By Richard S. Guppe / Elevate Nevada

Published on March 7, 2017

The old axiom of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” best describes Duke Rodriguez’s vision for the future of medical cannabis. The president and CEO of Ultra Health, the largest cannabis operation in New Mexico, is utilizing long accepted delivery systems used by pharmaceutical companies and applying them to medical cannabis in his latest venture he says also will land in Nevada.

Rodriguez is partnering with an Israeli pharmaceutical company to provide the manufacturing and the research to showcase a new line of products debuting first in New Mexico, his base of operations. Israel is recognized as a key contributor of cannabis-related research while the U.S. allows only government-funded studies so it makes sense for Rodriguez to ally with progressive leaders in the cannabis field.

Rodriguez believes the key to mainstream acceptance is coat-tailing Big Pharma while bringing along solid research from Panaxia Ltd, a pro-cannabis pharmaceutical company based in Israel. “Since we established Panaxia in 2010, we constantly strive to bring the strictest protocols and most advanced technology available in the pharma industry to the production of our cannabis-based products. We believe that medical cannabis products should be developed and manufactured under the highest standards and quality assurance levels like any other pharmaceutical product,” explained Dr. Dadi Segal of Panaxia.

Following a 14-month negotiation and due diligence process between the two companies, Panaxia will be providing smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols not readily available in the United States. The partnership will allow Ultra Health to manufacture product delivery systems that include tablets, suppositories and inhalers.

“It’s not ‘smoke two joints and call me in the morning’,” Rodriguez told elevate of the pharmaceutical-like products. “They look and feel and perform like normal products with less toxicity and side effects. They have been created in low production volume (in New Mexico) and will be more widely distributed in the middle of March.”

Beneficial to chronic conditions requiring ongoing dosing such as PTSD, chronic pain, cancers, neuropathy pain, epilepsy, anorexia, and HIV/AIDS, the new smokeless-designed cannabis products will provide better delivery systems for patients and physicians with regard to both safety and dosage.

“For the popularity to take root, you are going to have to be dose-specific and pharmaceutical,” Rodriguez explained. “Pharmacies will expect products more traditional. This will be the direction this is going.”

Ultra Health’s line of medical-grade cannabis products are exactly what pharmacies are used to and will include:

  • Sublingual tablets – sublingual tablets offer faster delivery as well as more efficient bioavailability compared to other smokeless ingestion. They are available in 5- and 10-milligram dosages in 30 count packets.
  • Rectal suppositories – suppositories allow for rapid absorption and less degradation of the product. This will be beneficial for patients vomiting or unable to swallow.
  • Vaginal suppositories – for topical, intravaginal delivery.
  • Oral spray inhalers – Inhalers are both convenient and deliver fast-acting relief. They provide a method of delivery that is dosage specific.

In addition to offering familiar delivery methods, Rodriguez said they will follow precise dosing methods, “When we say 10 milligrams of THC, we mean 10 milligrams of THC.”

The new products will also address the movement in certain states, such as New York, to require physicians to make dosage-specific recommendations.

“The use of medical cannabinoids to treat a number of illnesses requires advanced pharmaceutical-grade products,” Rodriguez said. “The further expansion of approved medical conditions will make the demand for the newly developed Panaxia products especially helpful in the treatment of anticipated conditions, including diabetes, which disproportionately effects New Mexico’s Native American and Hispanic populations, cardiovascular disease, opioid addiction and autism.” Rodriguez told elevate there are also future plans to develop a pill for Alzheimer’s patients.

Previous THC tablets offered by the pharmaceutical industry such as Marinol contain single-molecule synthetic offerings that medical cannabis advocates call limited and dangerous. Costs of synthetics are high and medical cannabis research suggests a full spectrum of cannabinoids is crucial to the healing process.

