Medical marijuana dispensary holds ribbon-cutting ceremony

Karen Mansfield
Observer Reporter

Washington County’s first medical marijuana dispensary, which opens its doors to patients Thursday, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.

Local officials, employees and patients joined the Healing Center co-founders Chris Kohan and Jay Richards for the event and a tour of the dispensary at 799 W. Chestnut St., Washington.

Kohan said the dispensary will make a difference for people in Southwestern Pennsylvania who suffer from chronic and acute illnesses, and opioid addiction.

“We are so excited to be here today,” said Kohan. “It’s a perfect place to be. Washington, Pa., is right in the heart of the county and right in the city. It’s been a particularly hard-hit area by the opioid crisis, so we feel we can be very helpful in curbing that. We’ll be treating an awful lot of people who have problems with opioids.”

Washington police Chief Robert Wilson welcomed the dispensary.

“I’ve had the honor of meeting a lot of people that have shown me there is medicinal use for medical marijuana, and if we can help them out, I’m all for it,” said Wilson. “But I’ll be the first one to admit that in 1987 when I first got hired here, if you’d have told me during my career I’d be standing here opening up a medical marijuana facility, my response would have been, ‘What are you smoking? It’s not going to happen.’”

Among those who attended the ceremony was medical marijuana patient Daniel Lemon of Muse, who received his ID card in April.

Lemon, 45, who said he became addicted to opioids following a car accident more than five years ago, is under a physician’s care for chronic pain. Clean for three years now, Lemon said his physician recommended he apply for a patient registration card.

“It has brought me so much relief,” said Lemon. “It has helped me so much. I’m excited for it to be in this town. This is going to be a good thing.”

In addition to dispensing medical marijuana, the Healing Center will offer holistic services like yoga and massage therapy to clients.

The medical marijuana program, signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in April 2016, offers medical marijuana to Pennsylvania residents under a physician’s care for the treatment of one of 21 medical conditions, including cancer, autism, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis, severe seizure disorders and terminal illness.

The Healing Center is set to open a site in Monroeville in a few months, and a third location in Cranberry, Butler County.

The Washington dispensary will employ between 20 to 25 people.