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Identifying Patient-Killing Frankenstein Stores: First Steps

Based on the data from the first year of Washington’s Regulated Medical Cannabis System, my assumption that the Patient Protection Act (SSB-5052) of 2015 would actually protect those Washingtonians who depend on Cannabis or Cannabinoid-containing products as part of their medicine/supplement regime was clearly wrong.

See a summary of the state of the thing that our Legislators and Regulators call Medical Cannabis that I recently published on HI-Blog .

I’ve spent a good deal of time pondering the reason(s) why the adoption of the regulated medical system by Patients, the adoption of the system by farmers and processors, and the adoption of the system by Retailers is so scant. I’m not going to go into that much here today (and, indeed, it would appear that Grandma Cat Jeter and I will be writing about this together for NW Leaf’s upcoming August issue. Just in time for Hempfest! — where I will be speaking again this year).

Today, I am going to share an observation that I recently made while merging my custom licensing data with all of the datasets I’ve been collating related to implementation of the Patient Protection Act.

I’m sharing this because it gut-punched me when I saw it I’ve re-checked the results and I’m going to stand by the statement that answers the following question (in deference to Socrates):

Guess which type of currently open Retail Access Point is more likely today to be able to serve a medical Cannabis Patient as a Patient*?

Your choices are: those stores originally licensed as recreational Cannabis stores under I-502 vs those stores subsequently licensed as Priority ONE applicants with a medical history under the Patient Protection Act SSB-5052?

*Hint: (Serving a Patient as a Patient means, among other things, having a Certified Medical Consultant serve them, having the ability to enter their purchase into a tracking database TIED TO THE PATIENT’S ID, and forgiving them the sales tax associated with their 37%-excise-taxed medicine).

OK … that’s enough time.

Was it the stores originally licensed to supply recreational Cannabis to Washingtonians or is it the stores that were licensed to PROTECT PATIENTS that are now (per the DOH) better able to serve Patients as Patients?

Here is the answer:

Stores licensed under the Patient Protection Act are, currently, less likely to be certified by the DOH to serve Patients than are stores that were originally licensed to sell recreational drugs.

Here are the numbers:
(Note that this work is based on a proprietary hybrid dataset that is cobbled together from datasets produced by different agencies …. some of which were produced on different days If anyone tries to replicate this work, they will likely come up with slightly different numbers. I doubt the results would materially differ … if they do, please let me know.)

For the 383 Retail Access Points that appear to have been open for business in June (2017), 102 appear to have been licensed under opportunities afforded by the Patient Protection Act (26.6% of operating stores).

Of these 102 Patient-Protecting Priority 1’s only 38 (37.3%) were, per the DOH, able to serve Patients as Patients as of June 28. Good on them.

Of the 281 Recreationally-licensed stores, 124 (44.1%) have gone to the trouble to be able to serve Patients as Patients. Good on them, as well.

I’ve got no problem with the other 157 Recreationally-licensed stores that are not currently able to serve Patients as Patients. That was not what they signed up for and, frankly, the way the system is set up it is a hassle for them. I am sure many of them are doing what they do very ably in serving their customers. I’d imagine some of those customers are also Patients (perhaps not officially).

I do, however, have a problem with the 64 Priority 1 licensees who used the Patient Protection Act to enable them to sell Cannabis in Washington.

I suspect that this is a good indicator for the “Shake and Bake / Frankenstein” applicants that faked their way into licensure through the legally-moderated corporate loop-de-loops that the LCB allowed and seemed to encourage. It is an indicator for folks/stores that don’t seem to buy into this whole regulated “Cannabis as Medicine” thing.

In my opinion, it is unfortunate that these entrepreneurial souls often took the place of businesses that had demonstrated not only a willingness to but a passion for, expertise in and a history of connecting Patients with Cannabinoid-containing products appropriate to their needs.

On second thought, I should likely not use the word “souls” to describe the apparently soul-less. I keep thinking of that dipshit that raised the price of his company’s newly-acquired life-saving drug by 50,000% or so.

When I saw these data, I did a double-take and shared the observation to some friends during a VIMEA meeting. I got some interesting reactions, yet I found it very difficult to believe that this was true. Even after joining the tailgate for awhile.

So, I re-did the work (from scratch).

Turns out it was true.

Gut-punching nausea aside, I would love to hear your thoughts regarding WHY recreational stores would be apparently more willing (on average) to serve Patients as Patients than would supposed medical access points?
I’ll wait until I hear back from the gang.

I suspect there are all kinds of reasonable reasons for them not to be serving Patients as Patients. I just can’t think of any right now as my stomach churns.

Please comment on the post if you are aware of reasonable justifications for this disturbing situation.

Then, perhaps I’ll publish a list of the apparent Shake and Bakes that seem to have done a disservice to Washington’s Patients by bumping true medical providers out of the system.

Remember … Karma is real (and it works).

Patients (and, more generally, consumers) have much more power in shaping the future of this industry than many think. All that is required is attentive and thoughtful choices on the part of consumers while shopping.

The series of Patient Protection Announcements I produce between now and Hempfest will, hopefully, help folks that are thinking of purchasing out of the regulated market make better purchase decisions.

I look forward to reading (and responding to at least some of) your comments.

Dr. Jim
(Author’s note: I am neither a medical doctor nor a medical Patient under the regulated system. Two facts for which I am grateful at this particular time and place)

2 Comments

  1. Shawn DeNae says:

    So, only a little over a third of the P1 applicants (vs lottery winners) that got licensed have registered with the DOH….. hmmmm, that so undermines the argument that was used to fight for the opportunity to have a P1 status. (What about the P2s and P3s? My recollection is the LCB never even got to those folks.)

    Interesting that less than half of all stores bothered to become DOH stores. I would think that the good marketing opportunity would be enough to drive that number up. Goes to show that many must be under the opinion that it does not really matter. They may be correct as non-authorized persons can still buy medically endorsed flower – deemed as GENERAL USE cannabis.

    I have heard more than once from stores that are not registered with DOH that it’s because of the time/hassle/set up costs required to process a Patient Authorization. Instead, they simply deduct the equivalent of the sales tax at the register for patients who show an authorization (produced from another store). So, the patients are still getting the pittance of a discount (10% at best) that they would at a DOH registered store but the store does not take on the burden of actually producing the paperwork required for patients to get their authorization.

    We got some of our flower through the Medical Endorsed process and it is a real hassle, too. We’ll see how it sells in the market as we priced it the same (I refuse to charge patients more for the same product that we produce for recreational!) The irony is we grow all of our flowers in the same way, in the same rooms, at the same times – IT IS ALL THE SAME – so the hassle of getting that DOH endorsement seems a sad game.

    I need to get myself registered as a patient to experience the process from the patient side. I only know of 1 person who has done it and he said it was easy.

    • Jim MacRae says:

      Shawn — thank-you.
      My Comcast triple-play is out (no phone/internet/tv … or 911) until at least Wednesday.
      That delay led to me calculating the NPV of all payments we’ve made to that local monopoly over the past years in Washington.
      Nice that 5 days “out” is acceptable when ALL comm.s are involved.

      To ALL COMMENTERS …I’ll be less responsive for a few days.
      Keep ’em coming.

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