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Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Already Have Shortages

Due to high demand, Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries are starting to run dry.

A.J. Herrington

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Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Already Have Shortages

Pennsylvania medical marijuana dispensaries already have shortages, just over two weeks after the beginning of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Pennsylvania’s medicinal cannabis program launched on February 16. But so far only one distributor, Cresco Yeltrah, has actually started shipping medicine. The remaining wholesalers should start coming online by the end of the month.

Empty Shelves

The shelves are bare at the two dispensaries in the Philadelphia area. Chris Visco co-owns the TerraVida Holistic Center in Sellersville. He told local media that his shop is selling product almost as fast as they can get it.

“We have no inventory. We took a shipment on Wednesday. On Thursday, we had the biggest sales day we’ve ever had. By this morning, all we had left were a handful of disposable vape pens,” he said.

Visco added that the preliminary results are beyond his wildest expectations.

“Pennsylvania’s market is much larger than anybody anticipated,” Visco said. “No one could have projected it. I had projected 60 people initially for the entire month,” Visco said. “We had over 600 patients in our first eight days.”

Management of the Keystone Shop in Devon decided to close up shop until they receive more merchandise.

“We’re looking at resuming sales the third week in March,” said Skip Shuda, Keystone Shop’s chief operating officer. “It’s frustrating for us, and it’s frustrating for a lot of patients who were looking for medicine.”

Limiting Sales

Other shops are taking different measures to deal with the shortage. Victor Guadagnino owns Keystone Canna Remedies in Bethlehem.

He implemented a cap on purchases so he would be able to serve more customers. Patients can purchase only two vape cartridges each.

When the product runs out, the dispensary will remain open to provide patient consultations. Guadagnino expects the industry’s problems to be short-lived.

“We’re going through some growing pains,” he said. “But as other providers come online, I don’t think we’ll see this issue again.”

Low Supply Means High Prices

Product shortages and high taxes on cannabis translate into higher prices for consumers. Cannabis activist Mike Whiter told the Philadelphia Inquirer that patients are paying too much.

“Those prices are ridiculous,” said marijuana activist Mike Whiter. “The dispensaries have a near monopoly on this medicine and it bothers the hell out of me to see what they’re charging.”

However, Shuda of Keystone Shop predicts that prices will stabilize soon.

“It’s an early market, and we have a single supplier, and we’ll need to calibrate over time,” he said. “Real estate is expensive on the Main Line and we have to make sure our expenses are covered.”

Final Hit: Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Already Have Shortages

Nearly 20,000 patients have registered with the state medical marijuana program. Of those, more than 5,000 have already received a doctor’s certification. The state has authorized close to 400 physicians to recommend cannabis to their patients.

Eventually, 51 dispensaries will serve Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana patients.  The state has licensed 12 firms to cultivate and process cannabis products will serve them.

Therefore, April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Health, suggested patients plan ahead.

“We encourage patients to call the dispensaries to find out if they have what they need and to set up a consultation,” she said.

A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based writer and photographer covering cannabis and the environment.

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