STROUDSBURG, Pa. (WLVT) - Dallas Permenter grabbed his bike and traveled half an hour to make sure he was first in line. The East Stroudsburg resident was using his medical marijuana card for the first time, waiting for Keystone Canna Remedies (KCR) to open its newest location.
He said his doctors recommended medical marijuana to treat anxiety, depression and other conditions -- and said he's tried several other options.
"I've been on different depression medications, anxiety, sleeping medications, and they've only ever had negative effects," he said. "Sleep medications, I've have had hangovers. [Marijuana] is just a lot healthier way and makes me feel better."
KCR's Stroudsburg location is the third for the family-owned and operated company. The company opened a dispensary two years ago in Bethlehem and added another in Allentown.
"The Bethlehem location was the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Pennsylvania -- and, since then, our patient base has exploded," said co-founder and chief business development officer Victor Guadagnino. "Many of those patients actually are from this area, as we are the closest dispensary to this region currently. We felt that it was imperative for us to increase access and decrease those travel times for the patients."
"This has been on our radar for quite a bit," added co-founder and CEO Joan Guadagnino. "We tried to do this. COVID happened, and we had to postpone a few things."
Medical marijuana dispensaries were considered essential businesses during Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order. KCR moved operations outside to help patients like Aaron Amato of Macungie get medication.
"When the pandemic happened, I kind of stocked up right away, because I wasn't sure if things were going to shut down or not," he said.
Because of COVID-19, the dispensary is limiting how many people can be inside, and once they’re in, they’ll have to stay at least six feet apart.
"We actually have a built-in glass now at the counter that is going to have a physical barrier between us and the patient, just to keep the staff and the patients safe," Victor said. "We also have social distancing stickers, and we did work on our patient flow and a bit of the facility designed to help that distancing."
"We still are wearing masks and gloves and disinfecting every 45 minutes," Joan added. "So, the protocol is still the same."
KCR expects to see about 100 patients at its Stroudsburg location each day it’s open. The co-founders say it's a sign that Pennsylvanians want more access to medical marijuana.
"They just feel better," Joan said. "They feel that the other narcotics have a lot of side effects, and they feel this is a more natural way to combat that."
"We're nearing almost 300,000 patients in the state currently," Victor said. "We've seen an increase in physician involvement. We have seen significant change in our patients' lives, especially with opiate use reduction, a controlling of anxiety and depression, a huge degree of improvement for autism and just a wide range of disease states and conditions that this medicine can help."
For now, the Stroudsburg location on 1523 North 9th Street is only open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The goal is to host a grand opening next month.