By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
In the weeks following Pennsylvania’s medicinal cannabis dispensary grand openings, product shortages have been affecting how, and how often the businesses operate.
After some soft-grand openings in early 2018, the Keystone State’s initial wave of medical marijuana outlets began opening their doors on February 5 to start serving Pennsylvania’s first few thousand registered patients.
But only weeks after beginning sales, dispensary shelves are now looking as empty as they did before the shops were open.
Solevo Wellness opened for business on February 16 at their location on Forward Avenue in Squirrel Hill. But due to lack of sufficient product for the number of patients, they began reducing their hours of operation only two days later.
They announced on their website that they were working with their cultivator and processor to get a shipment by early the next week.
But after modifying hours and working only with scheduled appointments, Solevo posted to their Facebook on March 3 that they were entirely out of medical cannabis products. For now, the dispensary will be open Wednesday through Friday 10am-6pm, but no products will be available.
On Thursday, Solevo will hold an open meet & greet and Q&A session with refreshments from 4pm-7pm to answer any patient questions. Medical marijuana ID cards are not required for attendance.
After experiencing higher-than-expected patient demand in the first weeks of operation, TerraVida Holistic Centers posted to their Facebook page on March 3; “We regret to inform you that we are completely out of product. We will remain open from 10-6 today and Monday – Saturday next week for those who have a card to receive a consultation and pre-order medicine for mid-March delivery.”
“Closed in Devon until further notice,” reads the Keystone Shops website home page. The location opened on February 16 but their inventory is currently depleted, and they are not currently open for business.
According to the Keystone website, they are hoping to reopen with limited hours until more products can arrive around the middle of March.
Currently, Cresco Yeltrah is the only one out of the twelve licensed wholesalers in the state that is distributing products to dispensaries. Combined with higher-than-anticipated patient interest, the lack of available medicinal cannabis items is a hurdle that some saw coming.
While other dispensaries are dealing with product shortages, Cure Pennsylvania will be opening a facility in Manheim Township this week for appointments starting Wednesday. The location will begin accepting walk-in patients on Friday.
In an email to Lancaster Online, director of operations Ryan Smith explained that they expected the current situation to unfold the way that it is.
“We anticipated this shortage of medicine several months ago,” wrote Smith. “That is why we decided to hold off opening until next week rather than opening in mid-February.”
Pennsylvania law does not allow home cultivation or permit medicinal cannabis products from outside the state to be brought in and sold at dispensaries. So until in-state suppliers have more cannabis oil ready, patients will have to wait to replenish their supply.
But the current situation isn’t anticipated to last long. Medical cannabis is expected to make its way back to dispensary shelves in the coming weeks, and eight more suppliers are scheduled to be in full distribution mode by the end of April.
There are over 21,000 patients that have registered for the state medical marijuana program, and around 6,000 of those have been approved. There are more than four-hundred doctors that are licensed to certify patients for medicinal cannabis and almost as many have registered to take the certification course.
When the first phase of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program is fully implemented, there will be a total of twelve cultivator-processors supplying products to up to fifty-one dispensaries statewide.