Medical marijuana industry growing in NEPA

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CHRISTOPHER DOLAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A state notice regarding a medical marijuana dispensary permit is taped to the window of a vacant storefront at the Keyser Oak Shopping Center in Scranton.

CHRISTOPHER DOLAN / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A vacant storefront at the Keyser Oak Shopping Center in Scranton on Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. The location will eventually become home to Columbia Care Pennsylvania LLC’s medical marijuana dispensary.

Jeff Zick relied on the black market to get the only medicine that makes his post-traumatic stress disorder manageable — marijuana.

“For me, medical marijuana helps me sleep and function (in) a normal daily life without taking harmful pharmaceuticals with their nasty side effects,” said Zick, of Hop Bottom, who owns Big Yield Hydroponics in Scranton and is president of the Pennsylvania Cannabis Festival. “This has been the only thing that’s worked for me in the last 10 years.”

Under Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program, signed into law in April of 2016, Zick qualifies for a medical card allowing him to legally purchase from dispensaries across the state the marijuana products that

help him work and sleep. While he said he already saw a doctor and is approved for the card, local dispensaries are not ready yet to sell marijuana-based medicine.

“Right now, we are forced to go to the black market and be criminals until they get the system up and running,” said Zick, who plans to travel to Western Pennsylvania later this month to buy the medicine legitimately from Cresco Yeltrah LLC’s Butler County dispensary, CY+, when it becomes available.

With a company already cultivating cannabis in Scranton and several area dispensaries preparing to serve patients, Northeast Pennsylvania’s budding medical marijuana industry is not far behind.

The state Department of Health recently approved Luzerne County’s

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