DEA Destroyed Medical Cannabis

http://www.pharmaciststeve.com/?p=11197

When federal Drug Enforcement Agency agents visited a Santa Fe medical cannabis dispensary after an explosion last week, they seized what local police originally described as “evidence” for an investigation. SFR has since learned that the federal agency yanked all the marijuana plants that were growing there and hauled them away for destruction…

As investigators try to determine more details about what caused the explosion, suspected to have occurred during an extraction process at New MexiCann Natural Medicine’s compound on West San Mateo Lane, attorney Marc Lowry says the management and staff are more concerned about the health and recovery of Nick Montoya, 29, and Aaron Smith, 28, who received third-degree burns and remain hospitalized.

Yet the loss of the 150 plants—conservatively valued at $750,000—will impact New MexiCann’s fall harvest and ongoing operation…

In the meantime, SFR has also learned inspectors from the city’s fire marshal office visited New MexiCann’s facility after the producer filed a certificate of occupancy, but Fire Marshal Rey Gonzales Jr. says the gas extraction equipment was not in place during his team’s original site visit…

Meanwhile, Lowry says that Len Goodman, the founder of New MexiCann, is engaged in open dialog with all law enforcement and government agencies and is waiting to get a green light after the investigations are concluded before reopening his Santa Fe location.

Other state-licensed producers tell SFR they’re in discussions and plan to provide New MexiCann new plants so Goodman’s patients have a consistent supply of medication and he’s set back up in time to plant a new winter crop…

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/explosion-burns-two-santa-fe-pot-dispensary-employees/

New MexiCann is one of the largest dispensaries in New Mexico, and one of the few that are expanding.  New MexiCann’s owner has said in the past that this state doesn’t need additional dispensaries.  I wonder what he thinks now?  There’s been talk of shortages ever since the program began about 8 years ago, and the resulting shortages from this explosion will add to the problem.

Growing plants is a risky business.  There’s bugs, mold, weather, chemicals, bad seeds, and other things that can ruin your product.  (And there’s always the DEA.)  The small number of dispensaries in this state (and all the things that can go wrong) harms patients every day.

Explosion Burns Two Santa Fe Pot Dispensary Employees

http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-10696-explosion-burns-two-santa-fe-pot-dispensary-employees.html

Two parallel law enforcement investigations are under way this afternoon following Thursday’s fiery gas explosion that injured two employees at NewMexiCann Natural Medicine’s cannabis dispensary in Santa Fe.

Santa Fe Police tell SFR they are vigorously working to determine the cause of the explosion that left Nicholas Montoya and Aaron Smith, both in their 20s, with serious third degree burns. At noon, both men remain hospitalized after being airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital’s Level 1 Trauma Center last night. Montoya was listed in critical condition. Smith is listed in serious condition.

Police spokeswoman Lt. Andrea Dobyns tells SFR that investigators believe that butane gas was involved in the dangerous explosion, but it is still unclear what ignited the gas…

A dispensary worker who says he can’t comment turned away a line of cars at NewMexiCann’s closed facility on Friday afternoon, and patients reported that the nearby New Mexico Top Organics dispensary was crowded and running out of some supplies…

After 30 gas-related explosions in Colorado, regulators there imposed strict new extraction rules July 1. While licensed producers are allowed to safely manufacture the products via gas extraction, amateur patients who attempt to use hazardous gases in private homes could face felony charges.

Jason Marks, an attorney who represents multiple cannabis producers, says that rules governing New Mexico’s medical cannabis program don’t prohibit the gas extraction.

During a recent review of the program’s rules, Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward decided not to impose any new gas extraction restrictions. Ward’s spokesman, Kenny Vigil tells SFR he is not aware of any similar accidents at any other locations.

UPDATED: Sean R Waite, the special agent in charge of the DEA in New Mexico tells SFR the agency’s investigation is ongoing in cooperation with the US Attorney’s Office but the agency won’t comment about whether the evidence it seized includes medical cannabis products sold in the dispensary to qualified patients. While the federal government lists marijuana as an illegal controlled substance, the US Attorney General has previously told the DEA to stand down on medical cannabis producers as long as they follow state rules. 

