SHAMOKIN, Pa. -- Three new medical marijuana dispensaries are planned for the coal region, one in Pottsville and two in Shamokin.
The dispensary sites have six months to become operational before they can start giving patients medical marijuana. Some people we spoke to in Shamokin are excited about the prospect of bringing new business into town.
The two dispensaries just approved by the state in Shamokin are on West Spruce Street and on North Shamokin Street less than a mile away.
"We have a lot of people in this area that are chronic pain patients," said Cindy Hartman of Shamokin. "If this helps people and it cuts back on them having to use so much opioid medication then that's a good thing."
"Everybody is in pain anymore, getting up in the morning they're in pain. I think it'd be a good idea, but I then again I think some people would also have the chance to abuse that also," said Josiah Larose of Shamokin.
Before these two medical marijuana dispensaries were approved by the state, the closest dispensary to Shamokin was 39 miles away in Williamsport.
"And then you have to go for the traffic and wait forever on the highway This is close for people who need it," said Chelsea Sobol of Shamokin.
Sobol lives right across the street from one of the newly approved dispensary sites, which was actually the former office of Dr. Raymond Kraynak. Federal authorities say he overprescribed opioids, and last year, Kraynak was charged in connection with the deaths of five of his patients.
People in Shamokin like the idea of this office space being used to legally help people who are in pain.
"The way I see it is marijuana is a natural thing. I'm not saying it doesn't have any side effects, but if the benefits of it outweigh the side effects and it helps people, that's a good thing. If it's in that office, so be it," Hartman said.
Once all of these newly approved dispensary sites are open, there will be a total of 79 medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.