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Carlisle medical marijuana dispensary to open Saturday

One of Pennsylvania’s first medical marijuana facilities will be opening its doors to patients on Saturday in North Middleton Township.

Dubbed Rise Carlisle, the location at 872 Harrisburg Pike will be one of three Rise dispensaries. A Steelton location opened Thursday morning, and a York location is planned.

“I’m a physician, I know there is an untapped market of patient demand for these types of medication,” said Jonathan Gusdorff, managing partner of KW Ventures, the investment group behind the Rise dispensaries.

Signed into law in 2016, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program allows for 12 cannabis growing licenses and 27 dispensary licenses, distributed by region. Last summer, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the businesses that had been selected.

Each dispensary license allows for up to three locations, hence Rise opening in Carlisle, Steelton and York.

“I saw an investment opportunity that had the possibility to positively impact the lives of thousands of people, which made it well worth the risk,” Gusdorff said.

Marijuana-based products present effective relief for chronic pain patients, with much less risk than common pharmaceuticals such as Vicodin, Percocet and others, Gusdorff said.

“There are simply too many deaths associated with those medications,” Gusdorff said.

KW Ventures has partnered with Green Thumb Industries to manage the Rise locations. Started in Chicago when Illinois began its medical marijuana program, GTI now manages marijuana facilities in five states, according to Tim Hawkins, GTI’s market president for Pennsylvania.

Although it can be difficult to gauge what the eventual demand for medical marijuana will be, over 30,000 patients in Pennsylvania have already applied for their medical marijuana card, Hawkins said. GTI also used its prior experience in other states to estimate the Pennsylvania market.

“We compared a lot to our data from Illinois,” Hawkins said. “Pennsylvania and Illinois have relatively similar populations and growth patterns.”

Marijuana does not cross state lines, at least legally, but GTI can purchase products from any of the 12 licensed growers in Pennsylvania.

“There are three shipping product right now and another three that we expect to start shipping very soon,” Hawkins said.

Like any other prescription drug, marijuana can’t simply be thrown in a truck.

“Everything is very controlled and tracked in real time,” said Ryan Bishara, general manager for Rise Carlisle. “The state specifies how everything is transported and tracked.”

The Carlisle location will have 12 employees, Bishara said, selling pills, tinctures, concentrates, topicals and oils. Most products, at least for now, are intended for consumption by vaporizer or nebulizer, Bishara said.

Dry leaf marijuana was recently approved by the state Department of Health for medical use, although by law it still cannot be smoked and must be used in a vaporizer.

State law does not regulate marijuana dispensary hours. Rise Carlisle plans to be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

The new medical marijuana dispensary Rise Carlisle held its open house Thursday in North Middleton Township.

Michael Bupp, The Sentinel 

Officials hold a ribbon cutting Thursday at the new medical marijuana dispensary Rise Carlisle in North Middleton Township. From left, Ryan Bishara, Rise Carlisle general manager; Dr. Jonathan Gusdorff, managing partner of KW Ventures; Deborah Ealer, North Middleton Township manager; Harry Kelso, North Middleton Township board of supervisors; and Kenita Honesty, assistant general manager.

provided by Cumberland County 

Cumberland County Vector Control Office will place Gravid Traps, pictured, around the county to collect mosquito samples.

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Cumberland County
Cumberland County commissioners push for widening of I-81 near Carlisle to three lanes

After a series of crashes on Interstate 81 in the Carlisle area in April, the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Thursday approved a resolution that asks PennDOT to prioritize and expedite plans to widen the highway to three lanes in each direction across the county.

Commissioners said the current design of the ramps and two-lanes of traffic no longer supports the number of vehicles traveling the interstate.

“Interstate 81, along with the Pennsylvania Turnpike, brings tremendous economic opportunity. But the interstate also poses safety concerns as traffic volume increases and congestion worsens,” the board said in a joint statement. “In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen crash after crash, many in the same area.