Rodriguez was in Las Vegas in February to speak to the Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Association and told industry participants there that recreational marijuana sales will not be the end of the medical side of the business. He also said that Nevada, with its stringent testing rules, will be a leader in the nation for how to run a program while supplying critical research to back up the claims that medical dispensing is a viable healthcare market. Research, credibility and delivery are keys to industry success, he said.

As for Ultra Health’s future in Nevada, Rodiguez said a lab will be replicated in the Las Vegas area. Nevada is a target state for Rodriguez due to its medical cannabis potential and in order to comply with state law that restricts the origin and testing of products sold in the Silver State. “A long as we have the prohibition of interstate commerce, we need a single lab in each state,” Rodriguez told elevate. “Until we develop a uniform cannabis act, we will have to be state specific.”

Even though state-specific operations are tedious, to be in multiple states is the best bet financially for cannabis businesses. It is estimated that the legal cannabis market will reach $21.8 billion in total annual sales by 2020, according to The State of Legal Marijuana Markets report compiled by Arcview Market Research last year. By comparison, at that point, the legal marijuana market could bring in more revenue than the National Football League, which produced $12 billion in 2015.

But it is not just cannabis’ potential for revenue, there’s also a growing need. “We have had numerous inquiries from dispensaries and major retail pharmacy outlets about having these products,” Rodriguez said. “It is important that we develop new products in anticipation of meeting the rapidly growing patient and provider demands.”

Considering how much Americans love taking pills, this is not just giving the people what they want but, more importantly, what they need.

The U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup Set for Saturday; Marijuana Tourists Welcomed

Stepping stone in elevating all adult use cannabis tourism, Cannabis Cup has a special impact on Las Vegas.

By Kat Thomas / Santa Monica Observer

Published on March 7, 2017

--In November of 2016, both Prop 64 and Prop 2 passed legalizing recreational marijuana in the states of California and Nevada.

--By the end of 2016 Los Angeles welcomed 47.3 million visitors to its sunny locale while Las Vegas had 42.9 million flock to Las Vegas.

A two months ago on January 1st, 2107, a man in black tactical-style gear and tarpaulins (one with a peace sign, one with a heart) altered the iconic Hollywood sign to read HollyWEED. One would think cities that welcome more tourists per year than the population of Canada would be chomping at the bit to become one of the country's cannabis destination.

But marijuana tourism infrastructure for the sixth largest economy in the world and Sin City takes much longer to implement than hanging a tarp over a sign.

As SoCal-Nevada tenderly enters the world of recreational marijuana we decided to interview a few cannabis experts on how two of the largest tourist cities in the United States can implement a strong visitor strategy.

Duke Rodriguez is the CEO and President of Ultra Health, which focuses on turnkey solutions provider for the specialty medical cannabis industry. Ultra Health currently has seven dispensary locations and one cultivation site in New Mexico, and is establishing more locations in Nevada. In Las Vegas, Ultra Health is partnering with HIGH TIMES for the U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup on March 4 and 5 hosted at the Moapa River Indian Reservation. The event, will kick off HIGH TIMES' 2017 Live & Legal Cannabis Experience Tour and will feature a live cannabis grow room, live trimming, a cannabis chef cooking competition, edibles seminars, product launches, musical acts and industry speakers.

Krista Whitley is the CEO of Social Media Unicorn is a cannabis brand exclusive full service marketing and sale agency that creates effective consumer experiences. With unicorns on the ground in Las Vegas, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Phoenix her company encompasses all aspects of marijuana branding, public relations, influence marketing, celebrity appearances, digital marketing, social media. Whitley's clients include Merry Jane, a cannabis media organization created by Snoop Dogg to share cannabis culture, Indus Holding Co, California's leading cannabis producer and distributor, and Tahoe Hydroponics, Nevada's award-winning cannabis cultivator located on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

Brannon Zimbelman is the CEO of The Travel Joint, the world's only cannabis travel and leisure site with 420-rentals, hotels, flights, dispensaries, tours, and events. The Travel Joint has become the Airbnb of the cannabis managing over 30 properties in states such as Colorado, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon along with crafting higher-end experiences such as a marijuana friendly cowboy ranch and roller skating disco parties in Las Vegas.

