Exeter getting first opinion on cannabis consulting

By Paul Myers @PaulM_SGN

EXETER – City of Exeter staff are taking a look at the effects of medicinal cannabis, but they’re trying to keep the conversation from getting too hazy.

Over a month ago Exeter’s newest councilman Frankie Alves was approached by Exeter physician Dr. David Sine about a consulting office for a medicinal cannabis company. Just two week’s later Exeter City Council directed their staff to see what was possible.

While Dr. Sine is known for his pediatric work in Exeter, a significant number of his patients are referrals from UC San Francisco and Stanford. And they are not all children. Instead Dr. Sine also treats adults with terminal illnesses like cancer or Parkinson’s and those with chronic pain. But not all medicine is available to him.

Because universities like UCSF and Stanford receive federal funding, they are not able to consult patients on the use of medicinal cannabis, and for that matter, neither is Dr. Sine. But when he thinks a patient can benefit from it, he trusts BioLife Solutions. Their proprietary platform of solutions are highly valued in the regenerative medicine, biobanking and drug discovery markets, and as Dr. Sine says it truly gets into the biomechanics of the treatment.

Opposite of the traditional thought of medicinal marijuana cards that had plenty of people wondering whether the doctors prescribing were above bar, BioLife is a consulting and pharmacy business. Patients don’t visit a dispensary or look for cannabis products online. Instead, Dr. Sine refers his patients to BioLife consultants who discuss and suggest a treatment plan and the product is mailed to the patient directly.

“People don’t know what to do. They look it up on the Internet and they say they it didn’t work or they get high and they aren’t treating it like a medication,” Dr. Sine said.

Part of the problem with treatment, Dr. Sine says, is the proximity of the nearest BioLife consultation office and pharmacy. Closest in the Valley is in Clovis – a good hour’s drive from Exeter or perhaps farther for some patients. Dr. Sine said he has patients referred to him from as far as Bakersfield. To help mitigate travel time for his sickest patients, Dr. Sine said he would like to see a consultation office in Exeter.

“It’s basically just an office nothing more than that,” Dr. Sine said. “That way the local patients around here…who I don’t trust to go to a dispensary or anything like that…][BioLife] can do all the modifications and everything with the patients here [in Exeter].”

One thing potentially standing in the way is Exeter strict no cannabis policy. The proposition is a simple consulting office for convenience, but Sine wanted to address any possible impediments presented by City ordinances.

“As we have understood it so far it is an office where the patient would come in for a consultation. There is no cannabis product or material that crosses hands because they use a delivery service,” Alves confirmed.

Alves has been in favor of adding the consultation office, mostly over how unique the business is. Moreover, the first term councilman said he believes this is an opportunity for Exeter to show their compassion for disadvantaged adults and sick children.

“Could I see something like this benefiting the town and local patients in the area, I think it would,” Alves said. “I think it shows how caring the town is when it comes to taking care of kids and patients and their parents.”

Alves added that he feels a consultation office is a benefit but a dispensary is not. He noted that developments in Woodlake, Farmersville and now Lindsay have not yielded much clarity for Exeter and that the local dispensary market is quickly becoming crowded. Because of the proliferation of dispensaries, future tax growth for cities over cannabis is difficult to gauge

“What struck me with Dr. Sine is that it is not run of the mill. It makes you think differently about your standard idea of medical marijuana and cannabis use in general and how they emphasize being treated for a special kind of patient than what you normally think about when you think about medicinal marijuana,” Alves added.

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