News

Medical Weed Dispensary Moving To Suburbs After Local Opposition

By Max Bennett, Patch Staff

When TerraVida was unable to establish a dispensary in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill, it looked west to the suburbs for its new potential home.

CHESTNUT HILL-MT. AIRY, PHILADELPHIA – TerraVida Holistic Centers was eyeing locations in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill neighborhoods to set up a medical marijuana dispensary. When zoning issues, political opposition, and community push back forced TerraVida to look elsewhere in the area, Malvern was the focus of their search.

Philly.com reports the company is moving ahead with a dispensary in Malvern.

The location is at 249 Planebrook Road, Malvern.

TerraVida opted to ask the state’s permission to relocate to the Chester County suburb rather than fight the issues it faced in the Philadelphia neighborhoods.

Officials scrapped plans to set up in Chestnut Hill or Mt. Airy back in September.

The facility, along with TerraVida’s Abington and Sellersville locations, are set to open in 2018.

For medical marijuana patients in the suburbs, Philadelphia’s loss will be Malvern’s gain

by Sam Wood

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program will launch early next year, but Philadelphia — a city of more than 1.5 million people — is likely to host only two dispensaries.

Four storefronts initially were set to operate within the city limits when the state Department of Health awarded permits in June.

Two of the permit holders, however, ran into immediate opposition. Now one of those locations is entangled in a court battle and the other announced its intention on Friday to move to Chester County.

PharmaCann L.L.C. had designs on the site of a former ChiChi’s Mexican Restaurant adjacent to the former Franklin Mills Mall in Northeast Philadelphia. The owners of the mall, Simon Property Group, are challenging the location in court.

TerraVida Holistic Centers had planned to occupy a former bank building in East Mount Airy. Neighbors, led by Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker, challenged TerraVida’s zoning by claiming the Stenton Ave. location was too close to an unlicensed child care facility. Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars in a protracted legal battle, TerraVida asked the state for permission to relocate. By law, all dispensaries are required to be operational by New Years.

Chris Visco, TerraVida’s president, said she spent months searching for a new city location.

“There was nowhere to go,” Visco said. “We looked everywhere.”

An ordinance, sponsored by Councilwoman Parker and adopted earlier this year, forbids dispensaries within 500 feet of a day-care center.

Because of the ordinance, “(t) here’s not a single building that would meet approval in Mount Airy,” Visco said. “We looked at Chestnut Hill, but none of the properties are zoned correctly.”

Dispensaries must have a private, out-of-view access in the rear of the building. Visco said finding one is “virtually impossible” in Philadelphia. In addition, strip malls owned by out-of-state companies won’t lease to dispensaries, she said.

 

Read more HERE.

Pa.-approved medical marijuana docs: 1 is in jail, another suspended

by Sam Wood

At least two Pennsylvania doctors whom the state approved to recommend medical marijuana will not be seeing patients anytime soon.

 Mehdi Nikparvarfard, who owns six urgent-care facilities, has been held on federal charges in Philadelphia since August for allegedly threatening to kill a U.S. marshal.

Jan Neil Widerman, an osteopathic pediatrician who practices in Northeast Philadelphia, was arrested in March 2016 after firefighters allegedly discovered a pot-growing operation in his burning house.

Police seized 40 marijuana plants, paraphernalia, and about $16,400 from Widerman’s home in Holland, Bucks County. On June 18, he was found guilty on a misdemeanor drug possession charge and sentenced to 12 months’ probation. In an interview, Widerman, who is also an addiction specialist, said the marijuana was for his sick wife, who suffers from nerve pain.

Nikparvarfard and Widerman are two of about 100 doctors whom the Pennsylvania Department of Health has approved to write recommendations for medical cannabis. Doctors cannot write prescriptions because the drug continues to be prohibited by federal law.

 The state has approved 50 doctors in the five-county Philadelphia region. Only Nikparvarfard and Widerman had suspended licenses, according to state records.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that since the publication of the doctor registry, Nikparvarfard and Widerman had been removed from the registry list. “This means that they cannot certify patients and no patients have been certified by these practitioners,” said April Hutcheson.

Documents published on the website, however, remained unchanged on Tuesday and continue to include the two doctors with suspended licenses.

Nikparvarfard’s license to practice medicine was suspended on Sept. 15. On Sept. 27, the state suspended Widerman’s license for two years. Hutcheson said the doctors had applied before news of their suspensions was made public.

