"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Supporting Medical Marijuana

Below is a blog that I wrote back in February 2015.  At that time, I wasn't able to publish since Peak Harvest wasn't ready to announce their intentions to locate their medical marijuana manufacturing facility in Cumberland, Maryland.  Since I wrote that blog, much has happened leading up to yesterday's announcement.  I have continued to have meetings with the principals associated with Peak Harvest; and, if anything, my impressions of each of them have only strengthened.  

This is a first-rate group of business people with whom I would be honored to be associated.  In June, I, along with three other business leaders, visited their medical marijuana growing facility in Connecticut.  Their facility is state of the art with its growing, harvesting and production capabilities, along with exceptional security that far exceeds most banks.  Most recently, I have provided them with a memorandum of understanding on behalf of WMHS to work with them on the clinical aspects of medical marijuana.  Peak Harvest will continue to have my full support and I expressed that at the launch last evening.  

For those of you reading this blog, I will answer in advance the burning question of how much I personally have invested in Peak Harvest, and the answer is zero.  Although I was asked and feel very strongly that it would be a very good investment, I do not want my support for medical marijuana and the clinical role that WMHS may play to be in any way tainted by my personal gain.

February 5, 2015   Medical Marijuana

On Tuesday, I had my second meeting with md / phh, a company that is hoping to be awarded one of the 15 licenses to begin the manufacturing of medical marijuana in Maryland.  This company is looking to locate in western Maryland.  The City of Cumberland initially reached out to me for economic development purposes, but the meetings have now advanced to the potential for partnering on clinical trials in the future.  

Some may be surprised to learn of my support of medical marijuana since I am vehemently opposed to legalization of recreational use marijuana.  (Just look at Colorado and the mess that exists there.  Although their tax revenues are through the roof, they have significant challenges with increases in crime, public health issues as well as social issues.)   I have classified medical marijuana as another tool in the clinician's toolbox, if you will.  With the out-of-control use of opiates in Cumberland, Maryland and across the US, medical marijuana could be a wonderful option for patients whose pain is no longer effectively controlled by Oxycodone or other similar opiate derivative drugs.  It could also provide loved ones who are in their final days the ability to have quality time with their family rather than in a morphine-induced coma because of the severity of their pain.  It certainly has a place in many areas of health care and needs to be used.

I am most encouraged by the founding leadership of md / phh, who are clearly in this for all of the right reasons.  They have licenses in Connecticut and Minnesota and their description of their operations is just short of amazing.   These are very credible individuals who are extremely interesting and have a wealth of knowledge on the subject.   At yesterday's meeting, I invited Dr. Goldstein, WMHS's Chief Medical Officer; Nancy Adams, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nurse Executive and Kevin Turley, our Vice President for Marketing, Planning and New Business Development.  That meeting was only an hour due to constraints with other meetings, but it could have lasted for three or four hours.  We are all intrigued by the science associated with medical marijuana and what this company is looking to accomplish.  

It would be of great benefit to the western Maryland region to have a company locate here and bring 50 to 150 new jobs with the economic impact of revenues from $50 to $75 million.  In addition, Western Maryland Health System and our patients would have another dimension for their care.  Medical marijuana also fits nicely into our value-based care delivery model by caring for patients in the most appropriate location and keeping them healthier and out of the hospital.  

I will be keeping everyone apprised of md / phh's progress over the next several months, but I thought that it was necessary to give you a prospective on such a new and different company and concept that will hopefully be coming to Cumberland.

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