Pennsylvania’s Department of Health awarded 27 medical marijuana dispensary licenses in all, but just three in Philadelphia.
(This article has been modified from its original version to update time references and for factual clarity.)
By William Kenny and Logan Krum
Northeast Philadelphia may stand to have the highest concentration of medical marijuana shops in Pennsylvania after the state Department of Health on June 29 awarded more than two dozen dispensary licenses to applicants across the Commonwealth.
Among the 27 successful applicants statewide, two plan to do business primarily in Northeast Philly, while a third will set up shop in Fishtown.
Haverford Township-based Holistic Pharma LLC won a license for 8900 Krewstown Road in Bustleton, while an Oak Park, Ill., firm — PharmaCann Penn LLC — won a license for 599 Franklin Mills Circle in Parkwood. Elkins Park-based Restore Integrative Wellness Center LLC won a license to operate at 957–63 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown.
Although state law requires licensees to open for business within a specific time frame, it remains unclear when or if they will each open secondary dispensary sites as permitted under the law.
For example, the Krewstown Road licensee declared secondary dispensary sites in Bensalem and West Norriton on its successful application. The Franklin Mills licensee also applied for two secondary dispensaries, but those locations were redacted from an edited version of the company’s application released publicly by the health department. The Fishtown licensee listed one secondary dispensary location in Elkins Park.
They were the only three successful applicants with primary dispensaries within Philadelphia, but the health department also approved primary dispensaries in Abington Township, Montgomery County, and Bristol Township, Bucks County. The operator of the Abington site, TerraVida Holistic Centers LLC, listed a fourth Philadelphia location as a secondary dispensary. It’s at 8319–25 Stenton Ave. in Mount Airy.
Only one other municipality in the state, Pittsburgh, had as many as two primary dispensary licenses awarded. No other county in Pennsylvania had more than one primary license awarded.
The June 29 announcement came nine days after the health department awarded 12 marijuana grow licenses statewide, none of which were for Philadelphia or its suburbs.
State officials previously said they received more than 500 applications from companies seeking to grow or sell medical marijuana. The application process began in February and lasted a month in accordance with the Medical Marijuana Act passed by the state legislature last year. Federal law still prohibits the production or sale of marijuana products, even for medical purposes.
Thirty-one companies applied for grow licenses in the Southeastern part of the state, while 61 applied for dispensary licenses. The state awarded two grow licenses — both in the Reading area — and 10 dispensary licenses in that eight-county region.
The state rejected at least one grow application involving a Northeast Philly location. A company founded by the children of Ed Snider, the late Flyers hockey team founder and chairman, applied to build a 125,000-square-foot marijuana greenhouse on a 14-acre industrial parcel on McNulty Road in Parkwood.
Community leaders in Bustleton and Parkwood were surprised to learn their neighborhoods had been selected for dispensary locations.
The Bustleton site is a 3,000-square-foot former convenience store at Krewstown Road and Bloomfield Avenue. The store adjoins a beer distributor. In February, a principal for Holistic Pharma, Keith Morgan, contacted Greater Bustleton Civic League President Jack O’Hara to inform him he wanted to open a dispensary in the neighborhood. Morgan subsequently met multiple times with GBCL board members. But both parties agreed not to have Morgan address neighbors at a public meeting, according to O’Hara. The civic leader wanted more time to research the laws governing medical marijuana, while Morgan was unwilling to disclose the specific location of his company’s proposed dispensary.
Reached by telephone at the time, Morgan told the Northeast Times that Holistic Pharma was considering several potential dispensary sites in the city. He also said the unspecified Bustleton site was already zoned properly for a marijuana dispensary use.
According to O’Hara, Morgan later advised him that Holistic Pharma probably wouldn’t apply for a Bustleton location after all. So the civic leader was surprised by today’s announcement. O’Hara said Morgan called him after the licenses were awarded and assured him that Holistic Pharma would not open in Bustleton without the community’s support.
Meanwhile, Parkwood Civic Association President Matt Darragh said he had no idea anyone had applied for a dispensary license in his neighborhood. Ed Snider’s daughter Lindy addressed the Parkwood group twice in February and March to address questions about her family’s proposed grow facility there.
“Unlike the Sniders, I never heard from representatives from (PharmaCann Penn),” Darragh said. “I’m going to be doing my research and trying to get their contact information so we can get someone in front of the civic association to answer questions.”
The Franklin Mills Circle location is an undeveloped commercial property in the Philadelphia Mills mall complex. It’s next to an Arby’s and across a parking lot from Big Lots. Although the mall area is not within the civic association’s stated geographic boundaries, neighbors will be wary of the dispensary’s potential impact on recent public disturbances there.
“I don’t think this is going to allay concerns the community has already with disorderly conduct up there,” Darragh said.
The Frankford Avenue location in Fishtown is directly across the street from The Fillmore concert venue and less than 500 feet from the entrance to the SugarHouse casino. The Abington location is at 1626 Old York Road, about five miles driving distance from the Krewstown dispensary location. The Bristol location is at 2412–14 Durham Road, about six miles driving distance from the Franklin Mills location.
Also, the state approved primary dispensary licenses for 420 Plymouth Road in Plymouth Meeting, as well as 130 S. State Road in Upper Darby. Additional “Southeast” region licenses were approved in Lancaster city, as well as two sites in Chester and Berks counties. The specific Chester and Berks locations were redacted from the applications that the health department released publicly. ••
William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.
Links to the three successful medical marijuana dispensary applications within Philadelphia. Sensitive information has been redacted from the applications by the applicants and the Department of Health:
Links to redacted versions of all of the successful dispensary applications are posted on the Department of Health website here.