Updated 35 minutes ago

Pennsylvania’s Department of Health awarded permits Tuesday to 12 companies that applied to grow marijuana to help treat serious medical conditions.

The recipients, which have six months to begin operating, include PurePenn LLC in McKeesport and AGRiMED Industries of Pennsylvania LLC in Cumberland Township, Greene County.

“We’re pleased that (state officials) recognized PurePenn’s business sense and equally strong mission to bring the highest-quality products to patients,” said PurePenn CEO Gabe Perlow, a Pittsburgh attorney.

“Our aim is to improve patients’ quality of life, comfort, and well-being. That principle guides us in every step we take,” Perlow said.

Perlow’s medical marijuana cultivation and processing plant will be located on a 5-acre plot at the RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport. Construction on the 21,000-square-foot building will start soon, he said.

Perlow partnered with Moxie, a company that processes and distributes pharmaceutical-grade cannabis-oil products in California, Nevada and Michigan, to win the permit. The parthership gave PurePenn access to more than 100 cannabis plant strains and genetics.

He estimated that the McKeesport operation could eventually bring up to 75 jobs, not including construction. He said the lowest wage would be $14.50 an hour.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko celebrated the announcment.

“People here really want to work, there’s no question,” Cherepko said. “From the very beginning, we’ve had serious conversations with PurePenn about local jobs and they have been receptive. Seventy-five jobs with the opportunity to expand is tremendous for us.”

State Sen. Jim Brewster, D-McKeesport, predicted the new facility “will attract other businesses who will want to locate near the facility and create spin-off businesses that will generate additional work for local residents.”

“This is another large step in the rebuilding of the city and region,” Brewster said.

John Collins, the Director of the state’s Office of Medical Marijuana,

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