A steady stream of true-believers lined up for bags of medical marijuana on Route 611 in Stroud Township Thursday morning, as what are expected to be thousands of patients at the first medical marijuana dispensary in the Poconos.
Aaron Amato was one of the first patients in line at Keystone Canna Remedies. Amato was all smiles as he walked out the door of the former stove store with an "eighth" of an ounce of medical marijuana.
Amato said he suffers from chronic pain and has been taking medical marijuana since 2018.
"It’s great," said Amato, who lives in Macungie, Lehigh County. "It works. It really works."
Amato said he intends to use medical marijuana, which he takes by vaping, "until the day I die."
He said the cost of the marijuana he likes varies by quality but the prices range from $40, $60 to $70.
As far as he’s concerned, the legal marijuana is way better than taking opioids.
Before anyone can buy medical marijuana there are a number of conditions that must first be met. Under the law, Pennsylvania residents who have a serious medical condition, as certified by an approved physician, are considered eligible to be patients.
Patients must first register for an ID card and use that card to obtain medical marijuana at dispensaries, according to the state Department of Health.
To participate in the program, a person must be diagnosed with a serious qualifying medical condition.
Among the conditions recognized by law, are nearly two dozen afflictions: cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, anxiety disorders, multiple sclerosis, HIV, opioid use disorders and post-traumatic stress, among others.
The dispensary on Route 611 is the third one opened by Keystone Canna Remedies, which has businesses in Bethlehem and Allentown.
The company is operated by the Guadagnino Family. Co-owner Joan Guadagnino, who was at the Stroud Township dispensary on Thursday, described the business as a "mom and pop" operation.
Her nephew, Victor Guadagnino Jr., who has a master’s degree in medical bioethics from NYU, is the company’s chief business development officer.
The dispensary is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with plans to expand days and hours of operation.