O Medicinal Town Of Bethlehem

December is a month when many people around the world take time to celebrate a birth from 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, Israel. But the following month of January can now be remembered as the month in 2018 when a different kind of birth happened in another Bethlehem that sits in a different country on the other side of the world.

Pennsylvania first legalized medical cannabis on April 17, 2016, when Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill 3 (SB3); a measure that instructed the Department of Health to construct and implement the state’s Medical Marijuana Program which is now close to being ready to start serving patients.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zampogna

Tom Wolf Signs Medical Cannabis Bill

On Wednesday, January 17, almost two years after Governor Wolf put his name on SB 3, Keystone Canna Remedies in the Lehigh Valley area opened its doors for a first peek at Pennsylvania’s premier medical cannabis dispensary.

In the city of Bethlehem, members of the business community along with state, regional, and local officials joined owners and staff for a grand soft-opening at the freshly-renovated facility located on the 1300 block of Stefko Boulevard.

While a small selection of samples of various cannabis oils and vape cartridges were on-hand for the opening on Wednesday, the dispensary shelves were barren of any medicinal cannabis products.

According to Canna Remedies Chief Business Development Officer and co-founder Victor Guadagnino; “What we’re kicking off is a series of educational workshops that start next week. Product or medicine will not be ready until mid-February.”

Victor Guadagnino

But when patients are finally able to procure medicinal cannabis from the dispensary, it will only be sold in pill, topical, tincture, oil, or vaporizable liquid forms in accordance with state law which does not allow for the sale of edibles or marijuana flower.

Pennsylvania law currently lists seventeen medical conditions that qualify patients to use medicinal cannabis including autism, cancer, epilepsy, intractable seizures, Parkinson’s disease, PTSD, HIV, and glaucoma.

Of the more than 10,000 applications that have been submitted by patients looking to acquire a medicinal marijuana license in Pennsylvania, there are currently around 1,200 that have been approved by licensed physicians.

During a presentation at the facility’s opening, Physician General Dr. Rachel Levine spoke about those who would soon gain access to medicinal cannabis.

“In just a very short time,” she said, “in just a few months these patients will be able to come to an excellent dispensary such as right here to safely purchase medical marijuana that has been tested and that will be safe and effective.”

In a press release, Guadagnino stated, “Our professional and personal experiences in patient care, particularly in treating patients experiencing serious medical issues, and our profound commitment to improving their quality of life form the foundation of Keystone Canna Remedies.”

“Our on-site cannabis expert and pharmacist,” he continued, “combined with our patient care model of personal and comprehensive consultations, and, premium product selections from state-regulated sources will transform the lives of patients currently suffering, and in some cases, experiencing significant hardship.”

Following the dispensary’s full opening next month, Keystone Canna Remedies plans to open another location elsewhere in the state sometime later this year.