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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Medical Marijuana dispensary open on City Avenue

Ryan Smith, Chief Operating Officer of Cure, outside the City Avenue dispensary. PHOTO: MEGAN BEVILACQUA ’19 / THE HAWK

Community responds to legalizing cannabis

A medical marijuana dispensary owned by Denver-based cannabis chain Cure opened Nov. 2 on City Avenue.

This will be Cure’s third dispensary in Pennsylvania and the 18th medical marijuana dispensary open in Philadelphia.

According to the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act, the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board will be allowed to issue permits to a maximum of 50 medical marijuana dispensaries. Each dispensary may expand to three locations.

According to the Chief Operating Officer of the Cure dispensary, Ryan Smith, the goal of Cure is to provide service in line with the company’s objective of offering cannabis as a health management option.

“Everything from neuropathy to severe pain to opioid abuse therapy, ALS, autism, an incredible number of qualifying conditions in Pa., and we’re here to help support that patient base find their medicine,” Smith said. “Think of us like a pharmacy, except we specialize in one form of medicine, and that’s really what it is.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Health manages and implements the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program. Individuals diagnosed with any of the 21 accepted conditions have the right to access, use and become a patient of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.

Madison Cassel ’20 is a patient in the program, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016.

Cassel was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease targeting the digestive system and causing inflammation and painful ulcers, eight years ago.

“Medical marijuana offers something that is more holistic and less harsh on my body because I have just been pouring chemicals into it for years now,” Cassel said. “For me, I have chronic pain and this [medical marijuana] is something that offers me just some ounce of relief.”

For Cassel, advocacy and education about medical marijuana is important.

“It is not something that I intentionally broadcast because there is still that stigma that is carried around with marijuana,” Cassel said. “But I have seen more acceptance nationally; I am kind of proud to be in this circle of people, being one of these patients, because of the effects it’s having on people.”

The Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act also legalized the implementation of partnerships between medical schools and marijuana growers. Eight medical schools in Pennsylvania have been approved to conduct research. Five of those eight medical schools have a campus in Philadelphia including The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), whose Philadelphia campus resides along City Avenue. Despite the regulations and safety protocols dispensaries have in place, some medical professionals believe there is not enough evidence to definitely prove the effectiveness of medical marijuana.

“Anything new can be scary to people and I think oftentimes when something’s new, people may be ignorant about what it is, what’s being done and how it’s being done,” Smith said.

In October, leaflets were distributed on Church Road calling for an “urgent community meeting.” Each handout was signed by Steve Jones, ward leader for the 52 Ward.

According to the handout “even one marijuana dispensary is one too many.”

When contacted by The Hawk for additional comments, Jones was not available.

Many of Jones’ leaflets have reached St. Joe’s students, particularly those living close to the dispensary, like Britton Gagliardi ’19, who lives on Church Road.

“I’m rather indifferent about it since I’m a senior and I’m moving out in a couple months,” Gagliardi said. “However, as long as the dispensary is in accordance with all legal ramifications and children are not exposed to it, I suppose it is okay.”

St. Joe’s students who live near the Cure Dispensary, located at 4502 City Ave., are not concerned about the establishment’s opening.

Michaela Urbach ’20, who lives on Church Road, said she was unaware the dispensary had opened until she received flyers about it.

“I honestly don’t care either way,” Urbach said. “And I don’t think it’s having a major impact on the community.”


Megan Bevilacqua ’19 contributed to this story.

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