These are their thoughts on the future of cannabis as we enter the world of social use tourism...


Brannon Zimbelman of The Travel Joint: We think that California will be one of the largest Cannabis Tourism markets second only to Las Vegas.

Duke Rodriguez of Ultra Health: I generally like to avoid the reference of recreational use because it gives it a flippant kind of careless activity. There is no recreational alcohol. I do believe there is social use, which plays into the World Health Organization's definition of health as physical, mental and social wellbeing. If cannabis helps people of adult age perform better and gives them social competence, then that is great for them and their communities.

The cannabis adult use culture experience really started its path in Colorado and was eventually passed on to the state of Washington. Ultimately, it will be passed on to California where it will become the standard bearer of how cannabis will be treated in the country.

Krista Whitley of Social Media Unicorn: California is an interesting market to watch because they are the largest unregulated medical marijuana market in the United States. I think the greatest opportunity is for them to implement some of the best practices of established regulated medical marijuana markets as quickly as possible, so that they can build on those as they roll out regulated adult use throughout the state.

As the world's sixth largest economy it is not an easy challenge to implement the regulations that will keep all cannabis consumers safe while maintaining the authentic cannabis culture that California is known for. I see that by 2019 California will be a thriving cannabis economy, with the same innovative products cannabis consumers have come to love and additional safeguards that will ensure a healthy cannabis experience for everyone.

Brannon Zimbelman: We have extensive 420 rental properties around the country. When cannabis became recreationally legal in California we began focusing our travel destination energy in Los Angeles and Napa Valley. In the coming months we're launching two properties in Napa with 24 hour concierge service.

Duke Rodriguez: The California model will result in how the country will approach cannabis not only from a medical standpoint but from a social standpoint. California will probably be the first state to more progressively look at the open consumption of cannabis and will have more definitive standards in areas we have not defined well previously.

Packaging, for example. California will have to make sure it will not advocate for packaging that encourages underage individuals from buying cannabis and seeing it. Colorado started with the gummy bears, and it was cute but they started to realize it had complications. We don't need cannabis containers looking like PEZ dispensers to have a successful social program. California also has the opportunity to set up a model for the rest of the country to emulate because the state can learn from missteps Colorado has made in the past. Because of California's extensive industry, it will bring out more sophisticated and elegant packaging, designs, and products.


Duke Rodriguez: Outside of California, Nevada is likely to be the only state to really challenge the cannabis tourism category. This is especially true with the introduction of the U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup, being the first ever adult use Cannabis Cup as well as the first to be hosted by a Tribal Nation. Las Vegas has clearly established itself as an entertainment center, moving beyond adult entertainment to full family entertainment. I feel that the largest "California dispensary" is likely to be located in Las Vegas, and a good number of Californians will be securing their cannabis tourism experience in Las Vegas. In many ways due to proximity, Nevada and particularly Las Vegas will be an extension of the California cannabis tourism experience.

Krista Whitley: Nevada is home for me, so I know that I'm biased. Nevada has done an excellent job putting an effective regulated medical marijuana program in place that seeks to serve its' patients. Of course, the recent MJ Freeway technology roadblock was a setback, but overall the state leadership, industry leadership, and patient advocates have worked incredibly hard to meet the needs of all medical marijuana patients. I anticipate that adult use recreational marijuana will be launched to dispensaries in Nevada by the end of summer 2017, serving the over 42 million visitors each year and residents that include the medical marijuana patients that continue to grow.

Brannon Zimbelman: When we started the Travel Joint 4 years ago we were going to setup our offices in Colorado, but we ultimately decided on Las Vegas because we knew when recreational use broke in Nevada our city was going to be the ultimate cannabis destination location.

