HARRISBURG — A licensed grower and processor of medical marijuana in northwestern Pennsylvania became the first with the state’s approval to begin planting seeds Tuesday.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration said the Department of Health approved Cresco Yeltrah’s operations at its Jefferson County location, a former carbon graphite and metal graphite factory in Brookville that closed four years ago.
Tuesday’s approval makes the 40,000-plus-square-foot facility the first to be deemed fully operational in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, which Wolf’s administration expects to start selling products in retail dispensaries next year.
With signoff on the facility’s growing operation, seed planting can begin. A full grow cycle takes approximately 120 days, during which the company said it will wrap up construction on the processing facility.
Cresco Yeltrah said it will grow a variety of over 30 genetic strains at the Brookville facility and will produce an array of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products including vapor oils, transdermal patches and pills.
It expects the complete line of products to be available for patients statewide in February, it said.
The department expects 11 other licensed grower-processors to be operational in the coming weeks. It issued the permits in June, selecting the 12 winners from among 177 applicants. The department has also issued permits to 27 entities to operate retail dispensaries, including three to be operated by Cresco Yeltrah.
Cresco Yeltrah is a partnership between Cresco Labs LLC of Chicago and the Hartley family, which owns various Butler-based glass manufacturing businesses.
Pennsylvania is the second state where Cresco Labs is operating. The firm began as a medical marijuana grower and processor in Illinois and is now the largest grower and processor there, with about 100,000 square feet at three facilities. Its products are sold in every dispensary in Illinois.
In Pennsylvania, patients could take marijuana in pill, oil, vapor or liquid form, but they cannot legally obtain marijuana to smoke or to grow their own. The law lists 17 qualifying diagnosed conditions, including HIV/AIDS, autism, cancer, chronic pain and Crohn’s disease.
Physicians must be registered by the state to certify that a patient has an eligible condition, and a patient must get a Department of Health-issued ID card.
Wolf signed Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program into law in April 2016. While retail sale is awaiting regulations and licensing, a safe harbor provision in the bill has allowed parents to avoid the wait by legally buying medical marijuana from another state for their children.