The Cost of Medication: The Nevada County Cannabis Alliance offers local supply chain relief

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Vials filled with cannabis extract are placed in a tray and can be packaged and sold.
Photo: Elias Funez

Casey Lennon of Emerald Bay Extracts in Nevada City stands in a room with finished and packaged products.
Photo: Elias Funez

Emerald Bay Extracts employees show a container of cannabis after it was processed and the cannabinoids extracted in their Nevada City laboratory last month.
Photo: Elias Funez

Some of the full-spectrum cannabis extracts from Emerald Bay Extracts are made specifically for certain pharmacies.
Photo: Elias Funez

Casey Lennon of Emerald Bay Extracts speaks in her Nevada City lab last month.
Photo: Elias Funez

Emerald Bay Extracts lab technicians are working to fill vials with full spectrum cannabis oil extracted through the lab’s processes.
Photo: Elias Funez

The staff at Emerald Bay Extracts will demonstrate the extraction process required to pull the cannabinoids out of the plant.
Photo: Elias Funez

Katrina Cable, consumer goods manager at Emerald Bay Extracts, worked in the Nevada City lab last month filling vials with cannabis extract.
Photo: Elias Funez

Casey Lennon from Emerald Bay Extracts.
Photo: Elias Funez

The Nevada County Cannabis Alliance has launched a Compassion Care program to provide accessible herbal medicine in the form of full-spectrum CBD cannabis products to critically ill patients in the area.

“This program is the first in the country where we – within our association, within our local supply chain – offer medicines grown, manufactured, sold, and tested here in Nevada County,” said Diana Gamzon, who Managing Director of Allianz. “Then it has to go through the local retailer to supply the people in the community with medicines. That is historical in and of itself. “

Gamzon said providing accessible, herbal medicine has been a priority for cannabis growers and Nevada County’s regulatory agency since the defeat of Measure W in 2016 – which, if passed, would have severely curbed growth. The passage of Senate Law 34 – the Compassion Law – in 2019 provided the necessary policies to ensure legality.

Wade Laughter is a medical cannabis educator who founded House of Harlequin. Laughter said that since legalization, cannabis products have been heavily taxed throughout the cultivation, production and distribution process.

“It allows the product to move through the supply chain tax-free,” Laugh said of Senate Bill 34.

Laughter said usually growers pay a cultivation tax on all products – flowers or trim – directly to the state. In addition, consumers pay a consumption tax at retailers.

“If I wanted to donate a pound of flower before SB 34, I would have to forego the cost of the flower, but I would have paid $ 130 a pound,” Laughter said. “The consumer has no idea what the retail tax is, he just pays for it.”

Laughter said Prop 215 allowed cannabis dealers to operate as collectives, which helped industrial corporations make drugs available to their members on a sliding scale.

“They were private membership organizations that were allowed to grow cannabis and distribute it among themselves,” said Laughter.

Laughter said when Prop 64 passed and legalized recreational marijuana use in 2016, state legislation actually banned the previous collective model.

“Now there were rules and regulations that shut the door to all old operators,” Laughter said, adding that members of the Caladrius’ own network in Nevada County have suffered the effects of legalization.

PLANTS POLICY

The Caladrius Network was started by Forrest Hurd, an unlikely cannabis lawyer and father. Hurd’s son Silas is 13 years old and has difficult-to-treat epilepsy caused by Lennox-Gestault syndrome.

“The reality was that I’m not a cannabis person at all,” said Hurd, “but the only people who helped me and saved my son’s life were demonized (pre-legalized).”

When Silas was 6 years old, doctors predicted he wouldn’t live more than a decade, Hurd said.

“Now he’s taking the same medication he was taking when we almost lost the battle against Measure W,” said Hurd, adding, “and he’s not only alive, he’s thriving too.”

Hurd said the Caladrius network relies on the generosity of CBD-oriented cultivators like Laughter, but the processing and distribution of the product is largely a one-man show.

“I worked for free, 100% volunteer, and looked after a high-need child 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Hurd. In addition to addressing critical patients, Hurd helped draft the Compassionate Act, originally rejected by former Governor Jerry Brown and passed by current Governor Gavin Newsom.

Hurd said he helped distribute $ 1.2 million to approximately 50 families between the Prop 64 and SB 34 passage.