All 50 States Ranked By The Cost Of Weed (Hint: Oregon Wins)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankbi/2015/05/12/the-most-and-least-expensive-states-to-buy-marijuana/

The map says the cost for an ounce in New Mexico is $286, “according to PriceOfWeed.com, a site where users can anonymously submit the cost of weed in their area purchased either from the black market or legally through a dispensary.”

I’d say that was closer to the underground market price.  For instance, New MexiCann’s price is $320 an ounce, and at Medzen, it’s $364.

This is why I couldn’t afford edibles

From today’s New MexiCann newsletter:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
Indica
Glutten Free
Deliciosous
30 mg – $5.25

Glutten (glutton) free, that’s hilarious. 🙂

High THC Capsules
mix oil / hybrid
100 mg per cap
2 caps per bag – $28

That’s $14.00 per pill, while a 10mg hydrocodone is $1.54 per pill, according to this link.  But with insurance, I got 180 pills per month for about a $10 copayment (that’s 5 cents per pill).

http://www.drugs.com/price-guide/acetaminophen-hydrocodone

You’d think if the federal government was really concerned about the opioid “epidemic,” prescription medications wouldn’t be so cheap and medical cannabis would be covered by insurance.

Bud sale!

From today’s New MexiCann newsletter:

***$10 grams***

CBD AK47 Flower

THC/THCA 13.4% , 8.2% CBD/CBG

CBD Hula Buddha

THC/THCA 5.7%, CBD/CBG 10.6%

I have noticed that dispensaries in New Mexico only have sales on high-CBD strains.  And I have to wonder why that is…  Obviously, these weak strains aren’t as popular. While $10 a gram is a good price, how many patients does this sale help?

“How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?”

This song (Dear Mr. President by Pink) is dedicated to the members of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis program — patients, patient associations, producers and dispensaries, doctors, and the Department of Health.  And to the New Mexico State Medical Board and every politician in this state.

While all of you enjoy your holiday weekend, take a moment to think about those who can’t afford this program and have to suffer, and suffer, and suffer, without any pain relief.

“How do you walk with your head held high?  Can you even look me in the eye?”

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/how-do-you-sleep-while-the-rest-of-us-cry/

THC and THCA

http://hightimes.com/read/lab-testing-debunked-thca-vs-thc

The subject of this issue is Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), which occurs naturally in the plant. THCA needs to be heated so it changes into THC, the active form that gets you high. All cannabinoids occur naturally in their acid forms, that’s just how their enzymes make them. The difference between THCA and THC is a carboxy group. Upon smoking, cooking or vaping heat gets rid of the carboxy so THCA gives off CO2, loosing about 12 percent of its weight in the process.

Why does this matter for lab testing? Because THCA is heavier than THC, and lab results are given in mass percent.

The root of the confusion is the fact that different lab techniques give inherently different potency values. Depending on the lab, the analysis machine might use one of two separation methods: gas chromatography (GC) or liquid chromatography (LC).

GC uses temperatures high enough to completely decarboxylate all the cannabinoids in the mixture. This means GC does the decarboxylation for you, giving you only one reading for THC.

This makes GC useless for testing edibles because you need to be able to tell the difference between inactive THCA and active THC…

Stuff like this is confusing to me, and I don’t pretend to understand it all.  There’s a New Mexican dispensary that combines both THC and THCA results in one listed percentage, which if I understand it correctly, is not how to determine the THC value in bud.  And yet, New Mexicann is the only dispensary to carry the Americans for Safe Access PFC label, which makes it even more confusing.  For more info:

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/americans-for-safe-access/

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/my-review-for-new-mexicann-3262014/

Do NM Cannabis Producers Support Mandatory Testing for Medical Cannabis?

