A pioneer of Colorado’s medical marijuana industry is leaving the state for greener pastures – in New York.
Josh Stanley, who helped get legislation passed to legalize marijuana and opened the Peace in Medicine Center, Denver’s first medical marijuana dispensary, said he’ll completely relocate to New York.
He plans on opening four medical marijuana clinics and two marijuana farms there.
“I got tired of looking in the paper and seeing ads for joints,” Stanley said. “You see companies getting in on the ‘Green Rush’ … They’re peddling dope.”
Stanley said he wants to focus on cannabis-based pharmaceuticals.
“It’s become clear that the intention in New York is focused solely on medical,” he said. “One of the things in the bill is no smoking raw flowers, so it’s just concentrates.”
That’s a stark contrast to the Colorado marijuana industry, where 148,000 pounds of marijuana buds that are used for smoking were sold in 2014, according to a report released by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division.
“We’re identifying compounds that will stop epilepsy, compounds that stop cancer and stop the progression of autoimmune diseases,” he said. “We’re not just making an industry, we’re making standardized medicine.”
Stanley is focusing on creating ways to administer cannabis that doctors will find familiar. He’s researching how to design cannabis-based pills, topical solutions for joint pain and eczema and nebulizers for seizures and Parkinson’s disease.
“We’re not talking about brownies or lollipops anymore,” he said. “We’re adults now, and those are like Flintstone vitamins.”
Stanley plans to open four medical clinics across New York state. And he said he hopes to plant two 1,000-acre farms to supply his operation. One of the farms will focus on a marijuana growing operation, and the other will be geared toward research and development.
The four clinics and two farms will cost upwards of $10 million, Stanley said. Because marijuana operations are still federally illegal, he can’t seek any loans from banks. The entire project is being funded by private investors.
Stanley’s local Peace in Medicine operation on 38th Avenue shut down over the summer and was replaced by a new dispensary.
Stanley hasn’t signed a lease on any of his clinics or farms yet. He has about 15 locations in mind and plans on narrowing those locations down in the next month.
There are three factors that Stanley considers when assessing possible clinic and farm locations: ease of access for patients, proximity to research institutions and the state of local economies.
The clinics and farms will bring about 200 new jobs to New York, Stanley estimates.
“I want to hire a lot of veterans,” he said. “These kids come back and their only training is battle. There’s not a lot of opportunity for them.”
Stanley hopes to be licensed to grow by July. Once he’s licensed, he can begin growing plants immediately.
“There’s a large number of children right now who have epilepsy and no access to medication,” he said. “We have a plan to get plants in the ground and meds to them sometime in late October.”
Stanley has an extensive resume in the pot industry. He founded Colorado’s first medical marijuana lobby, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. He helped draft two bills on pot regulation alongside then-governor Bill Ritter. He and his brothers also created the “Charlotte’s Web” strain, which was featured in a CNN documentary in 2013. The strain has been used to treat severe epilepsy in children.
“I’m a firm believer that we’re looking at a new biotechnological industry,” he said “I think that New York has the potential to be the epicenter of that.”
Stanley spends much of his time advocating medical marijuana outside of the U.S. He’s currently working with the governments of Jamaica, Poland and the Czech Republic to help develop medical marijuana regulation plans.
Although he’s moving his business out of Colorado, Stanley said that he’ll remain a resident.
“I still live in Colorado, in Evergreen. I try to come back as often as I can,” he said. “But most of the time I spend in the air.”