HARVEST

Harvest Health & Recreation opens it doors on Tuesday after months of delays.

Medical marijuana card-holders now have a second dispensary option in downtown Johnstown.

A local subsidiary of Arizona-based Harvest Health and Recreation has opened its Johnstown location at 339 Main Street, introducing its fourth Pennsylvania dispensary – and its first in Western Pennsylvania.

"The opening of Harvest of Johnstown enables us to deliver on our promise to increase accessibility to trusted, top-notch cannabis retail experiences to as many qualifying patients and caregivers as we can," Harvest CEO Steve White said in a release to media.

Harvest officials described their company as a leader in the cannabis industry, with a team of experts "that are eager to educate the public about cannabis and how it can improve lives."

Harvest is among the nation's largest medical marijuana retail operators, with locations spread across 18 states and territories. The company employs more than 1,700 people and has the licensing rights to operate as many as 210 facilities, its website shows.

The company's other Pennsylvania locations are located in Scranton and Reading.

Company officials did not provide an employment total for the dispensary Tuesday.

Harvest's Johnstown dispensary was in the works since early summer. But it stalled for a few months due to a state Department of Health investigation related to two separate issues.

The company first caught the department's attention after announcing its intent on operating 21 Pennsylvania dispensaries – six more than the state allows.

In the weeks that followed, the investigation expanded to include questions regarding Harvest's approved applications to receive the exclusive rights to operate dispensaries across the state. Details emerged that the company used a New Mexico contractor to complete dispensary work, instead of a minority-owned Pennsylvania business and female-owned business that it pledged to hire in its formal application, which was scored based on a points system.

In August, Harvest reached a settlement with the state, permitting the company to seek final approval to open its Johnstown location and several others. But the company has to agree to relinquish permits for nearly complete operations in New Castle and Shamokin.

Downtown Johnstown – and Cambria County – now has two medical marijuana dispensaries in operation, after initially being bypassed two years ago in the state's Phase I license award.

The other, Beyond/Hello, is operated by the Florida-based Jushi Holdings subsidiary Franklin BioScience.

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5053. Follow him on Twitter @TDDavidHurst and Instagram @TDDavidHurst.

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