Wow, to get actual responses from producers… that’s amazing.  I wonder who I have to sleep with to deserve the same kind of treatment?

http://cannagramma.com/2015/03/10/do-nm-cannabis-producers-support-mandatory-testing-for-medical-cannabis/

Under comments:

March 18, 2015
WILLIAM FORD said:

I think it is wrong to assume that because we did not respond to your generic solicitation that we are against testing. Many producers understand the importance of testing and look to our state regulators to create an environment where testing will be available, affordable and mandatory. That environment does not exist now and we have been advised by the DOH and MCP not to test our products with unapproved laboratories. Perhaps a better use of your time may be to put political pressure on the DOH and MCP to test through the state labs. We, as producers, could subsidize the cost and patients would reap the benefits. I founded your organization – the NM Medical Cannabis Patients Alliance and funded it’s inception in order to create a political arm for the patients to express their wants and needs to the government – not so that you could waste your time polling the producers as to how we feel – how we feel is unimportant – how we are regulated is what matters.

William Ford, Executive Director
R. Greenleaf Organics, Inc
Medzen Services, Inc.
Healthy Education Society

Since SWOP mentioned in their response that they use the state lab at NMSU, I don’t understand why the Department of Health has to mandate this option for R. Greenleaf to take advantage of it.  Mr. Ford, are you trying to distract us from the issue at hand?

On the other hand, there’s the NMMCPA — a so-called patient’s alliance — that is pushing for testing, which will undoubtedly raise the price of the medicine, especially with the smaller producers.  You see, the members of SWOP, a small producer, are part of the NMMCPA…

And SWOP believes in 100% testing — whatever that means — and their prices reflect that extra expense.  SWOP has some of the highest prices in the state, if not the highest.  And if you’re a patient who can afford to pay those prices, I guess that’s great.

As for the tone of Mr. Ford’s response, well, perhaps he’s having a bad day.  Any producer who believes that exercises like this are a waste of time must have something to hide.  (Hence, the distraction.)  Aren’t the concerns and questions of patients important, Mr. Ford?  (Don’t worry, I don’t expect a response.)

I guess transparency isn’t important to the big players in this state’s medical cannabis industry — that’s why there’s no push to publish producer’s accounting records.  I mean, wouldn’t you like to know why your medicine costs so much?

The little information provided by the DOH every quarter doesn’t tell patients much, so perhaps it’s time for the NMMCPA to push for publicizing the accounting records from dispensaries.  Let patients really see what’s going on.  Maybe secrecy was important when this program started, but really, what’s the point of it now?

And for a patient’s organization, the NMMCPA certainly has made a mess of things.  Their members are in the middle of this new lawsuit against the DOH, by 19 of the 23 producers.  It will be interesting to see which producers didn’t join in the lawsuit and their reasons for not doing so. Unfortunately, the media coverage for this state’s program is almost nonexistent.  Which is why patients have to do so much research and make extreme efforts to navigate this expensive, exclusive, and secretive program.

It’s been almost a year since I was unable to renew because of the expense (and stress), and it’s taken all that time for the DOH to finalize the new regulations.  Now comes this lawsuit… just one of many that have been filed against the DOH regarding the Medical Cannabis Program.

I’m not sure how a lawsuit will change the fact that Retta Ward from the DOH gets the final say on everything to do with this program. The work that the Medical Board performs for the program doesn’t appear to affect the decisions Ms. Ward has made, and neither does all the negative responses from patients to the rule changes.

The whole business, the public hearings and comments, the set-up and procedures, the secrecy and lack of transparency, the cost — it all adds up to a program that doesn’t work for a lot of really sick people.  How many patients have died waiting for the ability to join the Medical Cannabis Program?  Do you know how expensive it is to obtain the records needed to qualify under “severe chronic pain”?  Do you know how many patients don’t qualify because they suffer from a mental disability?

The answer is to stop fighting over this program — the answer is to legalize.  Or alternatively, keep calm and move to Colorado.

