Medical Marijuana: A Budding Business
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Medical Marijuana: A Budding Business
Posted by CN Staff on August 17, 2009 at 04:41:22 PT
By Phaedra Haywood, The New Mexican
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
New Mexico -- A longtime Santa Fe resident has applied to be the second medical marijuana provider in the state. If approved, he'll operate a 2,400-square-foot indoor growing operation somewhere in Santa Fe County and deliver marijuana to the doorsteps of registered patients. Len Goodman, 66, came to New Mexico from Pittsburgh more than 40 years ago. He was one of the original members of the New Buffalo commune near Taos.
He smoked pot recreationally then, but after spending only one summer on the commune, Goodman said, he traded in his hippie lifestyle to pursue spiritual interests. In 1972, Goodman and his then wife opened the tile design business  Arius Tile Co.  that he still owns and operates in Santa Fe. He gave up smoking until recently, he said, when he got approval from the state to use marijuana to treat the post-traumatic stress disorder he acquired after a serious car accident in 1992. 'Creative Project'  Goodman said it makes no sense to him that marijuana is criminalized while tobacco, booze and other narcotics are legal. But he said he never considered becoming a certified provider until he saw a news article about New Mexico's nascent medical pot program. "My business brain started clicking away," he said. "I thought this would be a fun business. This would be brand new. How would you handle security? You'd be growing a product. It seemed like a creative project." Goodman decided in May that he would apply to become a provider. The first step was to assemble a board that included patients and a medical professional, as required by the state. That first step was easier said than done because confidentiality rules prohibit the Department of Health from releasing the names of patients approved to use marijuana as medicine, Goodman said. Goodman placed an ad on Craigslist seeking patients for his board. "I got a huge response," he said. "Then we started interviewing people. That was interesting." Goodman said he interviewed nearly 30 people to find the three patients he needed. During that process, he said, he realized there was a dire need for information on the part of potential patients. That sparked an idea from Goodman's life and business partner, Susan Smith. New Mexico's medical marijuana law works on a different model than those in other states such as California in that providers must be registered nonprofits. Smith said after hearing stories from so many ill people who needed help accessing doctors or paying for marijuana to treat their ailments, it dawned on her that besides providing high-grade marijuana, the nonprofit she and Goodman planned to start  which they've dubbed NewMexiCann  could serve as an information center and advocacy group for those who need help accessing marijuana as a medicine. One of the organization's main missions will be to serve as "the address" for medical-marijuana information. Their Web site will include the names of doctors, recipes for cooking with marijuana and information about the possible side effects of marijuana. Judith Roberts, a registered nurse who has worked at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center since 1986, will serve as the required medical professional on the nonprofit's board. She will screen studies and other technical information offered on the site.  Online Service  Joseph Keenan, 49, who is HIV positive, has agreed to sit on the board as a patient and act as NewMexiCann's communication director. Keenan said his own experiences using marijuana as medicine prompted his involvement. Keenan said he dropped 60 pounds after contracting the HIV virus in 1985. After his psychiatrist and doctor suggested he try smoking marijuana, he gained 40 pounds back. But, he said, getting the medicine he needed was a challenge. "I used to get it from a guy with a sawed-off shotgun and three attack dogs in his backyard," Keenan said. "It's not exactly like going to the pharmacy." Two other patients  HIV/AIDS prevention counselor Hank Tafoya and special-education teacher Kevin Hogan, both of Santa Fe, will also serve on the NewMexiCann board. If NewMexiCann is approved, the patient experience will be a much different one. Goodman said he plans to advertise the business in the local media, directing potential clients to the information Web site. Once the patients receive a diagnosis and certification from the state for the drug, Goodman said they will be given a password for a separate site where they can purchase pot online with a credit card or by mailing in a money order. The marijuana will be grown in a secret location, stored in a second secured area, then packaged in an office where a courier service would pick it up and deliver it directly to the patient's home. Keenan said the other existing provider requires buyers to meet in parking lots or other public places to receive their product. According to Goodman's application to the state, couriers would verify the identity of the recipient before handing over the drug.  Careful Screening  Goodman estimates it will cost him about $75,000 to secure the grow facility, warehouse, office and equipment that will be needed to begin production. Because the business must be nonprofit, he said, he can't recruit investors like other start-ups. Goodman said he, Smith and the other members of the eight-person board will be compensated for their time, but profits will go back into the resource Web site and/or helping patients. Goodman's approximately 100-page application to the state Department of Health includes details on nearly every aspect of his proposed business. Employees  who will need to pass background checks  will be trained in how to handle potential security breaches. During harvest times, "clippers" will be supervised at all times by the grow master and at least one corporate officer. The production facility will have an electronic alarm system installed with remote monitoring.  