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New marijuana dispensaries to open in Unity Township, Aliquippa, Johnstown next year |

New marijuana dispensaries to open in Unity Township, Aliquippa, Johnstown next year

Natasha Lindstrom
| Tuesday, December 18, 2018 6:54 p.m
FILE - In this July 12, 2018 file photo, newly transplanted cannabis cuttings grow in soilless media in pots at Sira Naturals medical marijuana cultivation facility in Milford, Mass. A Connecticut health care worker told a potential nursing home employer she had legally taken medical marijuana to deal with the effects of a car accident. But when a drug test came back positive, the job offer was rescinded. In the latest in a series of clashes between federal and state laws, a federal judge ruled in August that the nursing home violated an anti-discrimination provision of the Connecticut's medical marijuana law. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A Chicago-based company has secured a permit to open a new medical marijuana dispensary in Westmoreland County in mid-2019, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.

GTI Pennsylvania LLC — whose parent company operates 61 medical cannabis retail locations and nine grower/manufacturer facilities nationwide and employs more than 500 people — plans to open a dispensary named RISE Latrobe on Beatty Country Road, just north of Route 30 in Unity Township.

GTI also received permits Tuesday to open dispensaries in Chadds Ford, Mechanicsburg and New Castle.

The Phase II approvals are among 23 dispensary permits issued by the state this week, including a total of six new locations slated for Western Pennsylvania.

“The permitting of these locations as part of Phase II of the medical marijuana program will ensure more people have access to medical marijuana close to home,” Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement.

On Thursday, the first dispensary will open in Greensburg. The facility on East Pittsburgh Street is owned by Keystone Integrated Care of Pittsburgh but will be operated by Solevo Wellness, whose Squirrel Hill location in Pittsburgh was among the first available in the region last year.

RELATED: Greensburg medical marijuana dispensary set to open

Solevo’s Greensburg location will mark the 43rd dispensary open to patients in Pennsylvania since medical marijuana became available in February.

Among dispensaries slated to open in the region next year:

  • Sunrise Organic Wellness, Sunrise dispensary in Aliquippa, Beaver County;
  • Franklin BioScience, BEYOND / HELLO dispensary in Johnstown, Cambria County;
  • Arizona-based Harvest of Southwest PA LLC, Harvest dispensary in Johnstown, Cambria County; and
  • Arizona-based Harvest of Northwest PA LLC, Harvest dispensary on Samson Street in New Castle, Lawrence County;
  • GTI Pennsylvania’s RISE Latrobe in Unity Township and RISE New Castle in New Castle.

RELATED: 9 companies competing for medical marijuana dispensary licenses in Pittsburgh

The newly permitted dispensaries have six months to prove to state officials and inspectors they are ready to operate.

Each will be required to provide detailed plans and evidence of compliance across a range of areas, including commercial-grade security and surveillance systems; criminal background checks of principals, financial backers and employees; and procedures in place for the proper handling and storage of cannabis products.

Each location requires a non-refundable, $5,000 application fee, plus a $30,000 permit fee that will be refunded if a proposal is not granted.

Dispensaries may not be located within 1,000 feet of a public, private or parochial school or day care center, at the same site used for growing and processing marijuana or in the same office space as a doctor or practitioner.

As of Tuesday, Pennsylvania had approved 945 participating practitioners and certified more than 66,000 patients, who can obtain medical marijuana cards based on having one of 21 serious medical conditions.

RELATED: Pennsylvania to consider more conditions that should qualify for medical marijuana

Twelve of 25 state-approved grower/processors are operational.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill legalizing medical cannabis into law April 2016.

Dispensaries began selling medical marijuana in pills, oils, tinctures and ointments in February, and then in dry leaf, or flower, form on Aug. 1 . The state Department of Health regulates the program, which still prohibits patients from smoking dry leaf marijuana. It must be vaporized.

For more information, go to .

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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