Unveiling the New Pittsburgh

How Cresco Yeltrah is Helping to Shape a New Landscape in the PA Cannabis Market

I know, I know.  Just settle down. When someone thinks cannabis, they typically are not going to think Pennsylvania.  It’s hard for a PA native like myself to come to the realization that cannabis is here.  To date, over 20,000 patients have received their medical card, and the PA Department of Health has said that 250,000 patients are likely.  Put into perspective, the population within the city limits of Pittsburgh is about 305,000.  Not bad.

Even better are more recent events like the legislator’s decision to permit the sale of cannabis flower, and the rumblings of a recreational cannabis market on the rise.  Money likely talks loudly here, and at this point, the tens of thousands of people already benefitting from the legal use of cannabis products to treat their ailments are welcoming their new freedom.

I met with Trent Hartley and Beth Bittner of Cresco Yeltrah, a trendsetting grower, processor, and dispensary licensee in Western PA.  As we walked through CrescoYeltrah’s Strip District dispensary which was nearly ready for business, Trent talked about CrescoYeltrah’s thoughtful plan from the design of the space, to the education provided therein, to staff and patients alike.  The space will provide a nice amalgamation of past, present, and future.  The location’sexposed wood, brick, and steel harken back to the industrial aspects of the Old Pittsburgh.  The dispensary floor illustrates the New Pittsburgh, with a half-dozen or so flat screen TVs that will provide the daily menu, educational information about cannabinoids and terpenes, and what products might work well for specific patient needs.Missing, at least for now, will be the anecdotal information provided by budtendors (here they are called patient care specialists) regarding “strain” name, and the indica versus sativa debate.

CrescoYeltrah had the foresight to acquire a 3600 sq. ft. space next door, which will be used as an educational centerfor continuing their mission regarding teaching the next generation of cannabis consumers. Thus, CrescoYeltrah has already begun playing a pivotal role in the unraveling and evolving of this New Pittsburgh. In addition to two dispensaries, CrescoYeltrah operates a 46,000 sq. ft. grow, and vends their product line in dispensaries throughout the state.

I asked Trent how PA, and really the East Coast differs from West Coast markets, or Illinois, home to the original Cresco Yeltrah.  “The East Coast is truly medically inclined”, Trent replied. “We’ve trained our patient care specialists to understand that how a person is going to feel is heavily based in terpenes. The patient care specialist is trained in the science of the plant.”

Perhaps you’ve heard of the opioid epidemic in this area.  It’s become so bad, that the state amended the list of conditions suitable for acquiring a medical cannabis card to include opioid addiction.  In an area flooded with pharmaceuticals, and containing the region’s heroin overdose capital, something needs to change.  “No other state has passed opioid addiction”, Trent said.  “Places have seen something like a 25% reduction in script writing for addictive, opioid medications.”

In addition to their diligence to becoming strong stewards of cannabis education, CrescoYeltrah understands the value of researching the specific effects of different chemical profiles of cannabis for generating targeted therapies.  To that end, CrescoYeltrah has joined forces with Dr. Sue Sisely to evaluate the effects of cannabis products for treating chronic pain.

Beth, having spent 27 years in the drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health field, spends her time educating nearly everyone on the medical efficacy of cannabis. She’s visited advocacy groups, such as for the autistic, she’s helped educate doctors and care providers, and continues to spend what free time she has scheduling more educational seminars.

“I believe everyone, whether they initially agree or disagree with medical cannabis, should be open to becoming educated,” Beth explained.“The science behind the medicine is truly fascinating and once a person learns the potential benefits of the plant and how the terpenes and cannabinoids interact with our bodies there is no denying it.”

“I cover many of the details people are curious about, like the law, the seed-to-sale process, what cannabinoids and terpenes are, how to get a medical card. The more people learn about the program, the plant and the process the more supportive they become.”

After spending some time with Trent and Beth, I almost forgot where I was. This isn’t Colorado or California, but it also isn’t pretending to be. While those markets will always be legendary for brazenly deciding they’d had enough prohibition, and that their constituents deserved alternative health options, the PA market has sought to build upon what’s been done in the past, but also, to help steer the cannabis industry into tomorrow. Through their dedication to the plant and to educating a highly conservative population in a city with one of the higher senior citizen demographics, Cresco Yeltrah has firmly planted their flag in a city that needed this type of revitalization.

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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