“We understand widening I-81 has a tremendous cost, but it’s time for our state and federal transportation planners and elected representatives to finally address the dire need for capacity expansion,” the board said. “In the meantime, we urge PennDOT to study what short-term actions could be taken now to help improve safety and reduce congestion.”

The county said the interstate sees 70,000 or more vehicles a day, with up to a third being tractor-trailers. Commissioners noted that many of the interchanges were designed in the 1960s and no longer meet current design standards, nor are they able to support current traffic levels.

In the resolution, the county commissioners said they would support all efforts from PennDOT to secure funding to engineer, design and widen I-81 to three lanes in both directions throughout Cumberland County. They request that PennDOT prioritize and expedite the engineering and design work for widening the interstate in Cumberland County from the Middlesex exit to the Allen Road exit, due to the increasing safety problems.

Until funds can be generated to widen the interstate, the commissioners said they are asking PennDOT to complete a safety study and make recommendations on interim safety improvements to decrease crashes and reduce congestion.

In the 2005 I-81 Widening Study, PennDOT recognized the safety and congestion problems created by the current design and suggested the addition of a third lane in both directions from Exit 29 (Shippensburg) to the Susquehanna River, according to the county.

PennDOT is finishing the final paving of the widened part of the interstate between the Route 114 exit (Mechanicsburg) and Route 581 interchange.

Greg Penny, spokesman for PennDOT District 8, said there are no projects scheduled for widening Interstate 81 in south central Pennsylvania, including Cumberland County.

He said a study conducted from 2002 to 2004 looked at reducing traffic congestion and improving safety by widening 77 miles of I-81 corridor from the Maryland state line to the six-lane section that began at Exit 59 (Route 581) ) and on the east side of the Susquehanna River from I-83 in Dauphin County to I-78 in Dauphin County. That project was estimated to cost about $1.5 billion and involved widening by building the third lane in the median area. "By using the median, we would not need to acquire additional land along the corridor," Penny said.

However, the estimate did not include updating and redesigning the interchanges to current standards.

Similar to the I-83 Master Corridor Study, the corridor could be divided into smaller, more manageable and less costly projects that could be prioritized by the metropolitan planning organizations. No project has been prioritized and proposed for further study, design and construction, most likely due to the challenges of funding it, he said.

Candidates voice platforms at crowded forum in Carlisle

Tuesday night’s candidates’ forum hosted by conservative-leaning groups in Carlisle presented a rapid-fire introduction to 30 contenders in May 15 primary races, packed into a roughly two-hour session at Carlisle Fire & Rescue.

Hosted by the Cumberland 9/12 Project and the Conservative Christian Center, the forum had a decisively right-leaning direction, with the qualifiers “pro-life” and “pro-Second Amendment” being used by a majority of candidates. Only two of the attending candidates were Democrats, with the rest in the GOP field.

Organizers said all candidates from all parties on Cumberland County’s May 15 primary ballots were asked to participate. Those races include governor, lieutenant governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. Congressional 10th and 13th Districts, the 30th state Senatorial District and state Representative districts 86,87, 88, 92, 193 and 199.

“It did open my eyes to a lot of the candidates I just didn’t know about — especially in the 13th District race. I got to sort out who was who,” attendee Dale Barrick said.

The 13th Congressional District race is an open field to replace retiring Congressman Bill Shuster, who was the only potential incumbent in the district after it was re-drawn by the state Supreme Court in the recent gerrymandering decision.

A total of eight Republicans are contending for the district, which stretches from eastern Westmoreland County to western Cumberland County.

“It’s a great group of good, conservative guys up here,” said current state Rep. Steve Bloom, who along with state Sen. John Eichelberger is one of only two 13th District candidates who holds political office.

Bloom and Eichelberger, however, cast themselves as reluctant politicians who assumed their roles out of moral necessity during the conservative push-back to then President Barack Obama.

“In 2010 I became so troubled, so disturbed, so concerned about our future as a country with the polices that President Obama was trying to impose on us as a nation that I got to a point where I felt like I had to do something. ... I felt this push to get off the sidelines and on the field,” Bloom said.

