Columbia Care, which since January 2016 has operated a medical marijuana dispensary in Riverhead, has begun selling whole flower at its four medical marijuana dispensaries in New York, including the one on East Main Street in Riverhead.
The publicly traded company, one of the largest cultivators, manufacturers and providers of cannabis products in the U.S., began offering whole flower to its customers last week, after State Cannabis Control Board announced the expansion of the medical marijuana program to allow dispensaries to sell whole flower products.
Whole flower products offer patients less expensive options for purchasing cannabis for their medical conditions.
“Because no part of the medical cannabis program is covered by insurance, it’s really, really important that we have affordable options like flower,” Columbia Care’s Vice President of Public Policy Ngiste Abebe said in an interview. Columbia Care earlier this year purchased a 34-acre Riverhead farm with an existing industrial-scale greenhouse operation. In September, Columbia Care announced it had commenced cultivation at the Riverhead facility and expected its first harvest there by the end of the year.
Courtesy photo: Columbia Care
As opposed to other products dispensaries offer, which are often concentrated with one cannabinoid like THC and CBD, whole flower gives the patient access to a wider variety of cannabinoids, Abebe said. Whole flower is also better to treat certain conditions, she said, because the unaltered plant offers the “entourage effect,” which is the synergy between different cannabinoids that can increase both psychoactive and medicinal outcomes.
“For some illnesses that is really vital for positive patient outcomes,” Abebe said, mentioning post-traumatic stress disorder as one of those conditions.
Whole flower is less expensive because it requires less processing after flowering than concentrates, Columbia Care said. Columbia Care said they could not supply an