Entrepreneurs look to get in on ground floor of budding industry

    Medical marijuana dispensaries

    Medical marijuana dispensaries

    Could Pennsylvania’s launch of a medical marijuana program mean a change of career? Dozens gathered at a recent conference led by the group US Cannabis to explore that possibility.

    In a hotel meeting room in West Conshohocken, accountants, medical professionals and agricultural entrepreneurs heard from Michael Patterson, the CEO of US Cannabis.

    The health care administrator from North Carolina-turned-medical marijuana expert said he was glad to see the mix of people gathered for his presentation.”Because this is one industry, that people may not realize,” he said, “that … takes a village. So you need a lot of people coming from a lot of different types of areas and different backgrounds.”

    Among them was Sylvia Fleming. She and her friend Kia Edwards are nurses who want to start a dispensary. The mix of people at the conference could work in their favor as they network for financial backers. Launching a dispensary can cost up to half a million dollars, and applicants must show the state that they have $150,000 in the bank just to be considered.

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    “It is going to be costly, but you never know what you might do, unless you try it,” said Fleming. “I’m just ready to go for it.”

    Patterson said Pennsylvania’s introduction of medical marijuana represents a huge economic opportunity for the state and for those who want to get involved on the ground floor. But, there’s a big caveat.

    “A lot of investors who come to these [presentations], they’re pretty much weeded out. Because … what a bad pun! But they realize there’s no guarantees,” he said.

    Kia Edwards said she understands that. And she said she’s a little daunted by all of the different conditions she’d have to fulfill to be in compliance with the law.

    “It was a little intimidating to hear, ‘You do this, you go to jail, you do that, you go to jail,'” she said.

    But Patterson said the idea is to give people all the information they’ll need before they start the process.

    Pennsylvania’s program likely won’t roll out until 2018, but Patterson said growers need time to cultivate the plant, and dispensaries need to be approved and established.

    “For the public to feel comfortable with an industry starting, you need the time to in order to make sure you’re covering all the bases,” Patterson said. “So that two-year time frame may sound like a lot. But it’s not.”

    Pennsylvania’s new law will allow prescription of marijuana pills, oil, gels and ointments for a range of conditions that include cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

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