Demand for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania runs high as supply runs low

CHAMBERSBURG, FRANKLIN COUNTY, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry appears to be high on demand, and low on supplies.

In the seven weeks since the first dispensary opened in Northampton County, several are reportedly running short of medication.

Organic Remedies in Chambersburg, Franklin County is one of the latest dispensaries scheduled to open in central Pennsylvania. It opens March 20th.

Patients might want to call ahead first before visiting any of the dispensaries which have opened so far.

Some Pennsylvania medical marijuana pharmacists like Organic Remedies president and CEO Eric Hauser, may find keeping their dispensaries fully stocked, a challenge.

“Our Enola facility actually has a pretty good supply of the vape pens, and some of the liquid concentrates, but we don’t have capsules or lotions, or tinctures, and honestly some of those products we’ve never had,” Hauser said.

While some shelves aren’t completely empty, patients may need to exercise a little patience of their own to take certain forms of the drug.

“Probably by the 20th, we’re going to have a pretty deep supply of all the different types of products, except the topicals. I think those are still maybe about 60-90 days away. They’re a little harder to formulate,” Hauser said.

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program has received an overwhelming response from patients, but it’s already experiencing some growing pains in producing the drug.

"There are already 3,500 patients that have a card, and there’s only six or seven dispensaries that are open at this point in time, and with one producer of product, supply is not meeting demand at this point,” Hauser said.

It's why Hauser advises patients to call first before dropping in for a visit.

"We’ve got patients coming from Scranton, Williamsport, State College, Pittsburgh. They’re coming from the four corners of the state, really. So, before they make a drive like that, we want to make sure that we’re going to have what they need,” Hauser said.

The demand for medical marijuana should catch up with supply eventually as a second producer should be online shortly. The state granted 12 grower-processor permits last summer with the potential to expand up to 25.

Meanwhile, some patients might have considered stocking up.

"They can buy up to a 30-day supply of medication. Most patients are not doing that. They’re buying more like a week to two weeks worth, just to see how it’s going to work for them, before they buy more, because it is fairly expensive,” Hauser said.