A medical marijuana dispensary planned in Aliquippa has delayed its opening again and is now predicting a late February or March kickoff.
Holistic Industries initially predicted its dispensary at 2320 Sheffield Road would open last summer, then adjusted the date to next month. But representatives at a recent city council meeting told officials they’re now shooting for a late February/early March opening.
Josh Genderson, Holistic founder and chief executive officer, previously told BeaverCountian.com that plans became unrealistic as property acquisition time, environmental concerns and permitting were taken into account.
Dispensary representatives told council that construction should now begin by the end of this month on the county’s first dispensary, which will be named Liberty.
When finished, the dispensary will look like a cross between a high-end health spa and an Apple Store, another company executive previously said.
Estimates on the number of employees has also varied over time. Holistic representatives told city council that Liberty will employ about 12 employees, at least initially. About eight would be full time and four part time.
The board was told that Aliquippa residents will receive first consideration for the jobs, which should average about $16 an hour and include the possibility of participating in a bonus pool. The manager positions should average about $50,000 a year, they said.
Each dispensary is required to have a pharmacist or licensed medical professional on site at all times, but jobs will also include managers, wellness consultants and receptionists.
The company representatives also varied slightly from original estimates of dispensary hours, saying daily hours may be from 10 a.m. to 6 or 8 p.m. seven days a week.
The representatives said a portion of the property will be demolished to provide additional parking. They said peak weekday hourly traffic should be around 16 vehicles. On a Saturday, it could average about 27 vehicles an hour.
Council expressed concern with the nearby tight intersection, and asked in part about the possibility of brief facility closures during the one-hour period when children return from school. Representatives said that possibly required on-site security could help with any needed traffic control.
A facility security representative told council that the facility will have “40-some odd” high-definition cameras, including eight to 10 outside. Footage that could assist in police investigations in the area will be available, he said, adding that footage from Holistic’s other facilities has aided other police.
Council also noted it has been promoting the area along Route 51 for development, but conceded the chosen area is convenient to I-376 and to Hopewell and Center townships as well.
Holistic Industries owns and operates medical cannabis facilities in the District of Columbia and in four states, including Pennsylvania. Genderson said Holistic will open two more dispensaries in the region, one in Pittsburgh and one in a location yet to be determined.
Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill legalizing medical marijuana for qualifying patients into law in 2016. Dispensaries began selling it in the form of pills, oils, tinctures and ointments in February 2018. Dry leaf – only allowed to be used by vape – became available last August.
Liberty will carry a variety of products, including Liberty brand products grown at a sister facility in New Castle, another town chosen because of its financially distressed designation.
The state this year added anxiety disorders and Tourette’s syndrome to the list of qualifying disorders that can be treated with medical marijuana. Other qualifying illnesses include terminal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pain and multiple sclerosis.
To participate in the program, patients must apply for a medical marijuana card with the Department of Health and have a qualifying doctor’s recommendation — similar to a prescription.
More information about the state’s medical marijuana program can be found at medicalmarijuana.pa.gov.