Duke Rodriguez: With Las Vegas' 43 million visitors each year, it is expected and will definitely meet the call of becoming a tourism capital of cannabis. Nevada also has the advantage of being geographically closer to states without adult use or any cannabis legislation at all. This will give the state and especially the city of Las Vegas the upper hand in attracting consumers from Utah, Idaho, Arizona and even New Mexico. California is already land locked by other states with cannabis legislation.

Krista Whitley: Specialty cannabis products will thrive in the recreational marijuana market in Nevada for the same reasons that unique products have always thrived in Las Vegas: tourists love splurging on something new that they can't get anywhere else. It doesn't matter if it's a $10,000 table at a fancy nightclub with bottle service or the $5000 Fleur Burger at Fleur Las Vegas, visitors in Las Vegas are looking for once in a lifetime opportunities to splurge and premium cannabis products will find their opportunity in this fabulous market.

Duke Rodriguez: The title of the "Cannabis Capital" will be determined within the next 12 and 24 months as the industry rapidly expands.


Duke Rodriguez: Denver, Colorado, is the first city in the nation to pass legislation on open consumption. These concepts that seemed radical in the past will become the common theme. I would advise most of these communities that they need to be open to trying some of these new festivals and environments for cannabis to be experienced. By restricting communities and not being open to the possibilities, these events will go to providers who can do it under positive conditions including Tribal Nations.

Public officials and members of the public should take the time to go to the U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup or other cannabis centric events to experience the environment and find out how safe and secure it really is. It's not going to turn into a drug laden, Woodstock kind of experience. There won't be mad hysteria in the streets or Reefer Madness. There are people with education and sophistication at these events, and most newcomers will learn it is a very professionally safe, musical event of education, discovery and social interaction.

Krista Whitley: California has such a unique cannabis culture that embraces cannabis collectives, homemade cannabis products, and cultivators who have been working in the shadows for decades. I love the authenticity and passion, but there is a great opportunity for the California regulators to connect with these entrepreneurs to ensure that regulation protects the consumer without squashing the innovation that has thrived in the cannabis community.

Duke Rodriguez: I have been to some county and state fairs that felt more unsafe than what a Cannabis Cup normally feels like. Cannabis events are very peaceful where people are simply chilling. People are more likely to be seen napping than getting into a drunken fist fight or someone spilling a beer on your favorite jacket


Duke Rodriguez: Other states have select areas of tourism, and that translates to cannabis too. For example, Colorado's tourism is heavily based around skiing. Washington's is based on outdoor activities. California is all of that plus more. It will have cannabis tourism along the coastal areas, in wine country, around major metropolitans like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

Krista Whitley: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada all offer several established precedents for California regulators to follow. From Nevada's seed to sale zero loss regulations that follow cannabis from cultivation to dispensary to Washington's recreational shops, California faces a unique opportunity to learn from what has worked in each of these markets to ensure the safety of all cannabis consumers.

Brannon Zimbelman: We manage a cannabis cowboy ranch in Colorado. At that property, we work with local dispensaries to bring in five star chefs who cook with marijuana. It's about enhancing your travel experience, not eclipsing it. When you got on a trip to Napa you don't spend the whole time drunk. It's the same thing with cannabis.

Duke Rodriguez: Tourism is so big in California it is near impossible not to expect adult use cannabis to have a major impact in the state. Cannabis, if it is properly introduced, doesn't have to be viewed as a counter to the wine, alcohol or theme park industries. It's a clean industry that can coexist and enhance the experience of those activities.

Colorado, being the first state to adopt broad legalization, seriously confirmed the existence and emergence of the green rush. California and Nevada's opportunities are more broad than other states because they will be competing with each other – more competition breeds more innovation. California and Nevada have very high populations as well. These states are likely to take that proven green rush, and turn it into a statewide, regional green stampede of tourism.


