Dr. Kyle Kingsley, MD, CEO of Empire State Health Solutions and Minnesota Medical Solutions
A Minnesota Medical Solutions dispensary storefront
What the New York-based companies, and ESHS in particular, will be dealing with is “pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based medications”; a concept that Dr. Kingsley is rather serious about.
“The patient will never see a plant. Patients are only going to receive very precise, formulated pharmaceutical products,” stated Dr. Kingsley. “Oils, liquid medicines, or pills. It’s very unsexy, very boring for medical cannabis.”
The procedure to make these medications is anything but simple, Kinglsey explained. Basically, after the plant has grown for three to four weeks, the “bud material” is harvested, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Through the use of super critical CO2 extraction—a process that runs pressurized carbon dioxide through the plant material—the meaningful compounds, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can be extracted and the unneeded components, like chlorophyll, left behind.
This guarantees that the medication patients are ingesting is exactly what was prescribed to them. CBD, a non-psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, is great for suppressing seizures or reducing nausea and vomiting, while THC is great for pain relief and appetite stimulation. Through ESHS’s scientific process, it becomes extremely possible to prescribe marijuana as a treatment for a wide range of medical issues, with little to no intoxicating effects.
“So, one of the things that makes physicians uncomfortable with cannabis as medicine is that it’s not precise,” said Dr. Kingsley. “We can make 5-milligram pills and have them actually be 5-milligram pills. Empire State’s goal is to become the medical cannabis producer that’s accepted by mainstream medicine.”
A Minnesota Medical Solutions front desk and consultation room
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In fact, the non-intoxicating nature of these medications lowers its value as a black market item, and subsequently decreases the possibility of a dispensary becoming the target of criminal activity.
Dr. Kingsley himself is a board-certified emergency medicine physician, only jumping into the world of medical marijuana 18 months ago.
“If you told me 24 months ago I’d be here, I’d say you’re smoking a lot of cannabis,” Dr. Kingsley quipped. “I thought it was just for recreational use. I thought that people just wanted to get high.”
Surprisingly, it was in the emergency department that he first realized the potential that medical cannabis has as a viable treatment for the intense and often disabling symptoms of HIV, cancer, and seizure disorders, and even as a replacement for pain medications, whose history in the United States is anything but bright.
Narcotics often make patients drowsy, dizzy, or nauseous. They are known to be extremely addictive. If you have never experienced the damage opiate dependency can cause a person and his or her loved ones, the statistics speak loudly enough. Even so, the total number of opiate medications prescribed in the United States has more than doubled in the past 25 years.
Perhaps making a change is difficult, when the only two options are pain or dependence. However, the contentious and long debated topic of medical marijuana may open the gates for a third option.
“There are undeniable studies out there that show [medical cannabis’] great potential, even when it comes to things like cancer,” said Dr. Kingsley. “So we need to explore this, it’s a very safe option, and I’m excited to be part of it. I think that it’s an accident of history that cannabis has been put where it is. But I think it’s a one-way street as far as the acceptance of this as medicine, especially as folks see the results.”