Finally! Good news for New York cannabis patients. Access to critical cannabis therapies is increasing before our eyes due to an expanding list of qualifying conditions and new medical dispensaries opening up across the state.
PharmaCannis, a New York and Illinois-based dispensary group, is a shining example of the eastern US cannabis scene, complete with state-of-the-art production facilities, professionals from the pharmaceutical industry, and an eye towards making cannabis a part of the future of healthcare. With eight dispensaries and three cultivation centers across New York and Illinois, PharmaCannis is fast taking the lead in showing the world how cannabinoid-based therapies are a part of healthcare.
State-specific regulations have a major impact on the direction of cannabis companies and their offerings. The license application process in eastern states is intense; licenses are few and far between. In 2015, PharmaCannis received one of only five licenses awarded in New York State.
One of the major differences in the eastern market is the requirement for vertical integration. Each medical cannabis provider has each stage of the business from seed to sale. This includes the cannabis grow and processing facilities, and the dispensaries, that are instrumental in the treatment of patients. Because Pharmacannis has built its business within the stricter regulations of the eastern United States, the company’s approach promises a clean, safe, and medicinal environment.
Working to sign up patients and doctors is the next major step for the cannabis industry. Just last week, HelloMD launched in New York, providing a brand new channel for New Yorkers to obtain a medical marijuana recommendation from a physician or other qualified healthcare practitioner. New York’s list of qualifying conditions recently expanded to include chronic pain, which can increase the number of potential patients. PTSD will potentially be added next, continuing to drive growth in the market.
One remaining challenge is educating physicians and patients who are not aware of how cannabinoid-based therapies may be used in the healing process. PharmaCannis tackles this problem by offering education for both patients and doctors while providing the highest quality care. Patients have access to guidelines on how to use medical cannabis, while physicians are offered a “Clinical Cannabinoid Medicine Curriculum,” and continuing education courses.
The interior of a PharmaCannis dispensary.
Each PharmaCannis dispensary in New York is managed by a licensed pharmacist, and all Patient Care Representatives go through a rigorous two-day training when hired.
“We distinguish ourselves on a personal, one-to-one healthcare consultation model, where a patient has the ability, if desired, to spend time individually and privately with a pharmacist or patient care representative at the dispensary,” says Jeremy Unruh, General Counsel of PharmaCannis.
New patients might expect the opportunity to have an extended 30-45 minute consultation on a first visit. Medical cannabis products resemble a prescription one might receive at a pharmacy or physician’s office. “Our patients benefit from quality-control tested, accurately labeled products in tamper-evident, child-resistant packaging. These are the consumer protections that PharmaCannis patients are able to take for granted,” says Unruh. Follow-up outreach and compassion care are the final steps of the process, to ensure patients get what they need and help them stay educated on what is available.
“The driving goal at PharmaCannis is to be the national leader in driving medical marijuana to take its place, whatever that may be, in healthcare” says CEO Teddy Scott. PharmaCannis brings together experts from the medical, pharmaceutical, and cannabis fields into its facilities, blending the art and science of growing cannabis with the precise manufacturing processes of the pharmaceutical world.
Among the senior staff are cultivation manager Brendon Hershey, who used to work for DuPont Pioneer, a major national agricultural products producer seed producer, and Louis Mejias, a Big Pharma scientist who is responsible for PharmaCannis’ extraction process. “I transitioned my career into medical cannabis because I believe in the science. It’s a natural product made from a natural process in a highly secure and regulated way,” Mejias is on record telling the New York Post.
PharmaCannis cultivates their own plants.
At present, New York’s medical cannabis program only allows medical cannabis to be administered in the form of a tincture, oil, or pill. PharmaCannis currently offers tinctures and vape cartridges, with plans to introduce tablets and capsules soon. Consistent dosage is a key issue across all of medical cannabis, and PharmaCannis ensures this with a tightly-controlled extraction process that mirrors a pharmaceutical lab.
PharmaCannis has over 250,000 square feet of processing and production space.
“We honor the culture that has come before us in the cannabis world, but we also recognize that it takes an additional level of sophistication to provide consistent patient outcomes,” says Unruh. According to the New York Post: “The entire facility runs like a lab operated by scientists like Mejias who have decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Pharmacannis has over 250,000 square feet of processing and production space. The magnitude of the production capacity, advanced technology used, and level of professionalism show a side of cannabis that many have never seen.
Giving tours of the production facility is Unruh’s favorite part of the job because “Nobody, and I mean nobody, leaves a PharmaCannis cultivation and processing center thinking the same way about the cannabis industry as when they entered.”
PharmaCannis labs are similar to those within a pharmaceutical company.
Currently, Pharmacannis has major capacity moving forward: “We can easily handle all the patients in New York state right now and for the foreseeable future,” says Unruh. Pharmacannis appears to be well on their way to reaching their goal of being a leader of medical cannabis in healthcare, and ready to face any challenges that lie ahead. Unruh looks towards the future,“We’ve come a long way, but we’re just getting started.”