Last year’s inaugural World Medical Cannabis Conference carried an air of anticipation.
At the time, Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program was just taking its first steps. Regulations were still being worked out, no permits for growing or dispensing had been issued yet and the first patient transaction was 11 months away.
This year, the atmosphere at three-day conference at the David L. Lawrence Conference Center is all business, with vendor interest and sponsorships well up, and organizers point to the successful launch of the state program as a big reason why.
“We expected it to be up and running but in terms of capacity and numbers, we’re way ahead of where we expected to be,” said physician Bryan Donor, who is chief medical officer and co-founder of Compassionate Certification Centers, which hosts the annual conference.
That growth is being reflected in conference attendance, expected to attract 5,000 attendees -— 2,000 more than last year — as well as at the certification centers.
Currently with three local locations plus one in the Harrisburg and 6-8 more in the plans, Compassionate Certification Centers evaluate and certify patients who have one of 17 qualifying medical conditions so they can buy medical marijuana.
Without touching the product — and having to deal with the associated restrictions, regulations or insurance forms — the organization has certified 2,000 or so patients since opening its doors in December. Charging $199 per patient, that’s nearly $400,000 in revenue.
The numbers for nearly all cannabis-related businesses seem destined to grow, as demand has shot up faster than cultivators can harvest product.
State officials say nearly 28,000 patients have registered to participate so far and more than 10,000 have an identification card that allows them to purchase oils, pills, tinctures and other processed forms of marijuana.
And that demand has fostered a wellspring of ancillary businesses, many operating booths at this week’s conference. Rather than tie-dyed shirts and glass pipes, the majority of these vendors are business consultants, security experts, insurance companies, law firms and technology expertise.
One attendee taking in the offerings was Lorrie Callahan, 41, of Dayton, Ohio. That state has passed a medical marijuana program, too, though the first dispensary transactions are still a few months away.
Ms. Callahan said she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 10 years ago, which has affected her balance and causes a daily pain on her right side. “Multiple sclerosis is very unpredictable. Some days I would wake up and I could not move my right leg. I couldn’t walk.”
She’s used marijuana recreationally for years, she said, but it wasn’t until she tried cannabis oil at a medical marijuana expo that she found relief. “It instantly took my pain away,” she said. “My pain was an eight on a 10-point scale every day and now it’s down to two.”
Seeing what Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program offers, she’s excited about Ohio doing the same.
“There are so many multiple sclerosis patients in Ohio that need this,” she said. “Today was a real eye-opener for me.”
Source: Steve Twedt, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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