Duke Rodriguez: There is no question that Los Angeles is positioned to be the single largest cannabis market in the United States, if not the world. The city has every entertainment option known to consumers today. Now, it will expand that offering with adult use cannabis tourism. The only advice I would give Los Angeles is to put no bounds on the discovery of new and innovative cannabis uses in its communities and with its visitors is at this early stage.

Los Angeles has the opportunity to embrace and welcome cannabis and build off its already strong foothold in the entertainment industry. I look forward to having events like the U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup, even some the size of Coachella, on Tribal lands in California also. Non Tribal entities will need to be willing to provide an atmosphere as receptive and experience of positive as the Tribes are offering.


Duke Rodriguez: Las Vegas manages to continually raise the standards for entertainment. The Wynn Hotel just announced a project which will include a major outdoor waterpark. The city has just acquired a new hockey team, and it is highly probable the Oakland Raiders will become the Las Vegas Raiders. And next month Las Vegas is hosting the first ever adult use Cannabis Cup hosted on Native land.

I would recommend Las Vegas to double the pace and accelerate their adoption to compete with their neighboring state, and to keep the ball rolling with these adult use events to edge out the competition in Los Angeles and other cities.

Another example is in Las Vegas, open consumption of alcohol is allowed on The Strip and the downtown areas. Now these communities have to answer the question will we allow the open consumption of Cannabis? I think the public is ready for it but the regulators have to accept it.


Krista Whitley: Coming from Las Vegas I have seen what Sin City does better than anywhere else in the world: create themed experiences. Not everyone is a Bellagio person, but if that isn't a fit there is New York New York or MGM down the street. Embracing the different experiences that a cannabis consumer would want to have with thoughtful regulation will build a foundation for a thriving cannabis tourism experience. Supporting the small businesses and cannabis community leaders as they create businesses and organizations who will be providing these unique cannabis consumer experiences will be key to success.

Duke Rodriguez: Every state in the country is engaged in tourism, but no two states are engaged at the level of California and Nevada. Whatever these states choose to do will affect cities like Santa Monica all the way to Detroit and even Miami.

Jumping to immediate declaration of activities that won't be allowed may prohibit the emergence of interest and drive consumers to other locations. For instance, if Los Angeles becomes overly restrictive, and Las Vegas becomes less restrictive, consumers will drive demand to Las Vegas. For any of these communities to be successful, there's going to be some trial and error as well as communication with authorities.

Brannon Zimbelman: A lot of stuff is going to change. We plan to just grow at the industry grows. We want to do everything right with what we can. We take every single customer from start to finish and make sure they have a fantastic travel experience. As we expand we want to be the best travel site, not the best cannabis travel site.

Duke Rodriguez: In regards to the U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup, it has required a little bit of dialogue with the state agencies as to what the existing licensees will be allowed to do. There will need to be openness to find out how we go into these areas that have not previously had a need to be defined.

The U.S. Las Vegas Cannabis Cup is a hugely important stepping stone in elevating all adult use cannabis tourism, but has a special impact on the city of Las Vegas. While the next few years play out, we will begin to see both Las Vegas and Los Angeles in particular grab this consumer-driven cannabis market by the horns and provide the already existing population of social cannabis users a sense of wellness and entertainment that has yet to be discovered here in the United States.

Israel’s Panaxia, Ultra Health Launched U.S First Medical Cannabis Production Facility

The medical cannabis products include rectal and vaginal suppositories, transdermal pain relief patches and treatment of pain, burns and psoriasis.

Jewish Business News

Published on March 2, 2017

Israeli pharmaceutical company Panaxia Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, specializing in medical cannabis R&D and manufacturing, and Ultra Health, New Mexico’s No. 1 cannabis company with a nationwide presence, launched their first medical cannabis production facility in the United States.

Based in Bernalillo, New Mexico, the facility will manufacture smokeless, accurately dosed cannabis medicine in a variety of delivery methods.

Although Panaxia pharmaceutical Industries produces more than 300 different conventional medication products, the company has been developing and manufacturing medical products based on cannabis since 2010.