New MexiCann’s Newsletter (3/15/2015)

As you may have heard R.Greenleaf has suspended their delivery system. It was a quality service and it is unfortunate that it has stopped running. New MexiCann is going to do it’s best to continue delivering to our rural patients. New MexiCann is hiring a driver to deliver to the Southeast part of the state the first weekend of every month. This is the same service that has always been there, but now the driver is a New MexiCann driver and not an R.Greenleaf driver. We may be able to implement other routes over time, but for now all other parts of the state will need to be accessible for Hot Shots Service deliveries…

We now have two Nurse Practitioners scheduled to see Patients at the Taos Store.  Naomi has been seeing Patients 1 day a month at our Santa Fe store for the past several years and has agreed to come to Taos and do the same. She will be in Taos on April 16 and again on May 21. She can re-certify for all conditions and offer new certifications for most.

Lori is new to New MexiCann. She is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner so she can not only re-certify, but she can recommend initially for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She will be at the store on April 3 & 4 but those days are already completely booked. She will be back again on April 17 & 18. She works with Psychiatrist Dr. Florian Birkmayer who many saw on the three days he was at the store seeing Patients.

Call the Taos store to schedule and get info on what you may need to bring with you for your recommending doctor’s visit.  Just to be clear, these practitioners do not work for New MexiCann and we receive nothing from them…

Two more counties without legal Cannabis distribution are about to have their own New MexiCann stores. Our Española store will be right on the main drag, N. Riverside Drive and our Las Vegas store will be on 7th and Mills…

Newsletter

Musings of New MexiCann’s Executive Director…

New Patients in Taos?

Yes, yes, yes. New MexiCann is reaching out to certifying practitioners to see Patients at our stores. We are making space and resources available at no charge to any MDs or Nurse Practitioners who will help those in need of Medical Cannabis to get initial certifications and renewals. We also hope to extend this offer to alternative practitioners who can help our Patients achieve greater wellness. We have no control over what these practitioners charge (and we make nothing from this), but we do encourage compassion and ask that the financial reality of most of our Patients be recognized.

A friend of ours, a psychiatrist in Albuquerque who also has a home in Taos, will begin seeing potential Patients for initial certifications and current Patients for [annual] renewals on February 28. He will also be at our store on March 7 and 21. His fees will be $200 for anyone not currently enrolled in the Medical Cannabis Program and $100 for Patients currently enrolled seeking re-certification…

Since we opened in Taos last weekend, some 20 folks have already decided to become Medical Cannabis Patients and have scheduled appointments. Space is very limited. Call Roni at the store, 575-201-2457 to discuss scheduling.

Population of Taos:  5,716 (2010)

Chronic Pain will no longer require two PR practitioners and a specialist is only required for the initial certification. This brings all Qualifying Conditions to equal status – 1 practitioner and a specialist only being needed for the original diagnosis. This will reduce costs and scheduling barriers and make renewals much much easier and simpler from many conditions. Many of our Patients have both Chronic Pain and PTSD but chose to qualify under PTSD since it only needed a single practitioner’s signature.

I just don’t understand why there’s never any mention of the rule for how old your medical records can be.  Last I heard, if your MRIs and X-rays were over 5 years old, you were required to have them redone, especially if you’re a chronic pain patient.

And as long as Dr. Rosenberg at the DOH has the final say in who can join the Medical Cannabis Program, there will continue to be problems with access.

Testing for Health and Safety and for Cannabinoid Quantification will be mandatory for all Cannabis and Cannabis Infused Products. We still need labs to do this, but once those are here, Patients will be able to be certain of their Medicine’s safety, potency and content.

Testing is mandatory, but… not now, and not for awhile.

Susan and I are heading to India on Monday. I will be gone for two weeks and will miss writing this column for the weeks of March 1 and March 8. We will be spending the Holi Festival in the Himalayan Hills in the very small village and farm of our good friend Prem Matiyani. Namaste!

