Keystone Canna Remedies, which opened in Bethlehem in January, is the first medical marijuana dispensary in Pennsylvania. It aims to improve patients’ quality of life by allowing them to take control of their healthcare.
Victor Guadagnino, the chief business development officer, said the dispensary sees an average of about 60 patients each day. He said Keystone’s goals are to educate patients, create a safe regiment and build a relationship with patients using their backgrounds in healthcare.
“Patients are from all different walks of life,” said Joan Guadagnino, the chief operations officer. “They’ve come here and they are just seeking a new way, a new relief. We’ve seen some of our patients walk out of here and come back with no canes and no pain.”
Victor Guadagnino said those at Keystone do not consider cannabis a cure — however, they want it to be a part of patients’ regiments to stay healthy.
“If we can get you moving better, sleeping better and eating better, then you are going to feel better,” Victor Guadagnino said.
Keystone Canna Remedies was opened in Bethlehem because it was seen as a centralized location not too close to Philadelphia. In April 2016, the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program was signed into law with the goal of providing access to individuals suffering from serious medical conditions. Since then, medical marijuana dispensaries have opened across the state, with many clustered in Philadelphia.
Peter Melan, a member of the Easton city council, sees the benefits of having a medical marijuana dispensary in the Lehigh Valley.
“I think that the fact that they opened up a legalized dispensary within 15 minutes of the city is going to truly help those who need it for medical purposes,” Melan said. “I’m hoping to see one open up closer to Easton so it can help out our residents, and provide better access to medical marijuana.”
Olga Negrón, a Bethlehem city council member, proposed a resolution to decriminalize marijuana in Bethlehem during the council’s April 17 meeting.
The city of Easton also proposed an ordinance to decriminalize marijuana usage. However, the ordinance did not pass in a council a vote of 4-3.
“What I wanted to do was to mimic some of the other cities that have already passed it,” Melan said, “and be the first city in the Lehigh Valley to pass this type of marijuana reform legislation.”
Melan said the ordinance did not pass because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. He said the ordinance would have only decriminalized marijuana, not legalized it. This would mean that a person caught in possession of the drug would be given a small fine, rather than a jail sentence.
Melan said the ordinance would also protect young people in the Lehigh Valley if caught in possession. With the ordinance in effect, parents would be fined, rather than minors who were caught with the drug.
“If we could police it in a much more civilized manner, as opposed to putting people in prison and ruining their lives for a couple of years,” Melan said, “I think we may have a better outcome of people using it in a legal fashion versus illegally.”