What to know about the future of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania

A one-on-one with Charles Bachtell, who hopes to make the drug accessible to all Pennsylvanians who are in need.
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Medical marijuana being grown at Cresco Labs. (Courtesy of Cresco Labs)

On a sunny weekday recently, Cresco Yeltrah held a sort of coming out party at Stratus Lounge in Philly's Hotel Monaco. Name tags were encouraged and tons of key players in the medical marijuana field were out and about, all curious and some paranoid. The CEO and general manager of Keystone Shops were there to “make medical marijuana available to as many qualifying Pennsylvanians as possible, as soon as possible,” according to their website.

 

The Rabbi of Rodeph Shalom was the one who encouraged his wife, now holistic farms account manager of Liberty Cannabis, into the industry. The owner who makes FDA approved marijuana salves for animals from Palmetto Harmony had a display set up. The CEO of Manna Molecular who makes machines that produce medical patches was there with his invention. Even the CEO of Dyma Pack was there with his mini ziplock bag full of business cards.

 

The founding partner of Denver Relief Consulting also paid a visit. All the key Keystone players were out with one goal in mind to make medical marijuana accessible for patients by 2018. We caught up with the man of the medical marijuana company making it happen, Charles Bachtell, Cresco Yeltrah co-founder, who lives in Chicago and is married with one child.

 

What is Cresco labs vs. Cresco Yeltrah?

 

Cresco Labs is the parent company – a medical cannabis-focused company with production and manufacturing licenses and operations in multiple states including Illinois, Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania. Cresco Labs is a partner in Cresco Yeltrah. Cresco Yeltrah is one of the highest scoring applicants in the Pennsylvania licensing process and is one of the five companies to receive a growing/processing license and a dispensary license in the state of Pennsylvania. Cresco Yeltrah is located in the Pittsburgh area and Cresco Labs is headquartered in Chicago.

Where do you grow the marijuana?

The Cresco Yeltrah cultivation facility will be located in Brookville, PA and will be the location for growing and manufacturing the medical cannabis products that will be sold at dispensaries throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Following all of the regulatory requirements by the PA Department of Public Health, we have a full team of people that are experienced in commercial agriculture, extraction and product manufacturing. We have access to a variety of cannabis genetics that will be used as the foundation for all of the growing in Pennsylvania.

Please describe the different strains and how they affect people

Cresco Yeltrah will offer a variety of over 40 different genetic strains and will produce pharmaceutical grade blends of cannabinoid-specific and terpene-specific products including, but not limited to, profiles of THC, CBD and CBN. Some do and do not give a euphoric high.

What types of ways will patients be able to ingest the marijuana?

[Pennsylvania] does not allow smokable or edible products so the available methods of delivery are pills, oils, topical forms, including gel, creams or ointments, a form medically appropriate for administration by vaporization or nebulization, tinctures and liquid.

How would someone be approved to get prescription marijuana?

Patients who are residents of Pennsylvania and have a serious medical condition as certified by a physician will receive a registration card that will authorize them to acquire medical marijuana at approved dispensaries that are located in the state. A "caregiver" who is designated by the patient and approved by the department will be able to obtain medical marijuana from an approved dispensary located in the commonwealth that has a validly-issued permit from the department in order for the caregiver to deliver medical marijuana to the patient.

When can we expect to see this available in the Philadelphia medical community?

Cresco Yeltrah will most likely be the first to market in PA with product available shortly after the first of the year.  It’s important for patients to educate themselves now and begin the process of talking to their doctor so they can be prepared with a medical marijuana card when Cresco Yeltrah product becomes available in the dispensaries.

Do you have competitors and if so, who and why?

The State of Pennsylvania and Department of Public Health oversaw the application and licensing process. There are 12 companies licensed to grow/process medical marijuana in PA and 27 companies authorized to dispense products to patients – we’re not so much competitors as we are fellow operators in a very regulated and compliance-focused industry where everyone needs to operate successfully under a tremendous amount of scrutiny and oversight.

How can Philadelphians help bring medical marijuana to their doctors?

Patients that have one of the approved serious medical conditions should discuss medical marijuana as an option with their doctor so they can determine together whether it is the best method of treatment or pain management. We want potential patients and physicians to utilize our website and various other educational content to learn about medical marijuana and determine if medical marijuana can be an appropriate option for them.

Conditions commonly treated by medical marijuana:

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autism, cancer, Crohn's disease, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, Huntington’s Disease, inflammatory bowel disease, intractable seizures, Multiple Sclerosis, neuropathies, Parkinson’s Disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain in which conventional therapeutic intervention and opiate therapy is contraindicated or ineffective and sickle cell anemia.

 
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