Panaxia is providing smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols, which are not readily available in the United States, in order to manufacture state-of-the-art products to treat a number of illnesses. The production facility is implementing Panaxia’s technology.


The smokeless products include sublingual and oral tablets, rectal and vaginal suppositories, cannabis oil, pastilles, transdermal pain relief patches and topical creams for the treatment of pain, burns and psoriasis. They are beneficial to current chronic conditions requiring ongoing dosing such as PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, neuropathy pain, epilepsy, anorexia and HIV/AIDS.

“The new 18 smokeless-designed cannabis products are providing better delivery systems for patients and physicians by delivery of a fully potent, targeted dosage specifically tailored to the patient’s needs,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health. “Patients will also have the opportunity to purchase products containing only Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), products containing only Cannabidiol, (CBD) as well as products with an equal THC and Cannabidiol (CBD) ratio.”

Dr. Dadi Segal, CEO of Panaxia said “It is history in the making for an Israeli company to bring the tidings to the citizens of New Mexico. Panaxia is part of an organization that has been active in the Israeli and global pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years.”


Sharon Udasin / The Jerusalem Post

Published on March 2, 2017

An Israeli and New Mexican company have joined forces to launch the first-ever pharmaceutical cannabis production lab in the United States.

The Lod-based Panaxia Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and the Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Ultra Health have opened a facility in Bernalillo, New Mexico, that will manufacture smokeless, accurately dosed cannabis medication in a variety of delivery methods, the companies announced this week in a joint statement.

Panaxia is providing the smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols, which are not readily available in the US, in order to produce a number of medications to treat different illnesses, according to the statement.

“It is history in the making for an Israeli company to bring the tidings to the citizens of New Mexico,” said Panaxia CEO Dadi Segal. “We are happy to move forward into bringing smokeless, exact and reproducible dosing capabilities for medical cannabis products to the United States market.”

Among the products manufactured will be sublingual (under the tongue) and oral tablets, rectal and vaginal suppositories, cannabis oil, pastilles, transdermal (through the skin) pain relief patches and topical creams. The medicines can be used to help ease symptoms from conditions that require ongoing dosing, such as PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, neuropathy, epilepsy, anorexia and HIV/AIDS, according to the statement.

“The new 18 smokeless-designed cannabis products are providing better delivery systems for patients and physicians by delivery of a fully potent, targeted dosage specifically tailored to the patient’s needs,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and president of Ultra Health.

“Patients will also have the opportunity to purchase products containing only tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), products containing only cannabidiol, (CBD) as well as products with an equal THC and CBD ratio.”

THC is the principal psychoactive component of marijuana – the part that makes users feel “stoned” – and CBD is the main non-psychoactive component.

Established in 2010, Panaxia is part of a larger corporate group of pharmaceutical companies that have been active in the Israeli and global industry for 40 years. The company, Segal stressed, aims to adhere to the strictest protocols and bring the most advanced technology available to the production of cannabis- based products.

Panaxia’s partner, Ultra Health, is a turnkey solutions provider for specialty healthcare in the cannabis industry, with operations and facilities in Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. The company collaborates with a wide range of businesses and tribal nations to promote profitable, scalable and mutually beneficial cannabis-related development, the firm said.

Because the US government includes cannabis in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, federal law prohibits producing pharmaceuticals out of the plant on a nationwide scale, Segal told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday afternoon.

“There are 29 states where cannabis is allowed,” he said. “But... federal law prohibits products that were manufactured in one state to be shipped to another state, even if those two states allow cannabis use.”

As a result, there is no centrally located manufacturer that can produce pharmaceutical cannabis for the entire country, Segal continued. “Our solution to this is to establish small production facilities in each state.”

After completing the construction of the New Mexico facility in only six months, the partners are now planning for their next one, likely in Nevada.

Panaxia relies on distributed manufacturing, meaning that the base of its products are manufactured in Israel, requiring only the cannabis component to be added to the medications once they arrive at the New Mexico facility, according to Segal.

