EDWARDSVILLE — Janice and David Swire listened intently Friday at the ceremonial opening for Justice Grown, Luzerne County’s first medical marijuana dispensary.
The Swires, who both battle acute anxiety, have been treated with medications and have even tried herbal remedies. Both said nothing has worked to give them the relief they seek.
“We’re here to gather information,” Janice Swire said. “We wanted to see what doctors they recommend and we will make an appointment. At this point, we will consider anything that might help us.”
Abbe Kruger, co-owner of Justice Grown, greeted about 50 people who crowded into the business in the Gateway Shopping Center. She said her operation is the fifth dispensary in Pennsylvania to open. She said it’s been a long journey that began when the state released temporary regulations for its medical marijuana program in October 2016.
“That’s when the wise politicians of Pennsylvania came to realize the life-changing impact medical marijuana could have on this state’s patients,” Kruger said.
Kruger said medical pot can help patients with epilepsy in minimizing seizures, cancer patients with side-effects from chemotherapy, and those with symptoms of post-trauma stress disorder — all without the use and abuse of opioids.
Kruger said when the dispensary opens March 20, the hours will be: Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. She said patients can walk in or call 570-763-7200 to make an appointment. Kruger said every Tuesday from now to March 20, she will offer informational sessions at the dispensary from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
14,000 patients registered
State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, R-Kingston, said the state’s medical marijuana program was signed into law in April 2016. Kaufer said the marijuana will be dispensed in several forms: pills, oils, topical forms (gel, creams, ointments), tincture or liquid.
State Sen. John Yudichak, D-Plymouth Township, was unable to attend the ceremony, but he issued a statement via email.
“Justice Grown, an experienced medical marijuana dispensary service, can offer comfort to our northeastern Pennsylvania residents that are battling serious medical issues,” Yudichak said. ”With this dispensary in nearby Edwardsville, patients battling ailments like cancer, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease will now have access to this important treatment option.”
In addition to the permitting and licensing of dispensaries and facilities to grow and process marijuana, doctors are required to attend training to certify state residents as patients. Those patients are then eligible for state-issued identification cards to participate in the program.
Two of the 27 licensed dispensaries and one of the 12 growing and processing facilities are located in the county. Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC is awaiting approval to open the doors to its dispensary on Kidder Street in Wilkes-Barre. Standard Farms of White Haven, meanwhile, has been up and running to get ready to deliver processed marijuana to the dispensaries.
Of the more than 650 doctors approved to certify patients, 12 are in Luzerne County, according to the Department of Health. The state also has registered more than 14,000 patients. More than 2,300 of them have been certified as suffering from one of the 17 serious medical conditions — such as cancer, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS and Parkinson’s disease — that are eligible to be treated with medical marijuana.