This week is shaping up to be a big one for medical marijuana.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health awarded 13 permits Tuesday to cannabis cultivators, bringing the number of companies licensed to grow and process medical marijuana in the state to 25.
And on Wednesday, vaporizable "flower" — the most popular and affordable form of marijuana — goes on sale at a dozen dispensaries across the state.
The Health Department approved two new growers for the southeast section of the state. DocHouse LLC — headed by Elkins Park lawyer Justin Moriconi — will operate in Pottsville, and Agri-Kind LLC will set up cultivation in Chester.
Once again, Philadelphia was shut out.
Two Democratic politicians from Philadelphia, City Councilman Derek S. Green and State Rep. Jordan Harris, had called on the state to consider the city for an indoor grow operation.
"It's concerning," Green said. "We're up to 25 cultivators and there isn't a single one in the city. Look at the economic development perspective. We have the highest level of poverty of any large city in the entire nation. Cultivation provides jobs."
Nearly all the growers who wanted to operate in Philadelphia — four of the five applicants — were flatly rejected for submitting applications that were "incomplete." A Health Department spokesman said letters had been sent to those who were rejected, explaining the department's decisions, but he could not provide details.
DocHouse, which applied in the first round of permitting, has zoning approval to cultivate on top of a former coal mine overlooking the Fairlane Village Mall.
Agri-Kind, an offshoot of Agronomed Pharmaceuticals in Exton, will build a 48,000-square-foot facility in what was once a residential neighborhood in Chester. Agronomed CEO Jon Cohn said his company was working with the Stash House of Colorado and David Tuttleman, a Wilmington native who operates Nevada-based Matrix NV, a marijuana growing business. Agronomed is also growing 66 acres of hemp for CBD production in West Grove, Chester County.
According to the Department of Health, more than 52,000 patients have registered to participate in the medical marijuana program, and more than 30,000 of those patients have received their identification cards and are able to visit a dispensary to purchase medical marijuana. More than 1,000 physicians have registered for the program and, of those, more than 700 have been approved as practitioners.