“The advantage of this is we can build facilities relatively fast,” he said. “That’s something unique with our mode of operation.”

First pharmaceutical cannabis factory opened in USA

Pharmaceutical Daily News

Published on March 2, 2017

First pharmaceutical cannabis factory was open in the USA on Tuesday, as Ultra Health, New Mexico’s first cannabis company with a nationwide presence, and Panaxia Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, an Israeli pharmaceutical company specializing in pharmaceutical cannabis R&D and manufacturing launched their facility in Bernalillo, New Mexico.

The factory will produce smokeless, accurately dosed cannabis medicine in a variety of delivery methods.

Panaxia is providing smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols, which are not readily available in the United States.

The new 18 products include sublingual and oral tablets, rectal and vaginal suppositories, cannabis oil, pastilles, transdermal pain relief patches and topical creams for the treatment of pain, burns and psoriasis. According to  They are beneficial to current chronic conditions requiring ongoing dosing such as PTSD, chronic pain, cancers, neuropathy pain, epilepsy, anorexia and HIV/AIDS. The products will be available at the end of March.

Unclear how much state knows about wholesale medical marijuana sales

By Andy Lyman / The NM Political Report

Published on March 1, 2017

In New Mexico, lawmakers have debated acceptable uses of medical marijuana and some have questioned if cannabis producers are allowed to have enough medical cannabis to qualify as an “adequate supply” for patients.

While politicians and medical cannabis advocates in Santa Fe argue over appropriate plant numbers, getting actual numbers from the agency that governs the program is difficult—despite the fact that producers are required to use specific software to track all transactions.

Despite the plethora of debates and discussion, cannabis transaction data from the state is either unavailable or state employees do not know how to access it.

In almost every legislative discussion about New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, producers and patients sell their respective claims on how much medical cannabis should be available in the state. Depending on what day and who is speaking, the state could be in a shortage that amounts to a crisis or have such a glut of cannabis that producers have to unload product to each other.

The New Mexico Department of Health oversees the cannabis program, regulating how much cannabis each producer can grow. But now, one Democratic state senator from Albuquerque is trying to affect procedure though statute instead of department rules.

Sen. Cisco McSorley’s SB 177 would put into law exactly how many plants each producer can have. If passed, the bill would expand producers’ plant limit to 1,000 each. That, coupled with a fairly broad patient expansion, alarmed one prominent producer.

Duke Rodriguez, who runs the medical cannabis company Ultra Health, has long been an outspoken opponent of DOH’s limit on production. Currently each producer can only grow 450 plants. Rodriguez told NM Political Report the medical cannabis program is the only industry that has a state-mandated limit on production.

“We have yet to tell the microbreweries how much they can brew,” Rodriguez said.

Other producers from around the state not only dispute that the shortages exist, but say there is such an excess of cannabis, producers sell products to each other wholesale.

Jarrett Hines-Kay sells cannabis exclusively to other producers through wholesale transactions as CEO of Seven Points Farms in Santa Fe. Hines-Kay wouldn’t say exactly how much cannabis he has on hand or how much he typically sells, but he did tell NM Political Report he hasn’t seen any signs of a shortage or a dwindling supply.

“It’s hard for me to see that,” Hines-Kay said.

Erik Briones, who operates the Minerva Canna Group, also disputed there is a shortage of cannabis.

“I made a few phone calls and out of four producers there’s easily 5 pounds wholesale [available],” Briones said.

Anecdotes aside, actual data about how much and how often cannabis is sold wholesale could prove helpful weeding through the rhetoric.

Opinions and even data are likely to differ when polling patients and producers, but most agree that the program’s governing agency, DOH, should be able to provide objective data regarding wholesale cannabis sales.

But if DOH responses to NM Political Report are indicative of what is being tracked by the department, more speculation is likely to follow.