Be Well, Be Blessed, Be a Blessing for Others,
Len Goodman
Executive Director, New MexiCann Natural Medicine

New Medical Marijuana Rules Adopted

http://www.sfreporter.com/santafe/article-9982-new-medical-marijuana-rules-adopted.html?utm_content=buffer78f8c&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The average price for a gram of pot is $10…

Liar, liar, pants on fire…  That’s not the average price here in New Mexico — but sure, if you wanna dream, I can’t stop you.

Optimistic about his [David Romero White’s] chances to be licensed this time, he says, “This is definitely a huge step in the right direction. We all can now breathe a collective sigh of relief and move forward,” he says…

You breathe a sigh of relief Mr. White, while I sit here IN PAIN, unable to afford the renewal costs.

And if you rent your living space, you’ll need to get your landlord’s approval…

In most cases, that’s just not going to happen.  And I think the Department of Health knows that. This agency is working very hard to get smoking restricted in more places than it already is, including apartments.  And since most medical cannabis patients smoke their bud, the DOH is actually working against this program.

In conclusion, the new rules benefit producers, not patients.  But then, I’m not surprised.

Well, Mr. White (and his cohorts in the NMMCPA) must be pretty happy about this news.  Good for them.

Warning: Advertising Can Cause Confusion (And Higher Prices)

You know how some bottles of Dawn dishwashing soap have a picture of a bird covered in oil being washed?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127999735

6/22/2010, Why Dawn Is The Bird Cleaner Of Choice In Oil Spills

When asked whether they have to use Dawn, Nevill replies, “Dawn definitely works the best. It very effectively removes grease but does not cause harm to the skin of the birds.”

What the company doesn’t advertise — and these days is reluctant to admit — is that the grease-cutting part of the potion is made from petroleum…

I have to admit that the oily bird is one of the reasons I buy Dawn.  However, I thought that part of the purchase price of a bottle of Dawn was donated to wildlife groups — see, there’s a picture right on the front!  But you have to read and understand the fine print to realize that’s not true.

But that’s not the only reason I buy this product.  I’ve tried cheaper dishwashing soaps, but a little Dawn goes a long way, especially in hard water. I know this product is more expensive, but I’m willing to pay a little extra, you know, to help save the birds.  And because it works.

Many products on the market today have labels that are confusing, like the one pictured above. It takes time and effort to understand what these labels really stand for…

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/my-review-for-new-mexicann-3262014/

https://painkills2.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/americans-for-safe-access/

New MexiCann advertises that they are “The Only NM Producer with National ASA Patient Focused Certification.”  So, what does that mean?  Right now, not much.  Although I assume that in the future, it may mean that the price of your medicine has been increased to cover the cost of a dispensary sporting this label.

Considering the prices in New Mexico are already too high (and that dispensaries are also looking at increased costs due to the most recent rule changes), I also assume that when other dispensaries begin to adopt this certification, the prices will increase even further. You can compare prices in Colorado (a state that already has many of these regulations) to those in New Mexico to know that prices are too high in this state (for various reasons).

The medical cannabis experience is not the same as when patients take prescription drugs, a market that’s been regulated for a very (very) long time.  Patients have to educate themselves so that they know when they are being hoodwinked, especially when it comes to quality and price.  How many patients will do the research?  Or will they just accept what they see on the label?

And I don’t think it’s fair that New MexiCann has this advantage over the other dispensaries in New Mexico — because advertising labels like this work, but are expensive to purchase, license, and renew.  Not a problem for New MexiCann, the largest, most powerful, most connected, and one of the first dispensaries here in New Mexico.

I think legalization is the only way to make (uninsured) prices come down, which would be the best thing for all patients in any medical cannabis program.  So, I’m always wondering who is for legalization and who is against, and the reasons for their beliefs.  And I have a feeling that when it comes down to it, there will be some dispensaries who will keep fighting against legalization to protect their own territories.

Organtica vs. New MexiCann

http://medicalmarijuanaradio.com/mmjradio-01-24-2015-s6e04-new-mexico-medical-cannabis-program-discussion/

It appears that New MexiCann is being allowed to expand its operation before those like Organtica, who have been waiting for years for the Department of Health to add producers. And what do you know, New MexiCann snatched up the well-to-do area of Taos — which was Organtica’s first choice for a new location.  Considering the DOH’s tight reigns on this program, it is extremely doubtful that the agency will allow another dispensary to be licensed in Taos.

