Side Effects: Nearly a year in, Pennsylvania's medical marijuana law still has issues to work out – Pittsburgh Current

By Alyse Horn-Pyatt
Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer
[email protected]

Tucked into Penn Avenue in the Strip District, across from Roxanne’s Dried Flowers, sits another kind of dried flower shop: the CY+ Dispensary.

Owned by Cresco Labs, the medical cannabis retail store opened in June 2018 and several months later they established the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Education Center next door.

Cresco Yeltrah’s dispensary in Butler, the name Chicago-based Cresco Labs operates under in Pennsylvania, was the first to sell medical cannabis in PA in February 2018. Since then,more than 134,000 patients have registered with the program and more than 2.3 million products have been sold.

“Realizing 100,000 patient certifications and seeing the first Phase II grower and processor operationalized is a testament to the hard work of the Department of Health, the many advocates for this program, and our General Assembly who passed this legislation nearly three years ago,” Governor Tom Wolf said in an April press release. “It’s progress that is making a difference in the lives of many Pennsylvanians.”

Dr. Lauren Vrabel, director of patient care at CY+ Dispensary in the Strip District, says she became a pharmacist to help people with their medical conditions, but didn’t think big pharmaceutical companies were “doing the best job of that.”

“For the first time I’ve been able to genuinely help patients and see their progress and quality of life improve,” Vrabel says.

Currently there are 21 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana, including severe chronic pain, HIV/AIDS, and epilepsy, and under the recommendation of Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board anxiety and Tourette syndrome may be added to the list. Nate Wardle, press secretary for the Department of Health, says these two conditions are still under review.

Theresa Nightingale, patient acquisition specialist for the PA Medical Marijuana Education Center and local cannabis activist, says in

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