NM Political Report repeatedly emailed and called two different DOH spokesmen and the medical cannabis program manager, yet received only limited information.

One spokesman said the department allows wholesale transactions, and added that producers consider the number of plants, the yield per plant and harvest schedule when deciding to exchange products on the wholesale level.

Producers in New Mexico are required by DOH to use software from a Florida company to track sales, purchases and on-hand inventory. The company, BioTrackTHC, boasts on its website its “comprehensive product suite increases transparency and accountability by monitoring key data points during cultivation, harvest, extraction, packaging, transport, and dispensing.”

Briones said he knows first hand how strict DOH is when it comes to requiring producers to account for their respective products.

“We can not transfer a gram without a manifest,” Briones said.

While Rodriguez and Briones may disagree on plant limits, they both say DOH has the wholesale data.

“It does exist in BioTrack,” Rodriguez said.

In lieu of personal responses from DOH, NM Political Report filed a public records request for any and all documents regarding wholesale transaction reports. In a manual for BioTrackTHC software, a “Wholesale Transaction Report” is specifically mentioned. But the department responded saying they had no such records. State law does not require public entities to create reports specifically for a records request.

In a second, more broadly worded, records request NM Political Report asked for any documents related to wholesale transactions.

In response, DOH provided memorandums of understanding and letters from producers to the department stating the intention to take part in inter-producer business.

This week, DOH updated its quarterly report of producers and plants. The report includes how many patients were served, an estimate of how much product was sold and an educated guess of how much cannabis is being sold for. Nowhere in the report is a mention of how much producers are selling to each other.

For now, conflicting claims and reports by producers may continue. But, Briones said DOH has to have records regarding wholesale transactions.

“They’re not being honest with you,” Briones said.

Medical marijuana facility holds ribbon-cutting ceremony in Bernalillo

By Morgan Aguilar / KOB 4

Published on March 1, 2017

With New Mexico's medical marijuana industry growing and evolving every day, a facility in Bernalillo now has the green light to start producing some products that are new to the country.

Ultra Health celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the facility this week.

"I know it's true medicine because we used it for my husband who had Stage 3 cancer and he got through it," said Susan Billy, director of operations at Ultra Health. "He did chemo and radiation, but it was because of cannabis that he was able to get through it without any side effects. And he is cancer free today."

Tuesday morning, Bernalillo Mayor Jack Torres helped officially open a new, 5,000 square foot section of Ultra Health's dispensary. They'll be making smokeless products people never seen before in partnership with an Israeli pharmaceutical company called Panaxia.

"These are new certainly to the United States and for New Mexico," said Ultra Health vice president of business development Leonard Salgado. "It's a real big plus for them to be able to have access to these products not only for Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but certainly we want to reach out to the rural communities where access is very difficult."
Some of these smokeless products include an inhaler and a sublingual tablet that you put under your tongue. Panaxia is helping bring technology that can accurately measure extraction.

"We're going to actually know that this medicine is what it says it is 25 milligrams, it's exactly 25 milligrams of THC," Billy said. "It's not a guessing game."

The new products are 30 to 45 days from being available at Ultra Health. Billy said they're best for people who have never smoked or never wanted to smoke.

"And they don't have to be smoking around their children," she said. "So it's really good across the board for everyone."

Ultra Health Opens First-Ever US Cannabis Pharmaceutical Lab

Joint venture between Ultra Health, Panaxia brings smokeless cannabis medicine to United States

(Albuquerque, New Mexico) – Ultra Health®, New Mexico’s No. 1 cannabis company with a nationwide presence, and Panaxia Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, an Israeli pharmaceutical company specializing in pharmaceutical cannabis R&D and manufacturing, launched the first pharmaceutical cannabis production facility in the United States, located in Bernalillo, New Mexico. The facility will manufacture smokeless, accurately dosed cannabis medicine in a variety of delivery methods.

Continue reading "Ultra Health Opens First-Ever US Cannabis Pharmaceutical Lab"