medical marijuana

The waiting room at Nature's Medicines in State College
Tyler Olson / WPSU

As medical marijuana dispensaries continue to open up across Pennsylvania, many first-time patients still don’t know what to expect from the process, and are anxious as they go through it.

“I was a little nervous because I just don’t know how it’ll work,” said Stephanie Darpino after purchasing medical marijuana for the first time at Nature’s Medicines in State College. “But everyone was so nice and it wasn’t … I don’t know like it’s a 'drug' kind of thing. Which I wasn’t sure if that’s how it would feel, but it didn’t feel like that at all.”

photo: Kristine Allen, WPSU

A medical marijuana dispensary opened in State College Thursday. And it’s already doing a brisk business.

Angel Rodriguez is co-manager of Nature’s Medicines on North Atherton Street in State College. He says when the dispensary opened at 11:00am Thursday, there were scores of people already in line.

“We’ve had over a hundred and something people walk through our doors,” Rodriguez said, “asking questions, coming into to see what we are, what we represent, and picking up medication so it’s been a very good day for us.”

medical marijuana clinic
Anne Danahy / WPSU

Bradford is a historic town on the northern Pennsylvania border. An empty storefront will soon be one of the state’s medical marijuana clinics.

“It’s right in the heart of our downtown on Main Street,” said Tom Riel, mayor of Bradford. He was standing in front of the future clinic, surrounded by shops and apartments in an old-fashioned downtown.  To Riel, the clinic will be the same as a new pharmacy opening up.

me
Cresco Yeltrah

Diana Briggs gives her son, Ryan, a very small dose of medical marijuana every night — carefully putting a coconut oil in his feeding tube.

“All right Ryan, it’s time for your special medicine.”

Ryan suffered from a lack of oxygen at birth that injured his brain. It left him with many challenges, including seizures — some days in the hundreds.

“My son had never slept. I can look back at Facebook posts from years ago where I was praying and begging people to pray that Ryan would sleep. He was seizing 72 hours straight with no break,” Diana Briggs said.

Medical marijuana
Cresco Yeltrah

Medical marijuana has been legalized in Pennsylvania. With the changes come new rules and regulations. 

Pennsylvania Safe Access held an information session in the State College Borough Building Thursday evening. Organization founder Christy Billett was there to answer questions.

“Really, it’s just about talking about it. Letting people realize the face to the patient, and that maybe cannabis is better than some of the pharmaceuticals that they’re taking,” Billett said.

Medical marijuana and how it’s being implemented in Pennsylvania was the focus of the main morning session Tuesday during the annual conference of Pennsylvania planners. 

There are many unsettled questions surrounding the new arena of legal medical pot in Pennsylvania.

Who reviewed the medical marijuana applications. What will happen to growers who aren’t up and running in six months. And will businesses be able to get financial backing from banks.

About 600 planners from across the state are expected in State College for the 2017 conference of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Planning Association. Hot topics will include medical marijuana, transportation planning and protecting water quality.

Ed LeClear, planning director for State College, is one of those involved in getting ready for the conference.

“The focus for this conference, I think, is really adaptability and innovation. We’re dealing with everything from climate change to fiscal distress in many of our communities, and how do we adapt to that.”