State college’s 4th medical marijuana dispensary inauguration

From October 3, the new Vytal Options dispensary at 1653 North Atherton Street, to be inaugurated, which is adjacent to the Patton Township Walmart, according to a press release. Their parent company, When the Vytal Options opens, it will run under the hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. for six days a week.

“At the end of the day, we are very medically focused with a research program,” said Samantha Alderfer, director of marketing and business development for Vytal Option’s parent company, PA Options for Wellness. “We do caregiver programs, we help people get medical cards, and we do pop-up educational events.”

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Vytal Options presently has four dispensaries in Pennsylvania — at Fogelsville, Harrisburg, Lancaster and Lansdale — with plans to open its fifth Sept. 19 in Kennett Square. According to Alderfer, each location has a pharmacist on-site and the company also boasts its own line of products. (Its flower, or what most people think of when hearing about marijuana, is under a brand called “Mood.” Other products run under the “Solventless” brand or simply under “by Vytal Options.”)

The medical marijuana dispensary will be the fourth on Atherton Street, as all of Centre County’s dispensaries are located within five miles of one another. Ayr Wellness (formerly known as Nature’s Medicines) opened in June 2018 at 2105 N. Alderfer said Vytal Options didn’t mind the competition.

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“It’s a lot of dispensaries in a small area but, at the same time, that does create healthy competition,” she said. “Penn State is probably the No. 1 reason we’re going to be up there, but the other reason is our grow facility is in the center of the state in Duncannon. … That does help with freshness and control.”

In 2019, the Penn State College of Medicine announced a 10-year collaboration with PA Options for Wellness to investigate the potential benefits and risks of using marijuana extracts to treat a variety of health issues, with a focus on pain management and anti-cancer activity.

Vytal Options emphasizes both “research” and “education” in its mission statement, and there have been some tangible benefits for customers. Although THC-infused edibles like gummies — not to be confused with CBD-infused edibles at gas stations — are not medically legal in Pennsylvania, Vytal Options was the first to develop a THC-infused throat lozenge that dissolves in the mouth and activates in 10-20 minutes with 2-4 hours of relief.

On its Oct. 3 grand opening, Vytal Options also plans to have a representative on-hand to help walk potential medical marijuana patients through the process of getting a medical marijuana card. And 13 vendors are also expected to be on-site to talk to patients, interested parties and community members.

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Those looking to purchase medical marijuana in Pennsylvania — whether ointment, pills, vaporizers, flower (traditional), etc. — first need to register through the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry, and then have a physician certify they suffer from one of the qualifying medical conditions (e.g. anxiety, cancer, PTSD). Those approved must then pay $50 for a medical marijuana ID card, before being allowed entrance to a dispensary.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed the medical marijuana bill into law in 2016. By 2018, medical marijuana became available in the commonwealth. Based on data provided by the state last August, more than 630,000 patients and caregivers are registered in the commonwealth’s medical marijuana program.

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