The weather may have been drizzly and misty, but the sun began shinning on Center City Philadelphians in dire need of legal medical marijuana as soon as a “coming soon” sign went up Wednesday morning at 1206 Sansom Street: the location of the first downtown, Philly-based, Pennsylvania state-approved medical cannabis dispensary.
Approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and owned/operated by the Colorado-based Beyond/Hello, the spacious 1500-square-foot dispensary — set to open this fall — will offer medical cannabis products, including infused oils, tinctures, capsules, topicals, and more.
Beyond/Hello also works in partnership with Philadelphia’s Rothman Institute at Jefferson (one of North America’s largest orthopedic practices), and this is the first fruit of a collaboration geared toward investigating the benefits of medical marijuana for area patients suffering from chronic and acute pain.
"Beyond/Hello hopes to be a valued resource and a trusted provider/dispensary for any certified doctor to refer their patients to,” said Blythe Huestis, president of Beyond/Hello.
For this Arizona-transplant who just recently moved to the area, it is exciting for Huestis that Mayor Jim Kenney and Philadelphia City Council have enacted policies to help pro-pot Philadelphians with medical needs. Pennsylvania is also but one of a fleeting few states that require a licensed pharmacist at each of its dispensaries.
There are medical marijuana dispensaries that have opened throughout Pennsylvania providing cannabis patients with 17 qualifying health conditions.
Before this downtown Philly dispensary, Huestis opened three other cannabis dispensaries across the United States.
“Pennsylvania seemed as if it was set to become a strong program,” Huestis said on Wednesday morning after first publicly announcing the store's location. "We will soon find out that this is true and I am anxious to get started in Philadelphia.”
Huestis also noted the importance of the Beyond/Hello Center City dispensary as it offers convenience to those downtown dwellers who can’t get to other parts of Philly (state licenses were granted for additional dispensaries set to open in Fishtown across from the Fillmore Philadelphiia, in Northeast Philly at Krewstown Road, and in South Philly, along Packer Avenue).
Medical marijuana sales have strong support from some legislators as a possible new source of state revenue.
“Legalizing cannabis is the right thing to do for our city and the Commonwealth,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “The opening of medical cannabis dispensaries in Philadelphia will make critical treatments more accessible to patients in need. The program is also creating attractive jobs and the resulting tax revenue will fund important programs that improve our city and Commonwealth.”
State Rep. Brian Sims, (D-Phila), chimed in with, “Beyond/Hello will bring compassionate care to patients in the heart of the city. I am proud to welcome them to the city, and to have played a key role in bringing the Commonwealth’s medical cannabis program to fruition, so that patients are able access critical treatments that enhance their lives.”
It is no accident that this Beyond/Hello location is in the heart of the Gayborhood.
“Medical marijuana came out of the AIDS epidemic and Proposition 215 [in 1996, one of the earliest medical marijuana laws] out of California," said Huertis, noting the spiritual and political connection of medical cannabis to those who got the ball rolling.
"For anyone and everyone in Center City suffering and in need of medical cannabis, we’re there for you.”