The Johnstown area is sparking interest from a crop of medical marijuana companies seeking approval to open growing facilities and dispensaries in this corner of Pennsylvania.

The Department of Health is rolling out the second phase of a statewide medical marijuana program.

And among the 39 applicants for four new Southwestern Pennsylvania licenses, 12 have submitted proposals to open a pharmacy-style office in the Johnstown region, records show.

Separately, three of 23 applicants in the same 11-county territory are seeking to open an indoor marijuana growing/processing facility in Johnstown.

“The next phase of the program will expand the reach of medical marijuana to make it more convenient for patients who need this medication,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said.

Dispensaries

Two years ago, Pennsylvania approved the prescribed use of marijuana for more than a dozen medical conditions, including epilepsy, cancer, AIDS and chronic pain.

It’s also a move projected to generate a different kind of green for the state – a projected $7.9 million in licensing revenue this year alone.

Eligible residents – those who receive a licensed doctor’s prescription – can go to a dispensary and buy medical marijuana in the form of a pill, oil or topical products, among others.

According to state health officials, 28,000 patients have registered in the program over the past year.

State law forbids the highly regulated dispensaries from selling the drug in a smokeable form – but variations can be chewed, applied to the skin, or vaporized and inhaled.

For the state’s initial rollout, a few dozen dispensaries – in places like Butler, Pittsburgh and Carlisle – and 12 growers/processors were permitted to set up operations across the state. Most of them have already done so.

The Cambria-Somerset region currently does not have a permitted dispensary.  A site was

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