SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP – The team behind the Grove City area’s first hemp dispensary aims to educate the public while providing quality products.

“This is a really big step for this area,” Jackie Bruestle of Kennerdell said Saturday at the grand opening of the Black Bear Hemp Dispensary.

Located at 106 Garrett Drive, Springfield Township, the business is off state Route 258 near Grove City Premium Outlets in the building that previously housed Kellner’s Fireworks and an autobody shop.

It is run by co-founders Jesse Worsk and Carrie Lester, who — along with capital investors Darrin and Rebecca Brooks — saw a need for that kind of shop in the area.

“They’ve welcomed us with open arms,” Worsk, also chief operating officer, said of the community, including Independent Taco, which gave away tacos on Saturday.

Worsk and Lester, a couple that lives in Kennerdell, met while they were both working in the medical cannabis industry.

The shop offers hemp- derived cannabis items – often referred to as cannabidiol, or CBD – that are lab-tested and come from Pennsylvania farms.

Their suppliers create gummies, tinctures, oils, salves, bath bombs, vape cartridges and more that are designed to help with health issues like muscle and joint pain, anxiety, migraines, sleep disorders and nausea.

There are also products for pets and frozen drinks that come with a sealed shot of CBD.

And because the products are not medical marijuana, which means that a medical marijuana card issued by a doctor is not needed, Worsk said.

But there are a few things customers need to be aware of before making a purchase: they must be at least 18 to enter the shop and buy certain items.

And customers must be at least 21 in order to buy the Delta 8 products, which essentially give an “intoxicated” feeling while helping with pain management, Worsk said.

Customers are encouraged to ask questions to find out which products would best fits their needs.

Worsk recommends that patrons with certain medical conditions or those who take certain kinds of medication talk to their doctor first, though hemp products are known to negatively interact with very little, he added.

Worsk and Lester draw from their own experiences to help customers.

Lester got her start with the industry in California, where she tried medical marijuana to help with migraines.

“It was a natural alternative to my tramadol,” she said of the prescription painkiller that made her groggy and sleepy.

She was happy with the switch because so many prescription medications have long lists of potential side effects.

Worsk’s mother Amy Clark, who is a breast cancer survivor, used CBD to help with the side effects of chemotherapy, and Worsk uses CBD for chronic shoulder pain.

“There’s still a lot of education that needs to go along with it,” said Worsk, an Army Reserve veteran who worked for one of the country’s largest cannabis multi-state operators.

Many folks aren’t familiar with the industry or they’re hesitant about change, so Black Bear Hemp Dispensary wants them to know that its products are safe and effective, hoping to take away the stigma often attached to CBD.

Popular web retailers sell similar products, but Worsk said people don’t really know what they’re getting, while Black Bear provides personalized assistance.

Black Bear Hemp Dispensary will soon be adding more shopping options to its website and creating take-home literature. The business is also considering joining a program that helps people charged with marijuana possession have their records expunged.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf supports recreational marijuana, and another bill in the works could allow “mom and pop” shops to also sell products like Black Bear’s, he said.

Worsk, a Franklin native who graduated from Slippery Rock University, said they settled on Springfield Township in part because he was already familiar with the area.

And black bears are known to stay close to home, so selecting the name of the business was an easy decision.

“They really want to help. It’s cool to see it all tenfold,” Bruestle said.

Black Bear Hemp Dispensary, 106 Garret Drive, Springfield Township, is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 724-748-6051 or visit “Black Bear Hemp Dispensary” on Facebook or the website: blackbeardispensary.com

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