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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.

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