Medical marijuana patients in the City of Brotherly Love officially got legal access to their medicine locally for the first time on Wednesday, with the opening of the Restore Integrative Wellness dispensary in Philadelphia.
Nearly two years to the day since Pennsylvania implemented its medical marijuana law in May 2016, the state’s largest city will now have legal marijuana dispensaries. One of America’s great cities will now see patients get their medicine just two miles from Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were debated by the Founding Fathers and their peers from across the 13 colonies.
Restore Integrative Wellness gave Cannabis Now an exclusive interview on how things went on the first day of legal sales in Philadelphia.
“As far as today, we’re totally excited,” Chief Operating Officer and Co-owner Vip Patel told Cannabis Now in a phone interview from the busy shop. “The patients are totally psyched, we had a line waiting to get in 45 minutes before we opened. I had the chance to go outside and talk to every one of them and they were all so psyched to have us here. The funny thing was, we were just thankful to be here and open, then everyone was thanking us on their way out.”
Restore Integrative Wellness had a full staff for launch day and was expecting the crowds. Sixteen technicians helped patients identify the medicine options that would likely be the most appropriate for whatever condition they were hoping to treat. From there, it was on to a team of three pharmacists to fulfill the orders.
In a city like Philadelphia that’s seen a lot of history over the years, Patel was thrilled his dispensary would get to claim its little piece of it as the first dispensary.
As firm believers in Murphy’s Law, Patel said his team got a solid laugh when the city deciding to start a water main project — six months after its projected start date — outside their location, blocking the whole street on the morning of the dispensary opening.
“If something didn’t go wrong, I would have felt like something was not right here,” Patel said with a laugh. “I went out and there and talked to the water company guys and they were all laughing. They said, ‘Give me some pot and we’ll move right now.’ I said, ‘I can’t do that man, but please move as quick as you can.’”
The folks at the National Cannabis Industry Association were glad to see the efforts of Philadelphia locals pay off after years of trying.
“After all the hard work and pain that patients and advocates in Philadelphia have endured trying to bring safe, reliable medical cannabis access to their city, we are finally seeing the first steps to make sure no patient in the area ever has to endanger themselves by obtaining cannabis from the illicit market,” NCIA Media Relations Director Morgan Fox told Cannabis Now. “Instead, they will now be able to get tested, quality-controlled medicine from regulated businesses. We hope to see access continue to expand as the program develops.”
The Marijuana Policy Project echoed NCIA’s sentiments, while reiterating the historical nature of the day.
“Philadelphia is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., so this is not only a big milestone for Pennsylvania, but for the entire country,” said Marijuana Policy Project Spokesperson Mason Tvert. “There are a lot of residents that could benefit from medical marijuana, and they will finally have the ability to access it safely and legally if their doctors recommend it.”
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