The Pennsylvania Department of Health on Thursday announced the names of 27 companies that will be permitted to sell medical marijuana across the state next year, reaching another milestone in a program that could lead to cannabis being available by 2018.

The announcement also set off another round of consternation about whether the cannabis dispensaries were being distributed fairly and put in places where they would serve the most patients.

In suburban Philadelphia, six are to open in Montgomery County, three in Bucks County, and two each in Chester and Delaware Counties.

In Philadelphia. the state approved four locations, three across the northernmost tier of the city, with one in East Mount Airy and two in Northeast Philadelphia. The fourth is in Fishtown near the SugarHouse Casino.

"There's not one in Center City, not one in West Philadelphia, not one by the airport, or in Old City," said Andrew B. Sacks, a lawyer and chairman of the medical marijuana and hemp department at Sacks, Weston, Diamond LLC. "There should have been one on Walnut Street. Period. This is just asinine."

Each of the 27 winners has the right to operate three storefronts. Though 81 dispensaries are allowed by law, many applicants chose not to ask for additional outlets.

Just 52 are expected to open sometime next year.

"It's hard to see if there was much consideration for access by patients, given these locations," said Alva Mather, one of three partners at the Pepper Hamilton LLP law firm leading a new cannabis industry group. "Being able to get to health-care facilities is always an issue. It's not set up with that framework in mind."

"A lot of these patients are terminal," said Chris Goldstein, a marijuana and patient advocate who writes the Philly420 column for Philly.com. "Dispensaries should be as convenient as a CVS or a Rite Aid."

But that could change.

The winners who have not committed themselves to opening all three of their allotted dispensaries "have the ability to put in for their second or third locations after their first is up and running," said April Hutcheson, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department.

Hutcheson said the locations were businesses that scored the highest on their applications.

"This is only the start of the program, and we're moving quickly to getting medication to the public," Hutcheson said. "As we need to grow, we can. They still have the ability to open up more locations."

The city zoning office is ready to expand the number of sites. It has cleared the way for 10 dispensary locations, granting zoning permits for real estate in neighborhoods that include Northern Liberties, Old City, and Center City. There is a variance for 12th and Walnut Streets. It is up to a permit winner to arrange with the building owner to open at one of those sites.

All applicants were required to pay $5,000 to apply for a dispensary permit. The companies also had to post a $30,000 deposit — refundable only to failed bidders — for each storefront. Each of the winners' three shops is required to be in a different county.

Dispensaries will operate like pharmacies that sell only one product: medicinal cannabis oils, which can be vaporized or consumed in a solution. They will be forbidden to sell whole-plant, flower, or edible products. Each permit, according to industry experts, is worth $10 million to $20 million, depending on the location and the number of customers each serves.

The dispensaries will be the only point where patients will encounter medical marijuana. To get it, they will be required to see a doctor who is certified and registered with the state Department of Health. The doctor will write a letter stating that the patient suffers from one or more of 17 qualifying conditions. It is up to the patient to submit the letter to the state and receive an ID card. Only card holders will be allowed to enter, and they will be able to buy medical cannabis from any dispensary in the state.

In Southeastern Pennsylvania, dispensaries are slated for Abington, Bensalem, Bristol, Devon, Elkins Park, Fort Washington, King of Prussia, Phoenixville, Plymouth Meeting, Philadelphia (4), Sellersville, Upper Darby, West Norriton,  and Yeadon,

Last week, the state announced the winners of 12 permits to grow legal cannabis in the state and process it into medicine.

Though industry experts have called the Health Department's efforts cautious and fair, many losing applicants have called the process opaque and biased. They have until Friday to file appeals. Several have threatened lawsuits. Litigation filed by failed applicants in Maryland and Florida has stalled the introduction of medical marijuana programs in those states for years.

The Health Department on Wednesday said it remained on track to provide cannabis oil to patients in 2018.

Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health on Thursday awarded 27 companies licenses to open medical-marijuana dispensaries. The companies can operate three storefronts, and 52 are scheduled to open next year. Four dispensaries were awarded licenses in Philadelphia and 20 in the Southeastern region, one of the six medical-marijuana regions established by the state.

Click on the markers on the map for more information.