 

Read more HERE

Election results: Recreational cannabis legalization strong possibility in New Jersey + wins in Detroit

By John Schroyer

New Jersey is poised to legalize recreational marijuana after a pro-cannabis candidate won the state’s gubernatorial race Tuesday night, giving the MJ industry a potentially huge win in what could be a lucrative new market for businesses.

Come January, the notoriously anti-marijuana Gov. Chris Christie will be out of office and Democrat Phil Murphy will be in.

If Murphy makes good on a campaign pledge to legalize adult-use marijuana – possibly as soon as his first 100 days in office – New Jersey could become the biggest recreational market on the East Coast and easily generate hundreds of millions of dollars in retail cannabis sales annually.

Also on Tuesday, voters in Detroit approved two marijuana-related measures that could benefit both existing and future MMJ businesses.

Here’s more on the results of the 2017 November elections:

Big news in NJ

The election of a strong MJ supporter as New Jersey’s next governor is “a massive deal,” said Evan Nison, a longtime cannabis industry insider and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform committee member.

“I’ve said for a little while now that I think it’s possible that northern New Jersey could be the largest cannabis industry per capita in the world, at least while New York and Pennsylvania take their time to legalize,” Nison continued.

“Because we’re so close to Pennsylvania, because we’re so close to New York and because we’re such a densely populated state, I think it’s going to have a huge impact on the industry from a numbers standpoint.”

Murphy’s victory could be significant for another reason.

If the Democrat-controlled New Jersey Legislature can deliver a rec legalization bill to Murphy’s desk not long after he takes office in January, the state will become the first in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis via lawmakers as opposed to the ballot box.

“The governor was the only thing stopping legalization up until this point, and we’ve said since Christie was elected that we’re been waiting for him to leave,” Nison said.

The New Jersey CannaBusiness Association also celebrated Murphy’s victory.

The group’s president, Scott Rudder, said in a news release that having Murphy in office is “an opportunity to create tens of thousands of new jobs and provide a much-needed boost to our ailing economy” with “common sense cannabis laws.”

Bill in the works

The legislature already has a rec legalization bill teed up – S3195, which state Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced in May – but Nison said there likely will be further negotiations before a measure is passed by lawmakers.

“I’m not sure what the final legislation will look like,” Nison said when asked if he thinks New Jersey would take a more free-market approach with no business license caps, or if lawmakers would be more inclined to limit the number of recreational cannabis permits.

“The specific provisions are still unknown,” he added. “We have a few indications based on (S3195), but we’re still unsure.”

For instance, Scutari’s bill includes a provision calling for “at least one marijuana retail store per county,” but it’s unclear under the legislation whether all businesses that qualify will be licensed.

The bill also outlines different types of business licenses:

  • Cultivator
  • Producer (i.e. infused products maker)
  • Wholesaler
  • Retailer
  • Transporter
  • Testing lab

Nison believes the legislature will be more inclined to open up the market instead of allowing, say, only the six licensed medical cannabis producers in the state to sell adult-use marijuana.

He also cautioned that it’s not a given that New Jersey will legalize adult use, though he put solid odds on Murphy signing off on a landmark rec bill.

“I think it is 50-50 on if it’s the first 100 days. I’d say 85%-90% likely it happens this session,” Nison added.

What is certain, though, is that marijuana will be a hot topic when the New Jersey Legislature reconvenes after Murphy formally takes office.

 

Read more HERE

More Than 2,000 People Sign Up for Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program in the First Week

The Pennsylvania Department of Health says more than 2,000 people signed up for the state’s new medical marijuana program just days after launching.

A health department spokesman said that the registrations include patients and caregivers. As of 4 p.m. Friday, 2,250 patients had signed up and that registrations were coming in at a rate of three per minute.

The department announced Wednesday that it was accepting applications to participate in the system.

A 2016 state law gives people under a doctor’s care access to medical marijuana if they suffer from an illness on a list of 17 qualifying conditions.

The law permits pills, oils, vapor or liquid marijuana, but not marijuana in plant form.

Doctors must certify the illness and patients must obtain an identification card from the health department.

Qualifying conditions include AIDS, autism, cancer, chronic pain and Crohn’s disease.

Read more HERE

A list of medical marijuana docs in Philly region

by Sam Wood

This is a list of physicians in the Philadelphia region who have been approved to recommend medical marijuana as of Nov. 1 by the state Department of Health. The complete registry is expected to be updated on Nov. 8 and regularly as more doctors take the continuing education course and become registered. Two of the doctors listed will not be able to recommend cannabis because their licenses are suspended. For complete cannabis coverage to Philly.com/cannabis.

Read the full article HERE.