I don’t think it’s fair for the DOH to give economic deference to New MexiCann, no matter how much power and influence this producer has — but now I totally understand everything that Len Goodman has been saying recently, since he cozied up to the DOH.

Mr. Goodman has strong connections to Americans for Safe Access, a group that I believe is working against marijuana legalization, while putting on a front that it’s working for patients.  Of course, both of these parties are reaping the economic benefits of the medical cannabis industry, while producers like Organtica are made to sit on the sidelines.

I freely admit to a negative bias against New MexiCann due to my past experiences with this dispensary, so maybe I’m looking at this situation in the wrong way.  There are hundreds of patients who are more than happy with New MexiCann, so maybe it’s a good idea for this producer to expand (not only to Taos, but other areas too).  And I guess good ideas don’t have to be fair and impartial…

The shortage has ended!

From New MexiCann newsletter of 1/11/2015:

“Those times have now changed.  The Dept. no longer requires advance orders and with increased production, the shortage has ended.” Len Goodman

Now that the shortages are over, how come the price hasn’t dropped?

If you are a medical cannabis patient in New Mexico and are still experiencing shortages and difficulties in finding your medicine, better speak up.  Otherwise, we all have to take the word of Mr. Goodman that the shortages are over.

Americans for Safe Access

http://forum.nmcannabisreview.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=221

Tue, Jun 17, 2014 8:42 am

From: Painkills2
To: info@safeaccess.org
Cc: medical.cannabis medical.cannabis@state.nm.us, assistance assistance@buddinghope.org, support support@cannaceutics.org, infoinfo@cgcorrigan.org, customerservice customerservice@compassionatedistributors.com, fruitoftheearthorganics fruitoftheearthorganics@gmail.com, gggi gggi@gandggeneticsinc.org, info info@grrx.org, nmhealthyeducation nmhealthyeducation@gmail.com, order order@highdesertrelief.org, contactus contactus@medzen.info, info info@mjexpresso.com, info info@motherearthherbs.org, info info@minervacanna.com, infoinfo@naturalrxnm.org, len len@newmexicann.org, nmaltcare nmaltcare@gmail.com, info info@nmtoporganics.org, info info@redbarngrowers.com, info info@rgreenleaf.com, admin admin@sacredgardennm.com, info info@sandiabotanicals.com, info info@swopnm.com, infoinfo@verdesfoundation.org, Jeremy Jeremy@medplantsolutions.com

Dear Americans for Safe Access:

I have read ASA’s notice regarding its PFC program, and I have a question regarding “manufacturing, packaging, and labeling,” which I understand is part of the certification.

New MexiCann is the first dispensary in New Mexico that has been certified in ASA’s PFC program. And yet, the way that their products are labeled is causing confusion. Specifically, when listing THC percentages, New MexiCann combines both THC and THCA results, along with grouping CBD/CBGs in one listed percentage. These discrepancies are somewhat due to the difference between what the product tests at for dry weight, compared to actual weight. In an attempt to make it easier for other patients to gauge products in New Mexico, I have advised patients to deduct 1 to 2 percentage points from any product’s reported THC levels.

If ASA has developed rules for labeling THC, I would appreciate your sending me that information.

I am also curious about how the PFC program will bring consistency into this product market, considering I have found significant differences in THC levels for the same strain/product over time.

I would also appreciate knowing ASA’s involvement in the newly proposed rules by the New Mexico Department of Health.

Thank you,

(also posted at nmcannabisreview.com)

_____

Re: Americans for Safe Access
Postby Painkills2 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:13 am

No response (yet) from the ASA to the above email — not even a confirmation of receipt.

And I don’t know why I keep trying to get help from these “activist” groups… When does disappointment after disappointment turn into just giving up? I’d say, right about now.