SOURCE: Pennsylvania Department of Health
Staff Graphic
Dispensary Name Address Town County
TerraVida Holistic Centers 1626 Old York Rd. Abington Montgomery
Mission Pennsylvania II LLC 2733 W. Emmaus Ave. Allentown Lehigh
Lebanon Wellness Center LLC 514 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd. Altoona Blair
Holistic Pharma LLC 4201 Neshaminy Rd. Bensalem Bucks
Keystone Canna Remedies 1309 Stefko Blvd. Bethlehem Northampton
Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC – Tobyhanna Dispensary Route 940 and Kimberly Drive Blakeslee Monroe
Dubois Wellness Center LLC 109 Main St. Bradford McKean
Bristol Dispensary 2412-2414 Dunham Road Bristol Bucks
Dubois Wellness Center LLC 240 W. Main St. Brookville Jefferson
Butler County Dispensary Facility 201 Pillow St. Butler Butler
Firefly Dispensaries 872 Harrisburg Pike Carlisle Cumberland
Organic Remedies Inc. 600 Wayne Ave. Chambersburg Franklin
Firefly Dispensaries 1737 Lincoln Way E. Chambersburg Franklin
The Healing Center 270 Executive Dr. Cranberry Butler
Keystone Integrated Care LLC 21181 Route 19 Cranberry Butler
Keystone Dispensaries 420 W. Lancaster Ave. Devon Chester
Dubois Wellness Center LLC 1222 S. Brady St. Dubois Clearfield
Justice Grown 78 Gateway Shopping Center Edwardsville Luzerne
Restore Integrative Wellness Center LLC 8003 Old York Rd. Elkins Park Montgomery
Organic Remedies Inc. 4425 Valley Rd. Enola Cumberland
GTI Erie Dispensary 7789 W. Ridge Rd. Fairview Erie
Cure Pennsylvania 475 Pennsylvania Ave. Fort Washington Montgomery
Lebanon Wellness Center LLC 19 Baltimore St. Gettysburg Adams
Keystone Integrated Care LLC 303 E. Pittsburgh St. Greensburg Westmoreland
Knox Medical 6444-652 Frederick St. Hanover York
Keystone Dispensaries 120 Hansen Access Rd. King of Prussia Montgomery
Cure Pennsylvania 1890 Fruitville Pike Lancaster Lancaster
Lebanon Wellness Center LLC 847 Cumberland St. Lebanon Lebanon
The Healing Center 130 Mall Circle Blvd. Monroeville Allegheny
Reading Dispensary 3225 N. 5th Street Hwy. Muhlenberg Berks
TerraVida Holstic Centers 8319-8325 Stenton Ave. Philadelphia Philadelphia
PharmaCannis LIFE 599 Franklin Mills Circle Philadelphia Philadelphia
Restore Integrative Wells Center LLC 957-963 Frankford Ave. Philadelphia Philadelphia
Holistic Pharma LLC 8900 Krewstown Rd. Philadelphia Philadelphia
Cure Pennsylvania 500 Kimberton Rd. Phoenixville Chester
Maitri Medicinals – Oakland 2846 Boulevard of the Allies Pittsburgh Allegheny
Keystone Relief Centers – Squirrel Hill 3885 Forward Ave. Pittsburgh Allegheny
Keystone Integrated Care LLC 5200 Harrison St. Pittsburgh Allegheny
Ilera Healthcare 420 Plymouth Rd. Plymouth Meeting Montgomery
Harvest of Reading 2701 N. 5th Street Hwy Reading Berks
Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC – Keyser Dispensary 1790 N. Keyser Ave. Scranton Lackawanna
TerraVida Holstic Centers 64 N. Main St. Sellersville Bucks
PA Health and Wellness 2105 N. Atherton St. State College Centre
Firefly Dispensaries 801 S. Front St. Steelton Dauphin
Maitri Medicinals – Uniontown 7 W. Main St. Uniontown Fayette
Grassroots Cannabis 130 S. State Rd. Upper Darby Delaware
The Healing Center 799 W. Chestnut St. Washington Washington
Holistic Pharma LLC 2030 W. Main St. West Norriton Montgomery
Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC – Kidder Street Dispensary 765 Kidder St. Wilkes-Barre Luzerne
Keystone Center of Integrative Wellness LLC 1322 W. 4th St. Williamsport Lycoming
Keystone Dispensaries 622 Industrial Park Dr., B Yeadon Delaware
Keystone Relief Centers – Jackson’s Pointe Corner of Jackson Lane and Jackson Pointe Court Zellenople Butler