McKeesport Mayor Mike Cherepko didn’t know much about medicinal cannabis when he was first approached by a company looking to build a growing facility in his community. But after learning about the health-care benefits of the marijuana plant, he now considers himself an advocate for its use as medicine.
“It gave me the opportunity to educate myself about medicinal cannabis,” Cherepko says. “When you hear the success stories [and] the tremendous impact it can have on individuals with certain disabilities and illnesses, it’s unbelievable.
“It’s heartwarming to see just how some of these people’s lives have changed once they were able to have access to medicinal cannabis.”
Last month, the company that first approached Cherepko, PurePenn LLC, was approved by the Pennsylvania regulators to build the medical-marijuana-growing operation in McKeesport. PurePenn was one of 12 grower/processors selected June 20 to receive a permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Since then, the department has granted 27 permits for medical-marijuana dispensaries.
“We’re really excited here in the city to be on the forefront of this new and upcoming industry,” says Cherepko, “and to be part of the positive impact it’s going to have on health care here in the state of Pennsylvania.”