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State approves first midstate medical pot dispensary

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With plans for a grand opening in March, a Lancaster County dispensary expects to be the first in the region to serve medical marijuana patients.

Cure Pennsylvania - owned and operated by Bay LLC - had its location in Manheim Township approved this week after a final round of inspections by the Department of Health. Cure also had a location in Chester County approved, and is awaiting final approval on a third location in Montgomery County.

"We’re very excited to be the first dispensary operator to have multiple locations approved at the same time," said Ryan Smith, COO of Cure Pennsylvania. "We’re very proud of our team and all the hard work that’s gone into place to get these up and ready."

Each location will have a grand opening March 9, but will be accepting appointments on March 7 and March 8 to discuss what products are available and how medical marijuana fits into patients' treatment needs.

The locations will accept walk-in patients starting on March 9, but those wanting to ensure they can obtain medication from the dispensary should make an appointment. Smith compared the system to that of the Genius Bar at stores owned by Apple, which help customers with their iPhones on both a walk-in and appointment basis.

"It’s just to make sure our operational processes are in place and we can serve patients well and serve them in a strong manner," said Smith.

Prospective patients must register with the state then obtain certification from a state-registered physician stating they have at least one of 17 conditions for which medical marijuana use is allowed. Once a patient has been certified by a physician, they must pay for a medical marijuana card from the state, enabling them to utilize dispensaries like Cure.

Patients can schedule an appointment on Cure’s website.

Each Cure location employs 10 full-time staff including pharmacists, managers and a patient consultant who can help patients understand the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.

Cure is currently hiring for patient consultants, said Smith.

"They’re helping patients understand the different kinds of product, they’re cashiering, checking IDs," said Smith. Customers must present a state-issued ID and their medical marijuana card before entering the dispensary, said Smith.

Cure is one of several companies approved to open dispensaries by the Department of Health, which approved Pennsylvania's first dispensary in January.Cure's first two to be approved are the seventh and eighth dispensaries to receive final approval from state regulators.

"Each of these inspections ensures that all standards set out by the regulations and their facilities are met, and the sites are safe and secure. The program continues to work to provide operational locations to help get medical marijuana to patients," said acting secretary of health and physician general Dr. Rachel Levine.

The program has trained and registered 355 physicians across the state to take part in the program and licensed 10 growers to begin distributing medical marijuana to dispensaries. To date, 16,000 patients have registered for the program.

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