SELLERSVILLE >> Don’t bother digging through TerraVida Holistic Centers’ trash for freebies from the medical marijuana dispensary.
“Our Dumpsters will be locked, and there will be no marijuana in them,” said Chris Visco, TerraVida president and co-owner. “By law, we can’t dispose of any, so anybody who thinks that they’re gonna come to our trash cans and find scraps, they’re not.”
Security at the business is tight inside and out, she said.
“It’s important for people to note that we do have 24/7 surveillance,” Visco said. “Any movement outside our building will be detected.”
TerraVida, which opened Feb. 17 next to the firehouse on Main Street in Sellersville, is one of the first medical marijuana dispensaries in Pennsylvania. It’s also the only female-owned dispensary in the state, said Visco, who co-owns it with Adina Birnbaum.
“Pennsylvanians have been waiting years for this moment,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a Feb. 13 release announcing the opening of the first medical marijuana dispensaries.
“Medical marijuana is legal, safe and now available to Pennsylvanians suffering from 17 serious medical conditions. In less than two years, we have developed a regulatory infrastructure, approved physicians as practitioners, certified patients to participate and launched a new industry to help thousands find relief from their debilitating symptoms,” Wolf said.
The medical marijuana is not smokable, Visco said.
“There’s no leaf. There’s no bud. There’s no edibles,” she said.
The Sellersville TerraVida, which has about 15 employees, is expected to serve people living within about a 35-mile radius, Visco said.
It will be open six days a week (closed Sundays), she said.
“We’re highly recommending appointments,” Visco said. “Walk-ins are welcome, but there will be a long wait.”
Information is available at terravidahc.com or 215-836-1535.
“In order to come into the facility, a patient needs to have a medical marijuana card,” Visco said.
Patients first have to register on the state’s medical marijuana website, then have an approved recommending doctor recommend them for medical marijuana, after which the recommendation goes into the state system and the patient receives an email with a link to apply for the medical marijuana card, she said.
The dispensary cannot begin providing merchandise to the patient before the effective date on the medical marijuana card, which generally is about two weeks after the card is processed, Visco said.
“When they come to the dispensary, they’ll meet with our pharmacist and that will determine their dosage for a 30-day supply,” she said.
About 300 people had made appointments for consultations, which were beginning the following day, Visco said in a Feb. 16 interview.
“We have a lot of MS [multiple sclerosis] patients. We have a lot of cancer patients,” she said. “We have a lot of chronic pain patients who have nerve damage.”
Other patients include ones with fibromyalgia, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), neuropathy and autistic children, she said.
Medical marijuana uses include helping control pain, preventing nausea for cancer patients getting chemotherapy treatments and helping reduce seizures, she said.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is another type of medical marijuana used for cancer patients, she said.
“Studies have shown that it actually shrinks cancer cells and slows the growth,” she said.
The cost of the medical marijuana varies, depending on the amount and type needed for treating the patient’s condition, she said.
“It is not covered by insurance,” Visco said. “It’s still federally illegal.”
Only cash payments are accepted, according to TerraVida information.
About 30 to 35 patients per day are expected during normal business conditions, although there will be more at the start, Visco said.
Since only one of the growers has started making shipments so far, some of the merchandise that will later be carried isn’t yet available, she said.
“As of now, we only have cannabis concentrates, RSO syringes, vaporizers (disposable and cartridges), and limited capsules. As the growers expand production, our assortment will grow. In a short time, we are expecting to have different types of topicals, patches, creams, tinctures, lotions & ointments,” a Feb. 14 “What to Expect on Your First Patient Consultation with Our Medical Professional” blog posting on terravidahc.com said.
TerraVida will be opening additional offices in Malvern and Abington next month, Visco said.
The company has been contributing to help support the Veterans Multi-Service Center in Philadelphia, she said.
“Veterans are a priority for us,” Visco said.
“We’re really fighting to be allowed to give veterans discounts,” she said. “At this point, the program does not allow discounts or coupons for anyone.”
More than 17,000 patients have registered to be in the medical marijuana program, with almost 4,000 certified by a physician, the Feb. 13 release from Gov. Wolf’s office said.
The 17 qualifying conditions for medical marijuana under the Pennsylvania law are ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease); autism; cancer; Crohn’s Disease; epilepsy; glaucoma; HIV/AIDS; Huntington’s Disease; IBD (inflammatory bowel disease); intractable seizures; multiple sclerosis; neurophathies; Parkinson’s Disease; PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder); chronic pain; sickle cell anemia; and spinal cord nerve injuries.