That overarching theme in the post-2008 Republican Party — a disdain for “career politicians,” stressing one’s outsider status and work ethic, and pledging to fight against the existential threat from the left — continued to be heard from most of the candidates on Tuesday night.

“Going up to that election in 2016, we were on the brink of losing our country,” said 13th District candidate Ben Hornberger of Shippensburg, who boasted that he had “hit 12,000 doors” in campaigning for Donald Trump.

“I refuse to give this country to the left-wing hacks that are trying to destroy us,” Doug Mastriano, another 13th District candidate, yelled during his strident monologue. “God said marriage is one man and one woman, but Obama said ‘no, I have another idea.’”

“We’ve thrown God out of our schools and out of the courthouse,” Art Halvorson said. “If we don’t get our culture back, nothing else matters. ... I want to reverse the immoral policies we have in Washington where we pay people not to work and incentivize immoral behaviors.”

Fighting the culture war, however, did not play well with all of those in attendance.

“Some of the candidates I might not agree with, but they’re not ideologues, and I did learn something about them — others, not so much,” attendee Winn Cleland said.

With Trump in office and Republicans in control of Congress, and with solid Republican majorities in the statehouse, GOP candidates have a good chance of enacting their policy plans. But it was often unclear what policies candidates were proposing beyond vague support for Trump and disdain for Obama — who is, of course, no longer in office.

“When they start to just talk about how great the current president is, I kind of tune out,” Nicki Cleland said.

In several cases, conservative candidates were not shy about criticizing that perceived lack of direction in the GOP, particularly on fiscal issues.

“Under Republican control, they put a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill on President Trump’s desk, a bill that gives $500 million to Planned Parenthood and fully funds sanctuary cities,” U.S. Senate candidate Jim Christiana said.

Christiana is running against current Congressman Lou Barletta for the GOP’s U.S. Senate nomination. The winner will attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Bob Casey in November.

“People like Lou Barletta and Bob Casey threw that bill on the president’s desk, and unfortunately the president signed it,” Christiana said. “I blame the legislative leaders who began the process 48 hours before the government shut down.”

The only two Democrats in attendance were state representative hopefuls Jean Foschi, in the 88th District, and Joseph McGinnis in the 199th.

“I want to get to know you because I believe we have many of the same values, principles and beliefs,” Foschi said, stressing the need for bipartisanship in order to get state budgets done on time.

“Our legislators cannot pass a budget on time and when they cannot, the taxpayers pay the penalty,” Foschi said.

Some incumbent candidates, at least at the state level, spoke about specific legislation. State Rep. Greg Rothman touted his bill that would require state regulatory agencies to post the status of permits.

“If you’re going to obey the laws and follow the rules and regulations, it’s a two-way street,” Rothman said. “We have to expect that the state will keep its end of the bargain and do this in a timely manner.”

State Rep. Dawn Keefer faces two Republican challengers and one Democratic challenger to retain her seat in the 92nd district. She’ll face Joshua Hershey and Curt Werner in the primary. On Tuesday, she discussed policies that would give additional legislative oversight of state funding pools.

“The Legislature needs to take back its role,” Keefer said. “There are far too many special funds being spent outside of the General Assembly.”

Several groups of state House candidates also voiced their support for lowering property taxes, but specifics were few and far between. Surrogate presenters for gubernatorial hopefuls Scott Wagner and Paul Mango briefly mentioned state Senate Bill 76, the proposal to eliminate school property taxes and replace them with state allocations from higher sales and income tax.

SB 76 has come under fire from both sides of the political aisle for raising consumer costs while giving a break to high-value corporate landowners. It also allows schools to continue to collect property taxes to pay prior debt.

“I want candidates who want to reduce the size and scope of government,” voter Bob Zambuto said. “We need to lower the tax burden, although when I hear candidates get up there and say ‘I support SB76,’ I wonder if they’re up to date on what that actually means.”