“The network closed a very important void during this transition process when there was no legal path,” said Hurd.

SUSTAINABLE GIVING

Hurd said he was grateful that community stakeholders with for-profit capabilities are participating in a more sustainable model of giving.

“It shows how genuine and good-natured they are,” said Hurd.

Hurd said the integrity of the local cannabis industry shows in its continued concern for the seriously ill who have helped turn the public around on cannabis in the Nevada County community.

Gamzon said the cannabis entrepreneurs she advocates are driven by something that goes way beyond profit.

“This kind of generosity is what sets the cannabis industry apart,” Gamzon said.

Laughter said Hurd’s network lived on through the Compassion Care program.

“Now Forrest can point out Elevation (2477 ‘) to the patients who were in his collective. -‘ Here’s a similar product that we gave you, now you can get it, ‘” Laugh said.

Hurd did just that on Sunday when he was approached by a family with a son with uncontrollable seizures.

“You can’t afford the cost of the drug, it’s still very unaffordable,” said Hurd. “We put them on a list for Caladrius and get them the resources they need.”

LOCALIZED ANSWER

Sebastian Gotla is a board member of the Cannabis Alliance and a licensed farmer of Foothill River Farms.

Gotla said it was ironic and tragic that the founders of the medical cannabis community were disfellowshipped after recreational use was legalized.

“I wanted to try to give them back to recognize the work and dedication they have done for so long,” Gotla said. “The new Rec market doesn’t serve these particular people with specially formulated drugs. That was the first goal of the compassion program. “

As head of the Compassion program on behalf of Allianz, Gotla has focused on the logistics of moving products through the local supply chain – from the cultivator to the manufacturer to product testing and labeling and finally to transport to the retailers.

“The alliance is providing the logistics and supply chain management for local licensees to create a product that members of the Caladrius network can then obtain for free at Elevation (2477 ‘),” said Gotla.

Gotla and Gamzon find that Nevada County’s climate is ideal for growing CBD-dominant cannabis strains.

“Many of these specific strains have been administered by some local cannabis advocates here in Nevada County for more than a decade,” Gotla said.

RESEARCH REQUIRED

Casey Lennon, a former Stanford nurse who now owns and operates Emerald Bay Extracts, said her company is working with a farm or group of farmers willing to donate the materials.

Lennon said her company not only receives donations, but also provides a portion of its own profits to package products for recipients of the Compassion Care program.

According to Lennon, Emerald Bay Extracts worked with a network of established caregivers for children with epilepsy before becoming a pivotal part of Allianz’s most recent outreach project.

“We made a tincture for Nevada County,” Lennon explained. “It’s concentrated oil with no MCT oil or any other product.”

According to Lennon, the typical edible product contains 2 to 5 milligrams of concentrate, but the tincture it dispenses is “super concentrated” and medical grade – 850 milligrams.

Lennon said she works with cancer patients near Silicon Valley and noticed that many of them self-prescribed and bought black market cannabis to relieve their pain.

“There is a huge concentration of people who need the product but not sugar or steam,” Lennon said. “That was always the goal with this company.”

Lennon said many of the scientific nuances of the medical treatment of cannabis remain unknown, but Emerald Bay Extracts researches terpine profiles and collects customer reviews to better understand their product.

“We have cannabanoid receptors in our bodies and we know that and we know cannabis accepts that,” Lennon said. “Now we have to allow the research to take place and the patient experience to be legitimized.”

According to Lennon, her team is studying the terpinene, or flavor components in medicinal herbal products and patient experiences, to make informed recommendations.

“A real person we spoke to has a child with autism,” Lennon said. “We determine the terpine profile of the product and recommend specific strains that can help with behavior problems.”

Lennon said her concern for public health extends even to the agricultural dimension.

“We have a dozen or so farms that we continuously work with to ensure quality insurance, regenerative farming practices and no pesticides,” Lennon said. “By keeping the group of farmers smaller, we can continue to source certain varieties.”

Forrest Hurd said he expected a significant surge in interest after this affordable channel opened.

“The families in need are not necessarily cannabis people,” said Hurd. “They’re just scared and worried about their children – all the more demonstrating the need for charitable support.”

Rebecca O’Neil is an employee at The Union. She can be reached at roneil@theunion.com.