Via lohud: As a skunky smell wafted in the air, rows of tall, green marijuana plants stood at attention in nearby growing rooms.
Mark June-Wells quickly dispelled the assumption. The pungent odor really came from mason jars filled with waxy brown substances inside the laboratory, he said, and not from the leafy plants budding flowers at one of Connecticut’s medical cannabis facilities.
June-Wells, lead scientist at CT Pharmaceutical Solutions, then held up another jar filled with a thick black goo resembling molasses. All of the oils and waxes, including the smelly ones, had been extracted from marijuana plants to treat patients with a range of serious illnesses. One jar, for instance, contained enough medicine to cover a cancer patient’s entire year.
With medical marijuana business poised to open in New York, The Journal News toured a functioning growing operation to glean a glimpse into what lay ahead for the Empire State. June-Wells, a plant ecologist with a Ph.D. from Rutgers University, reeled off these and other details about the cannabis operation just north of Middletown. The building is essentially a mix of an office, laboratory and warehouse, including an indoor marijuana grow operation.
Business leaders, doctors and scientists promoting improved medical marijuana studies describe their push as a battle against the “Wild West” approach in states legalizing the drug for recreational use.
Marijuana businesses’ liabilities have also kept many hospitals and universities from participating in research, although some studies into the medicinal uses are starting to gain traction despite the uncertainties. Some federal lawmakers are also pushing legislation seeking to reclassify medical marijuana to improve patient access and research.
CT Pharmaceutical Solutions is one of Connecticut’s four medical marijuana manufacturing facilities, which the state approved last year. New York approved five manufacturing companies last month, and they are expected to start supplying patients with the drug by January 1, 2016.
Addressing his plans to partner with hospitals and universities in New York to promote marijuana studies, Dr. Kyle Kingsley said it differed from the “Wild West system of legalization in California and Colorado.” Kingsley, chief executive officer of Empire State Health Solutions, one of the medical cannabis companies licensed to operate in New York, is also promoting efforts to expand research.
Amid that politically charged climate, New York’s law is arguably the most stringent in terms of patient access. Among other factors, the law bans smokeable versions of the drug. Patients are essentially restricted to using cannabis-based oils, vapors and pills. Patient advocate groups are calling for expanding the list of eligible diseases in New York, as well as the forms of cannabis-based drugs available.
Cancer and AIDS patients are using it for pain relief and appetite stimulation. Marijuana is also being used to reduce seizures among epileptics. The growing list of potential uses touches on a range of issues, such as the importance of limiting psychoactive properties to increase medical benefits.