A dispensary in the Hudson Valley is offering patients a new form of medical marijuana — the first raw cannabis product to be offered in New York.
Dr. Stacia Woodcock is assistant director of operations at Curaleaf New York.
“This is the first actual flower-based medical cannabis product available in New York. So we’re the first dispensary that’s been able to bring this to market,” Woodcock says. “And that’s important for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s cannabis in its most natural form, so minimal processing. All of the terpenes and cannabinoids are still intact. It’s the actual plant material, but it’s still processed in a way so it’s free of any pesticides or contaminants, so it’s safe for the patient.”
The ground flower pods were first sold in Curaleaf’s Long Island dispensary, and are now available at the Newburgh location. Woodcock says the ground flower is cost effective.
“So when we look at the ground flower, patients are receiving 700 milligrams of active cannabinoids for a cost of $55. And so that’s almost double the amount the cannabinoids they would be able to get from an average vape pen that would cost anywhere from $55-$80, depending on what percentage it is,” says Woodcock. “So it’s a pretty significant cost difference and the amount of cannabinoids that they are able to receive for the price.”
With an epidemic of vaping-related illnesses across the country, the state Department of Health urges all New Yorkers to stop using vape products until the definitive cause of reported vaping-associated lung illnesses nationwide can be better determined. Since the investigation into the illnesses began, there have been no reports of such illnesses associated with approved products in New York’s Medical Marijuana Program. Yet, out of an abundance of caution, as worded on the Department of Health’s web site, “we are also urging patients in the medical marijuana program to consult with their health care providers on potential alternatives to vaping products while the investigation continues.” Again, Woodcock.
“That’s sort of where the ground flower is such an advantage for patients because, up until now, the only option for a flower-based product was to obtain it illegally, whether it’s through the illicit market or travelling to a different state and transporting it illegally across state lines,” Woodcock says. “So this is the first opportunity for patients to have a safe, regulated flower-based product within the legal medical program.”
Current health concerns pertain mainly to handheld vape pens, which include excipients, or fillers. Curaleaf Ground Flower Pods can only be used in tabletop vaporizers, which are heated below combustion and do not require any additives or excipients. Therefore, patients are solely inhaling cannabis flower in its raw form. Curaleaf does offer a variety of vapes. Since the vaping epidemic came to light, Woodcock notices one difference among patients.
“I think patients are asking a lot of questions, and once we explain the difference between the illicit vapes and the harmful substances that are put in them and the way that the medical cannabis vapes are regulated and what we don’t put in them, they find it very reassuring and that’s part of the trust that we establish with our patients,” says Woodcock. “So, really, once we have that conversation they seem very confident to move forward with their medication if that’s the dosage form that works best for them.”
Meantime, Woodcock says another new product is in the works.
“We’re also in the process of rolling out a chewable form of medication, our Curachews,” says Woodcock. “So we have those in formulation now that we’re working on bringing to market.”
The ground flower pods will soon be available in Curaleaf’s other New York locations: Plattsburgh and Queens.