Last week, the Niagara Falls Reporter discussed the political challenges that Lewiston Greenhouse LLC, owned in part by the owners of Modern Disposal, had in winning one of five grower's licenses in New York to grow medical marijuana.
If the decision is based on merit, as opposed to back door dealing, Lewiston Greenhouse has an excellent chance.
Merit may play a larger role than previously expected due to a new culture of fear settling over Albany since the arrest of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and others by Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
There are several reasons why Lewiston Greenhouse will fare well in the category of merit.
For one, they have a state of the art growing facility- their 12 acre greenhouse in Lewiston.
Secondly, Lewiston Greenhouse has experience. They produce an annual crop of tomatoes that have won acclaim.
Thirdly Lewiston Greenhouse, backed by the owners of Modern, will be among the most financially stable. Modern is one of the largest disposal companies in the nation.
But perhaps the best, most compelling reason Lewiston Greenhouse should get one of five growers slots is because they have the license for New York State for the world's most famous strain of medical marijuana - Charlotte's Web.
Gov Andrew Cuomo made his law strict because he wanted to avoid the Colorado model where medical marijuana lead to recreational marijuana.
Charlotte's Web is not only the most famous strain of medical marijuana, it simply cannot be used for recreational purposes.
The plant is processed into a marijuana extract that does not induce the psychoactive "high" associated with recreational marijuana strains high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The content was measured at 0.3% THC so low it was classified "as a hemp-derived food product".
The name itself - the history of the strain - will give New York State instant credibility in the field of medical marijuana.
If one wanted to put the imprimatur on the New York program as being about medicine and not a doorway to recreational marijuana - support for the production and sale of Charlotte's Web is a natural.
Only Lewiston Greenhouse has the license for New York for Charlotte's Web.
The strain was named after Charlotte Figi, born October 18, 2006 , whose story led to her being described as "the girl who is changing medical marijuana laws across America."
It was developed in 2011 by the Stanley brothers (Joel, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Jared and Josh), by crossbreeding a strain of marijuana with industrial hemp.
|Charlotte Figi, before she was saved with medical marijuana.
It was originally called "Hippie's Disappointment", since it doesn't make its users high and was considered to likely be less profitable, with no value to traditional marijuana consumers in Colorado.
Lewiston Greenhouse LLC, if approved, will grow Charlotte's Web at their greenhouse and create the extract, a CBD rich oil extracted from the harvested plants and concentrated through rotary evaporation, on site.
The story of how the strain known as Hippies' Disappointment became Charlotte's Web is well known but bears retelling.
Charlotte Figi, born to Matt and Paige Figi was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome (severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy) when she was two years old.
She had seizures, which as she grew older, continued to get worse.
At one time doctors had her on seven drugs -- such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
They'd work for a while, but the seizures always came back.
"At 2, she really started to decline cognitively," Paige told CNN. "Whether it was the medicines or the seizures, it was happening, it was obvious. And she was slipping away."
When Charlotte was 2½, Matt, a Green Beret, decided to leave the military.
"Every mission, every training I was going to do I was called home because she was in the pediatric ICU again or in the hospital again."
Doctors suggested an experimental anti-seizure drug being used on dogs. They considered a drug from France.
Paige took Charlotte to Chicago to see a specialist, who put the child on a diet frequently used to treat epilepsy. The diet helped control Charlotte's seizures for a while but she suffered from bone loss. Her immune system weakened. Behavioral problems cropped up.
"At one point she was outside eating pine cones and stuff, all kinds of different things," Matt said.
Then the seizures came back.
Charlotte lost the ability to walk, talk and eat.
She was having 300 grand mal seizures a week.
Her heart stopped at home. Paige did cardiopulmonary resuscitation until the ambulance arrived.
By the time she was five, she was in a wheelchair, living at an end of life hospice, with feeding tubes, oxygen, and was seizing every thirty minutes.
Her parents signed a do-not-resuscitate order.
Doctors suggested putting Charlotte in a medically induced coma.
That's when Paige decided to try medical marijuana.
Finding two doctors to sign off on a medical marijuana card as required in Colorado was not easy. She was the youngest patient in the state to apply. But Dr. Margaret Gedde, and Dr. Alan Shackelford signed on.
As Dr. Shackelford said "There really weren't any steps they could take beyond what they had done. Everything had been tried -- except cannabis."
Paige heard about the Stanley brothers, one of the state's largest marijuana growers and dispensary owners, who were crossbreeding a strain of marijuana high in CBD and low in THC called "Hippies Disappointment".
Dr. Gedde found three to four milligrams of oil per pound of the girl's body weight stopped the seizures. Charlotte got a dose in her food or under her tongue.
