2 companies get permits to grow and process medical marijuana near Pittsburgh

The facilities will be located in Carmichaels in Greene County and McKeesport in Allegheny County.

Marijuana Plant
Sarah Anne Hughes

Two companies have received permits to grow and process marijuana in Southwest Pennsylvania, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday.

The companies, AGRiMED Industries of PA and PurePenn, will have facilities in Carmichaels in Greene County and McKeesport in Allegheny County, respectively. They are two of 12 companies that got the green light from DOH today to begin the process of cultivating marijuana for medicinal purposes.

John Collins, director of the Office of Medical Marijuana, told reporters the state’s department received 457 applications: 177 for growers/processors and 280 for dispensaries. DOH is expected to announce which groups received permits to open dispensaries by the end of the month.

Collins called Tuesday’s announcement “a significant step forward” in the implementation of the program and said the state is still on track to get medical marijuana in the hands of patients in 2018.

Each of the state’s six regions got two permits. Applicants who weren’t selected have the right to appeal, Collins said.

Courtesy of Pa. Department of Health

Marijuana that will be used to treat 18 serious illnesses in Pennsylvania must be grown indoors in a secure facility, Collins said. Growers and processors have six months to become operational and may not start growing marijuana until they’ve been deemed so by the state.

Collins stressed that the selection process was an objective one conducted by state employees whom he declined to name, citing regulation standards. He said at least two staff members witnessed each application package being opened.

So what do we know about the two companies that got permits in our region?

PurePenn is a Downtown-based company, according to the Post-Gazette, with “access to a genetic library of hundreds of cannabis strains to produce high-quality, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis-oil products.” At most, PurePenn expects to employ 75 people.

In a press release, Philadelphia-based AGRiMED said it would spend “$25 million to cultivate and develop 61 acres” of land in Greene County and will create at least 62 jobs.

While the state issued 12 grower/processor permits today, it can issue up to 25 total. Collins said DOH hasn’t determined a timeline for phase two of the program’s rollout.