Brian O'Neill: Bring on medical marijuana dispensaries (with … – Philly.com


Someone is seeking a permit to open a medical marijuana dispensary around the corner from my house in the Allegheny West section of Pittsburgh, and we had neighborhood meeting about it.

Neighborhood meetings are generally your go-to place to hear worst-case scenarios no matter what the proposal. Throw in the word “marijuana” and now you’re really talking — and so is everyone else.

But the discussion turned out to be about as tame as the low- to no-buzz marijuana that soon will be dispensed in Pennsylvania to physician-vetted sufferers of cancer, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and 14 other designated “serious medical conditions.” It can be dispensed only in pill, oil, liquid, cream, solution or a vaporization form that does not include dry leaves.

That’s right, kids, there will be no joints or pot brownies available. You’ll still have to look for those on the streets the way your grandparents did.

We nonetheless didn’t want this dispensary in our neighborhood. Because this operation, which plans no off-street parking for its customers, seemed destined to suck up every last parking spot on a two-lane street.

You’d have to be high to believe such a place could open on Western Avenue and still leave parking for residents, much less the people who want to pull over to buy a slice of pizza, a plate of eggs or a sandwich, see their insurance agent or get a haircut.

That’s because high also describes the pent-up demand for medical marijuana. Yet only two “primary” dispensary licenses are to be issued in Allegheny County and its more than 1.2 million people. If even 5 percent of us have a genuine need for this treatment — and one accepted condition is as broad as “chronic or intractable pain” — more

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