In agreement with state, cannabis company gives up dispensary permits

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//August 19, 2019

In agreement with state, cannabis company gives up dispensary permits

Dawn Ouellette Nixon//August 19, 2019

A cannabis company has signed an agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Health that will stop the opening of two marijuana dispensaries in the state, according to an August 16 news release.

Harvest dispensary in Reading – submitted

Harvest of Northwest PA in New Castle and Harvest of North Central PA in Shamokin, have voluntarily given up their medical marijuana dispensary permits. The permits were relinquished on Aug. 15 in order to allow the dispensaries’ parent company, Tempe, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation,  to move forward with the opening of four other Harvest dispensaries around Pennsylvania, as state requirements do not allow one entity to operate more than five dispensaries.

The other planned dispensaries are to be located in Johnstown, Harrisburg, Scranton and Reading.

The department initially granted dispensary permits to six distinct Harvest entities on December 18, 2018.

However, the fact that each used some form of the Harvest name, coupled with public statements made by the affiliate company, Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., gave the appearance that one single entity would hold five permits, which goes against the state’s regulation that no more than 5 permits can be issued to one person.

Additionally, the department learned that the Harvest entities had utilized construction contractors not identified in the permit applications without notifying the department, which is a requirement.

“Our medical marijuana program has been successful in its focus to provide evidence-based, quality options for patients suffering from serious medical conditions,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of health for the state. “In order to ensure that this program is successful, we have a statute and regulations in place for those companies looking to hold permits as either grower/processors or dispensaries. Companies interested in being part of this program must be aware of the law and abide by it.”

In a statement released on August 16, Harvest Health & Recreation said that despite the challenges of this new industry, they are committed to working closely with state regulators.

“…we are confident that our focus on compliance and strong partnerships with regulators is a key reason we’ve been awarded more licenses than any other cannabis company in the U.S.; a demonstration of the strength of our businesses,” the statement reads.

18 Harvest dispensary employees will be affected by the decision not to open in Shamokin and New Castle. The employees are being provided with severance and company-paid services to help them secure other employment.

The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Gov.Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. There are close to 121,000 active patients in the program, with more than 1,650 physicians registered to prescribe.

Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc. is a multi-state cannabis operator with 135 retail locations and more than 1,700 employees across 18 states.