The weather was cold and rainy Monday as a group of people waited in line under a tent and umbrellas for the grand opening of the new Bradford Herbology dispensary at 109 Main St.
The Grassroots facility, described as a “Medical Cannabis Dispensary,” grows, processes and sells cannabis through a unique, vertically integrated business model, operates one of 13 approved grow licenses in the state. Officials with the company based in Chicago, Ill., said the 3,000-square-foot facility, has hired between 10 and 15 local people to work as trained herbologists. The company also has dispensaries in Altoona, DuBois, Gettysburg, Morton and one other facility in the Philadelphia area.
The dispensaries admit people with medical cards who have 21 qualifying medical conditions that are certified by a doctor. Company officials have noted that Medicaid, Medicare and medical insurance will not pay for the products; therefore, customers are expected to pay cash. Several people waiting in line said they had chronic pain and preferred using cannabis to help with their condition instead of opioids prescribed by doctors.
A man who gave his first name as Chuck said he has had chronic pain since he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident more than two decades ago. After using prescribed opioids to ease the pain, he began using medical marijuana last year.
“I’ve had 17 different surgeries in the last 22 years,” he recalled. “I’d been on opioids (during that time) and that’s not good.”
He said when a company opened in Erie last year, he traveled to that community to obtain various forms of cannabis to help his condition. The products are typically available in flower, vapes, extracts/oils, topicals and concentrate forms.
Chuck and others waiting in line said that paying for the cannabis in cash, as well as the related costs for medical cards, is difficult but is something they feel is necessary because of the addiction and chronic constipation associated with opioids.
He said the location of the Bradford dispensary will also eliminate the daylong travel involved with trips to Erie. He noted the cannabis medication helps him sleep at night, and the type of cannabis he receives doesn’t make him hungry.
“And here’s the good thing about the medical marijuana: there are no side effects,” he claimed.
“Every prescription I get, the drug has a side effect. (Medical marijuana) doesn’t.”
He said reports of local and regional people overdosing and dying from opioids also caused him concern for his survival.
“I figured that I’ve got to try something different,” he shared. “I don’t want to be a statistic like other poor people … I don’t want to be that statistic.”
Ian Gibbs, a spokesperson for Grassroots, said the company is very pleased with the new location.
“Bradford is a centralized location and I think it will bring a lot of individuals here,” Gibbs said. “Hopefully this not only brings in more patients for medication, but also brings in a little more awareness to the community.”
Kara Kennedy, executive director of the Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce, said the agency is “happy to welcome them to the neighborhood.
“It’s been several months in the making,” Kennedy said of the dispensary. “Well before they were ready to open, they joined the Chamber — they have that commitment to community and giving back along with providing the services they provide.”
Kennedy said she believes the dispensary will bring business to the downtown area.
“I know that some of the merchants in the area are excited about that,” she continued. “It’s a service that is obviously growing in the state and we’re glad to have them here as part of the business community.”
Kennedy noted the building, which had housed Mexican restaurants in the past, has been vastly improved by the new owner.
“They have done significant infrastructure work to the building to get it ready for their operation,” Kennedy added. “Anytime someone is investing in one of our downtown properties, keeping them viable and in good shape is a plus.”
According the City of Bradford, a building permit issued to Grassroots in October stated the estimated cost of the renovation was $185,000.
The dispensary is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Walk-in customers with medical cards will be admitted. For more information, visit www.herbologydispensary.com