Hundreds of businesses in Pennsylvania are vying for one of a precious few operating permits that will allow them entry into the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry in a type of modern medical gold rush.PennLive illustration 

Geoff Whaling wants to grow marijuana in an underground bunker that was built to survive nuclear attacks. 

It’s not because he is concerned the DEA might break through the door. The bunker provides a number of other benefits: it is secure, the temperature is steady and the humidity and other environmental factors can be easily regulated.

Whaling is one of several hundred hopefuls who are seeking to grow medical marijuana legally in Pennsylvania starting next year.

“We decided we would form an exploratory group to look for facilities,” he said. “And what better facility could there possibly be than a former bunker that was formed out of the Cold War? This is so uniquely positioned and located, in the middle of a medical complex right in downtown Pottstown.”

Across Pennsylvania, would-be medical marijuana companies are out pounding the pavement, trying to lock down locations and approvals in the hopes that they may be granted one of the state’s few coveted operating permits.

The odds are long. Really long. The state expects around 900 applicants to apply in the first round of permitting. Their potential prizes: One of 12 grower/processor permits and/or one of 27 dispensary permits.

But hope springs eternal a and from the first few scattered seeds could grow a new industry in Pennsylvania. 

In warehouses and industrial parks, in Cold War-era underground bunkers and in the shadow of power plants, entrepreneurs and medical professionals alike are investing time and energy in the hopes of winning the chance to be an early player in what could be a modern medical gold rush.

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