Inside Look: Philadelphia's First Medical Marijuana Dispensary Set to Open in May

Philadelphia’s first medical marijuana dispensary is finally opening.

Philadelphia’s first medical marijuana dispensary is finally opening.

Restore Integrative Wellness Center will be located in Philly’s trendy Fishtown neighborhood, directly next to The Barbary nightclub and across the street from The Fillmore music venue. SugarHouse Casino is at the end of the block.

The roughly 5,800-square foot property features all the trimmings of a brand new dispensary: tight security, pristine waiting room and private consultation rooms.

“We’re here to absolutely change a culture around medical marijuana use and de-stigmatize the whole culture around marijuana,” Dimple Thakrar, the self-described chief happiness officer at Restore Integrative Wellness Center, told NBC10.

Thakrar, an English dietitian, and her business partners became interested in Pennsylvania’s cannabis program three years ago. First they considered Center City, but found the permitting process cumbersome for that area. Buildings were too small or could not be retrofitted to accommodate security, electrical and other requirements.

Fishtown was a no-brainer with its empty warehouses and open parking lots.

“There was so much opportunity,” Thakrar said.

“And we liked that it’s regulated,” added Vipul Patel, chief operating officer at Restore Integrative Wellness Center. “It’s not the Wild West like out in California.”

Like other medical dispensaries in the state, Restore Integrative Wellness Center takes a holistic approach. Patients are encouraged to consult in private with a pharmacist who can help them find the right product - from oils and tinctures to pills and creams - to treat their condition. In Pennsylvania, qualifying conditions include:

  • 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
  • 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
  • Sickle Cell Anemia

Since the program started in February, more than 30,000 patients have registered. But the program has also come under criticism as growing pains prevail. Several dispensaries ran out of product during their first few weeks in business, something Patel is hopeful won’t happen to his dispensary.

“There were only one or two growers at the time,” Patel said. “We’re expecting up to four by the time we open.”

Pennsylvania’s medical cannabis program is just three months old and is already expanding. This summer, patients will be able to purchase dry leaf for vaping. Under the 2016 Medical Marijuana Act, smoking any other kind of cannabis flower remains illegal. 

Restore Integrative Wellness Center will open in mid-May.

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