Plans are still in the works for the other three dispensaries.
Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana in 2016, allowing it to be used to treat 17 medical conditions. Last year the list grew to include 23 conditions. Someone with one of the conditions must have it certified by a doctor who is state-approved. Then they can obtain a card enabling them to buy medical marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary.
The new dispensary in Lancaster is one of several dispensaries that have opened or will open in the midstate. Numerous companies have opened or will open dispensaries (under the same name or a different name) in central Pennsylvania. Organic Remedies Inc. was awarded permits in East Pennsboro Township and Chambersburg; Lebanon Wellness Center LLC was awarded permits in Lebanon and Gettysburg; KW Ventures Holdings LLC was awarded permits in Steelton, Guilford Township near Chambersburg and in North Middleton Township near Carlisle; Cansortium Pennsylvania LLC was awarded a permit in Penn Township near Hanover; Bay LLC was awarded a permit in in Manheim Township near Lancaster; Harvest of South Central PA LLC was awarded a permit in Harrisburg; Harvest of Camp Hill has opened in Lower Allen Township; Local dispensaries LLC was awarded a permit in Harrisburg and GTI Pennsylvania LLC was awarded a permit in Mechanicsburg. And Rise York opened in West Manchester Township near York. PA Options for Wellness has opened a location in Lower Paxton Township and a location in Lancaster.