Charlotte got instant relief.
By the time she was six her seizures only happened two to three times per month, in her sleep.
She started walking. She rode her bicycle. She fed herself and started talking more each day.
Seeing this miracle, the Stanley brothers changed the name from "Hippie's Disappointment" to "Charlotte's Web".
"I literally see Charlotte's brain making connections that haven't been made in years," Matt said at the time. "My thought now is, why were we the ones that had to go out and find this cure? This natural cure? How come a doctor didn't know about this? How come they didn't make me aware of this?"
"I didn't hear her laugh for six months," Paige said. "I didn't hear her voice at all, just her crying. I can't imagine that I would be watching her making these gains that she's making, doing the things that she's doing (without the medical marijuana). I don't take it for granted. Every day is a blessing."
Charlotte's story was featured on CNN documentaries and The Doctors TV show. An article in the National Journal detailing the role of several children as "uniquely powerful advocates for medicinal pot across the country" described Charlotte as the "first poster child for the issue."
Her story led to her being described as "the girl who is changing medical marijuana laws across America". "
Her story was featured in the August 11, 2013 CNN documentary "Weed", hosted by Sanjay Gupta, an American neurosurgeon best known as CNN's chief medical correspondent, hosting the network's weekend health program Sanjay Gupta, M.D.
Then Charlotte was featured in Gupta's March 11, 2014 CNN documentary "Weed 2: Cannabis Madness".
On October 6, 2014, The Doctors TV show again featured a story about Charlotte's Web. The physicians there called for a change of the Federal classification.
Sanjay Gupta expressed support for Charlotte's Web on The Doctors TV show.
On the October 17, 2014 episode of the ABC TV series The View, Paige Figi and Joel Stanley were interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg and Nicolle Wallace.
The CNN documentaries popularized Charlotte's Web as a possible treatment for epilepsy and other conditions.
And since Colorado legalized both the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana, many parents flocked there with their suffering children - in search of Charlotte's Web.
In November 2013, CBS Denver reported that "[t]here is now a growing community of 93 families with epileptic children using marijuana daily. Hundreds are on a waiting list and thousands are calling."
In October 2014, Time noted the Stanley brothers had a waiting list of "more than 12,000 families", "marijuana refugees", "part of a migration of families uprooting their lives and moving to Colorado, where the medicinal use of marijuana is permitted ... forced to flee states where cannabis is off limits."
In November 2014, Dav id Nutt mentioned Charlotte's Web in the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's Pharmaceutical Journal, where he appealed for "the UK government [to] act on evidence, allowing the use of medicinal cannabis and reducing barriers to its research"
The publicity associated with Charlotte's Web inspired legislative bills.
By 2014, legislative proposals in Utah, Arizona, New York, Washington State, Minnesota, and Florida are being considered, and even staunch opponents of medical marijuana now became willing to make an exception to allow the marijuana extract for medical treatment, to legalize marijuana oil as a treatment for children with epilepsy, made popular because of Charlottes' Web.
On March 20, 2014, the Florida House of Representatives Budget Committee passed the "so-called Charlotte's Web measure (CS/HB 843)" designed to limit prosecutors' ability to prosecute those in possession of low THC/high CBD marijuana.
Florida legislators passed a bill with bipartisan support legalizing the use of Charlotte's Web, and Governor Rick Scott signed the "Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act of 2014" (SB 1030) into law on June 6, 2014. The law is referred to as the "Charlotte's Web" law.
Federal action began on July 28, 2014 with the introduction of bill H.R.5226, "The Charlotte's Web Medical Hemp Act of 2014", which was sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pennsylvania. "The three-page bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act -- the federal law that criminalizes marijuana -- to exempt plants with an extremely low percentage of THC, the chemical that makes users high."
If passed by subcommittees, it will be considered by the full House of Representatives.
And in New York, it is expected that once Lewiston Greenhouse LLC gets a growers license, people on the waiting list in Colorado - people with children suffering from epilepsy and other ailments will come with their children to Lewiston where they will get the help they need.
Gary Smith, COO of Modern Disposal and a member of Lewiston Greenhouse LLC, had the foresight, the incredible foresight - before the New York law was even settled - before they knew what to expect from the strictest medical marijuana law in the country - to make the investment and secure the rights to the strain and its name - Charlotte's Web.
The flowers of this strain have a fresh pine aroma.
Some are picturing the medicinal plant growing here in Lewiston, filling the air with its fragrance, fragrance that others have described as the scent of hope.
|Will Lewiston Greenhouse LLC grow Charlotte's Web in New York?