Cost and Quality  Two aspects of the operation that haven't been decided yet are the kinds of marijuana that will be grown and how much it will cost. State law will allow the production to grow a maximum of 95 marijuana plants in any given stage at any given time. Generally, Goodman said, he plans to offer three different types of marijuana, which he'll call NewMexiCann Green, NewMexiCann Red and NewMexiCann Salsa. The different flavors of bud will be crosses of two basic types of cannabis sativa and indica. According to Goodman's application, "The Sativa high is often characterized as uplifting and energetic." It's a more cerebral high, according to the literature, that imparts feelings of "optimism and well being" and provides a good measure of pain relief. Indica highs, according to Goodman's application, "are most often described as a pleasant body buzz," and are well suited for relaxation, stress relief and the treatment of insomnia. "Very pure Indica strains are very potent in THC and will cause the 'couch lock' effect enabling the patient to simply be still and relaxed," according to the document. State law requires medical marijuana be labeled with a strain name, but there is very little information about strains. One longtime grower, who asked that he not be named because of legal concerns, said there is not much consistency or quality control in strain naming because marijuana has been a black-market drug for so long. "I've never seen any type of registry keeping track of the names of the strains, the THC content, anything. It's just a free for all. Names are made up. There must be thousands of strains by now," he said. "People just crossing this and that." Local landscaper and Santa Fe native Carlos Gonzales, 43, and his wife, Jennifer Gonzales, 35, have signed on to act as the production directors for the operation. They'll also sit on the board. The Gonzaleses will oversee the grow operation and direct the activities of an as yet unnamed grower experienced in marijuana cultivation. Carlos Gonzales said he doesn't know yet what strains the operation will attempt to cultivate. A sample order form included in Goodman's application to the state references the street names White Widow and Purple Haze. Asked how he expected to find the strains and people with knowledge of marijuana cultivation, Goodman said, "I'm an old hippie, I live in Northern New Mexico. Do you have any idea how much marijuana is being grown in Northern New Mexico?" How much the product will cost is another question mark in Goodman's business plan. The only Department of Health regulation placed on the pricing of medical marijuana  which is aimed at preventing resale  is that providers cannot offer bulk discounts for buying more product. Other than that, Department of Health spokesman Chris Minnick said, "The cost will be set by the nonprofits. We expect they will keep the costs reasonable in order to help the people that need the medical cannabis." Goodman said pricing is not just a business decision, but a philosophical one as well. "A higher price model would create more disposable income to go back into the community," Goodman said. "A lower price model would create less but be more affordable." NewMexiCann will decide as a board how much to charge, Goodman said. The existing provider reportedly charges between $6 and $14 per gram, which is a range roughly on par with black-market prices. NewMexiCann's application has already been reviewed once by the Department of Health and returned for clarifications in several areas. Once DOH staff sign off on the application, it must be approved by department Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil.  What's Next  Goodman said once he is approved it will probably be three months before he'll have finished product ready for sale. According to Department of Health spokeswoman Deborah Busemeyer, the only existing medical marijuana provider in the state was approved in March and began offering product in July. Busemeyer said in an e-mail that the state hasn't decided how many providers will ultimately be approved but that the secretary will consistently assess the needs for medical marijuana in order to ensure that there "will be enough medical cannabis to supply our patients statewide without creating an excess of product."  Legal Use of Marijuana  In April 2007, New Mexico became the 12th state to pass a law allowing people suffering from certain diseases to legally use marijuana as medicine. There are now 13 states that sanction this use, though federal law still prohibits the use and possession of the herb. In New Mexico, those suffering from the following diseases are eligible to receive medical marijuana: Glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, spinal cord damage and intractable spasticity, HIV/AIDS, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea/vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease), severe chronic pain (this must be accompanied by two referrals, one from a primary care provider and a second from a specialist).  By The Numbers  6 ounces: The amount of marijuana certified patients can possess at any given time. 1: The number of certified providers approved to date by the Department of Health. 19: Number of other applicants that have applied to become certified providers. 556: Number of patients who have been approved for medical marijuana use. 109: Number of patients who have been approved to grow their own marijuana. 7: Number of certified patients who have died since the program began. 15: Number of qualifying conditions included in the state's Medical Cannibus Program. 75 pounds: The amount of marijuana Len Goodman estimates he'll be able to grow each year. Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)Author: Phaedra Haywood, The New MexicanPublished: August 16, 2009Copyright: 2009 The Santa Fe New MexicanContact: letters sfnewmexican.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #8 posted by freewillks on August 17, 2009 at 20:32:37 PT
Thanks Storm Crow
Thanks for the info
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #7 posted by Hope on August 17, 2009 at 12:44:35 PT
Ripit and Storm Crow.
Ripit, *smile*.Yes, you did.Good work, Storm Crow.What a treasure you and your work are to all of us.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #6 posted by ripit on August 17, 2009 at 11:27:40 PT
told ya!
she is quick too!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #5 posted by Hope on August 17, 2009 at 11:25:17 PT
Thank you, Storm Crow.
It's so nice having a resident expert on hand who can manuever the medical studies as well as you do.Way to go, Storm Crow. Thank you so much.
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Comment #4 posted by ripit on August 17, 2009 at 11:23:18 PT
ask granny!
 she always has everything i look for!
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #3 posted by FoM on August 17, 2009 at 11:13:06 PT
Storm Crow
Thank you. My husband said maybe Storm Crow will post info and you did. 
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Comment #2 posted by Storm Crow on August 17, 2009 at 11:10:55 PT
Hi Freewillks, 
The Use of Cannabis as a Mood Stabilizer in Bipolar Disorder: Anecdotal Evidence and the Need for Clinical Research 	Cannabinoids in bipolar affective disorder: a review and discussion of their therapeutic potential.,f1000m,isrctn	Cannabis in bipolar	Recipe For Trouble	The effect of extreme marijuana use on the long-term course of bipolar I illness: a single case study. are in my "Granny Storm Crow's list". Hope that these are helpful to you.
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Comment #1 posted by freewillks on August 17, 2009 at 08:16:22 PT
OT: Need info on Bipolar and cannabis research
I know that a few of you out there know of some good research and or studies on this topic. I am on a quest to learn more about the two. thanks in advance Freewill
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