Harrisburg dispensary prepares for opening

Ioannis Pashakis//July 2, 2019

Harrisburg dispensary prepares for opening

Ioannis Pashakis//July 2, 2019

Harvest medical marijuana dispensary is awaiting inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Health before it can open its first dispensary in Harrisburg. PHOTO/IOANNIS PASHAKIS

A medical marijuana dispensary planning to open in Harrisburg this year will be looking at how it can contribute to its community as it moves into one of the city’s historic fire stations.

Phoenix, Arizona-based Harvest expects to open its third Pennsylvania dispensary upon final approval by the state this year.

One of two Harrisburg dispensaries expected to open in the coming months, Harvest plans to reach out to local charities in an effort to be a part of the community it’s located in.

“Harvest makes sure that wherever we operate, we are making sure that we get to know that community, what their needs are and how we can be a productive part in that,” said Ben Kimbro, director of public affairs for Harvest.

Harvest joined the Pennsylvania medical marijuana market at the end of last year after opening a dispensary in Reading as a part of the first wave of dispensaries approved to operate in the state.  The company was also approved in the state’s second wave of dispensaries, which allows companies to open six storefronts.

So far the company has announced new dispensaries in Harrisburg and King of Prussia. Harvest expects to hire between 15 and 25 employees at each location.

Across 30 dispensaries in 9 states, Harvest has donated $500,000 to local charitable organizations. Harvest is already speaking with 45 local and regional Pennsylvania nonprofit organizations to donate to on behalf of its three stores in the state, according to Kimbro.

Harvest will be looking for guidance from its employees on what sort of community programs the dispensary should work with.

“Since we hire from the local community, we really rely on our associates in the store as well as our patients to really guide us community engagement and betterment,” Kimbro said.

The Harrisburg dispensary is located at the more than 100-year-old Camp Curtin Fire Station on 2504 N. 6th St. The fire station was placed on the Historic Harrisburg Association’s Preservation Priority List after its longtime tenant, Camp Curtin Barbeque, closed operations earlier this year.

The list accounts for historic buildings in the city in need of repair.

Repairs of the building by Harvest included preserving the fire station’s bell tower, which allowed for the association to take the building off of the list. David Morrison, executive director of the association, said the dispensary buying the building was a great outcome for the historic fire house and the community.

“It’s a business that will have longevity, restaurants come and go,” Morrison said. “There is an economic factor that is significant and that is good for the city and the neighborhood.”

A second dispensary, Local Dispensaries LLC, also plans to open at 137 S. 17th St. in Harrisburg. Both dispensaries are awaiting final inspections by the state Department of Health before they can begin serving Pennsylvanian’s permitted to use medical marijuana.