Keystone Canna Remedies, 1309 Stefko Blvd., Bethlehem, is among 16 dispensaries permitted to sell the medication beginning today.
The next rollout will be Aug. 8 and includes Mission Pennsylvania II, 2733 Emmaus Ave., Allentown, and TerraVida Holistic Centers, 64 N. Main St., Sellersville.
In addition, DocHouse LLC, 317-325 Pottsville St., Pottsville, was issued one of 13 permits for a grower/processor plant, the second phase of the medical marijuana program.
The dry leaf form will be available only for vaporization. State law prohibits dry leaf or flowers of marijuana from being smoked or consumed in edibles.
Until now, dispensaries could only sell marijuana in processed forms such as oils, creams, capsules and other topicals, and products for vaporization and nebulization.
“We think it’s a good thing for patients,” Victor Guadagnino, chief business development officer at Keystone Canna Remedies, said of the dry leaf medical marijuana.
“It’s another option for vaporization, it gives patients another choice how to medicate and it’s more affordable,” Guadagnino said.
“It will be a better price than other products because it’s cheaper to produce and there’s less processing. There’s a higher yield per crop and lets us pass along the savings to the patient.”
Unlike other forms, dry leaf marijuana contains the full chemical profile of the plant known as the entourage effect, which is when the molecules cannabinoid and terpene remain together in their natural form and work synergistically, Guadagnino said.
Processed medical marijuana reproduces that effect, he said.
Keystone Canna Remedies opened in January, making it the first among the 29 permitted companies to open a dispensary in the state.
The medical marijuana program was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016.
Since then, more than 52,000 patients have registered to participate in Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, and more than 30,000 have received identification cards enabling them to visit dispensaries to buy medical marijuana.
More than 1,000 physicians have registered for the program and more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.