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Statewide shortage of medical marijuana causes local dispensary to close

PITTSBURGH — Just over two weeks into the sales of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, 11 Investigates uncovered a shortage of supply across the state.

As of Monday, one dispensary in Squirrel Hill is temporarily closed due to the shortage.

Currently, all six dispensaries across Pennsylvania get their marijuana supply from one grow operation, owned by Cresco Yeltrah, in Jefferson County.

For patients who have waited for years to get the drug, the setback is upsetting.

The hope is the shortage will come to an end by the end of the month, but it's already forcing some dispensaries like Solevo Wellness to close for the next  couple of days.

"It's tough with it being out because I want to go back and get some more medicine," said James Tarmin. "But it's sold out, they sold out in four or five days I think."


Tarmin began using medical marijuana two weeks ago for neck and back pain from a car accident, but since then, he's been unable to get more.

"The product's got to grow," Tarmin said. "I feel like people need to be a little bit understanding that it's a new thing."

11 Investigates dug into what's causing the shortage and when it will come to an end.

"We're the only processed grower right now, that puts some pressure on us to keep product on the shelf," said Cresco Yeltrah co-founder Trent Hartley, who owns a dispensary in Butler and runs the only legal marijuana grow operation in Pennsylvania.

Hartley said demand is much higher in Pennsylvania than they expected.

So far, 6,000 patients have been approved for medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, but only 2,200 have received medical marijuana over the first few weeks.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA SHORTAGE: Dispensaries in PA are running out of medical marijuana and in one case even temporarily closing their doors. 11 Investigates what’s causing the shortage and the impact it’s having on patients on Channel 11 News starting at 5.

Posted by Aaron Martin WPXI on Monday, March 5, 2018

Hartley hopes other growers will be approved quickly to help with the shortage.

"We realized we would be first to market, but I'm not sure we realized the other grower processors would be this far behind," he said.

Several experts expect the Pennsylvania Department of Health to approve two more growers by the end of the month.

Hartley also says they'll be taking down their largest harvest yet over the next two weeks, which should help with the shortage.