In Butler, a Medical Marijuana Dispensary Shows Off its Fortress-like Building

Cresco Yeltrah’s CY+ Dispensary

In two weeks, Cresco Yeltrah’s CY+ dispensary expects to transact the first legal medical marijuana purchase in Western Pennsylvania from a gray, fortress-like one-story building near the city of Butler’s baseball field. That same week, Solevo Wellness plans to open its dispensary in Squirrel Hill.

Pennsylvania’s budding medical marijuana program has arrived.

The Butler facility is planning a grand opening event Saturday afternoon, and visitors may be surprised by what they find.

“It’s a bunker,” joked Trent Hartley, one of Cresco Yeltrah’s co-founders, while giving a brief tour Wednesday.

Once inside, though, customers with state-approved cards will step into a pleasant reception area painted blue and equipped with iPads where they can research information on more than 100 different medical marijuana products.

In the adjacent consultation and pharmacy areas, patient care representatives will guide them through the process before selecting and buying their medical marijuana and leaving. The marijuana products will be housed in a secure room in the back.

Deciding on which medical marijuana product to use is highly personalized. For example, people with a seizure disorder might benefit from a tincture because it’s noninvasive and quickly absorbed, while a pill might be better for someone with chronic pain because of the longer lasting effect.

Mr. Hartley said patients, who are required to be certified by a physician that they have at least one of 17 designated medical conditions, may pay $100 to $150 per month for the product.

The expectation was that the medical marijuana program would open for business later this spring, offering a variety of cannabis-based lotions, pills, tinctures and oils for patients’ pain, seizure disorder or other ailments.

Cresco Yeltrah, which holds permits to both grow and dispense medical marijuana, has jump-started that opening date by about two months.

“We set out to be first in run so we could provide relief to the patients,” said Mr. Hartley, whose own now-adult children have conditions that would qualify them for medical marijuana. The operation will be opening a second dispensary in three to four weeks in the Strip District, and a third in a still-to-be-determined location.

Cresco Yeltrah is a joint venture of Chicago-based medical cannabis cultivator Cresco Labs LLC and the Hartley family — longtime Butler County business leaders who also own Standard Bent Glass, which makes custom flat and curved glass. (The company’s Yeltrah name is Hartley spelled backward.)

The group is one of the few to hold two permits — one for the dispensaries and the other for a grower-processor facility in Brookville, Jefferson County.

While the operations represent “two completely different projects,” Mr. Hartley said overseeing every step of the process has its benefits, from quality control, to deciding which strains will work best to production timetables.

The Brookville facility is growing 30 different strains, and the first seeds were planted there Oct. 15. At present, the first deliveries are scheduled for Feb. 15, both in Butler and other dispensaries throughout the state.

Rather than competing, Mr. Hartley said the early spirit of cooperation among the other state medical marijuana permit holders continues.

He also praised how the state has planned and executed its medical marijuana program, in sharp contrast to the experience at neighboring programs in Maryland and New York. Those were held up or slow to develop due to problems such as lawsuits or low physician participation.

“There’s an excitement in Pennsylvania that I have not seen in other states.”

Source: Steve Twedt, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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