Chamber Hosts Panel to Discuss CannaBusiness

GOSHEN – At the Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly membership breakfast on Thursday, July 11, a panel of experts from Curaleaf, PharmaCann and Citiva discussed the emerging CannaBusiness industry in Orange County. 150 guests attending the event, including local dignitaries Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus; Orange County Deputy Executive Harry Porr; Orange County Director of Economic Development, Bill Fioravanti; and NYS Senator James Skoufis’ Office Constituent Relations Specialists, David Rabbitts.

Moderated by Lynn Allen Cione, President and CEO of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, the panelists debunked common myths often associated with the industry, provided background on what medical cannabis is used for, how it is accessed, production regulations, the impact on the local economy and ways the business community can work with this growing industry sector.

“We’re looking to start the medical marijuana conversation with our local business community so they can get all the information directly from the source and make their own decision on how they feel – good, bad or indifferent,” said Lynn Allen Cione, President and CEO of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. “Our goal is not to tell you what to think about medical marijuana; our goal is to bring you the facts.”

“The purpose of medical cannabis is not psycho-activity; we not getting people high. The purpose is to help provide symptom relief,” shared Dr. Stacia Woodcock, Practitioner Outreach Liaison for Curaleaf. “Everyone expects to see teenagers in Grateful Dead t-shirts [at the dispensary] and it’s not that. It is baby boomers with walkers and wheelchairs. It is veterans with PTSD that need treatment and aren’t served by the current prescription medications that are out there. It is patients with chronic pain and arthritis. It is not who you expect to see and these are the patients we are making a difference for with medical cannabis products.”

There is a specific list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana that can be found on the Department of Health website. These include conditions like cancer, MS, Parkinson’s and HIV, in addition to less-commonly known qualifying conditions like chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraines, menstrual cramps and neurological conditions like diabetes or shingles.

“THC is 20 percent stronger at anti-inflammatory than ibuprofen and it doesn’t thin the blood or cause stomach ulcers,” said Dr. Woodcock. “It’s safe, accessible and affordable.”

Colleen Mairéad Hughes, Director of Community Development and Education at Citiva NY, shared that NYC is the largest market for illicit cannabis in the entire world. “This is why regulation is so important,” shared Hughes. “A lot of people are already consuming cannabis, from all walks of life. We are losing money to our neighboring states and not taking care of the people that are self-medicating. What we are doing is evidence and fact-based. There are medical professionals driving this train.”

Phillip Wagner, Operations and Site Manager for PharmaCann’s Hamptonburgh cultivation center, provided an overview of the amount of regulation and oversight that goes into the production of medical cannabis products. “There is no consumer package good on the market that goes through the same amount of testing before it goes out for release and approval,” said Wagner. Every single batch, every single lot of every capsule that we make, every tincture of oil that we sell through our dispensaries or our wholesale partners has to go through state testing at the state labs and it cannot be released for sale until we get their approval. We have state regulators that show up from the Department of Health roughly once a month to go through operations, review our logs and our closed circuit video system. We welcome that level of oversight and regulation because it helps to make sure that we are producing a safe and effective product that is consistent.”

All the panelists cautioned against the CBD products that are popping up everywhere. “There is a huge disconnect between medical cannabis and CBD,” said Dr. Woodcock. “It’s really important to understand that it’s not regulated by the FDA, it not required to be tested, and it’s not guaranteed to be safe. The bodega on the corner selling CBD for $12.99 is not something I would trust to put in my body.”

To highlight just how difficult it is to find quality CBD products, Wagner added, “to find CBD stock that met our guidelines we had to go to Poland. I understand the challenges of trying to source something that is clean. It’s typically not available in the U.S. market yet.”

In regards to economic impact, Wagner says PharmaCann has plans to grow the Hamptonburgh facility, which currently employs 60 people at their facility. “We’re always looking for assistance in marketing ideas, packaging technologies, local trades such as electricians, and construction jobs as we plan to build out our facility.”

Anyone interested in learning more about medical marijuana is encouraged to stop by a dispensary to speak with the on-site representatives. You do not need a card to gain entry.

Welcome Back Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus
In addition to the candid conversation regarding cannabis, the group celebrated the return of Orange County Executive, Steve Neuhaus, who recently finished a tour of military service in the Middle East. After receiving a standing ovation, Neuhaus presented the Orange County Chamber of Commerce with an American flag that was flown in Baghdad at the Headquarters of the CJSOTF (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force) during his deployment.

“I was glad to present Lynn Cione and the Orange County Chamber of Commerce with an American flag that was flown in Baghdad,” said Steve Neuhaus, Orange County Executive. “We have a great relationship, working together to make Orange County a business-friendly place to live and work. I appreciate the warm welcome back at Thursday’s breakfast, as well as the ongoing support of the business community.”

The next Orange County Chamber of Commerce membership breakfast will be held on August 8, 2019 from 7:30-9am at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets. For more information or to register, please visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email