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Alvin Llanos: R.I. needs better compassion centers

As the landscape of the cannabis industry continues to flourish across the United States, itʼs safe to say better access to modern medicines such as cannabis is essential for all patients looking for alternative health care and an economic surge driving growth to businesses in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s current demand by existing medical marijuana patients warrants at least six additional compassion centers. The completion of new centers would dramatically enhance the patient’s experience by increasing quality, decreasing prices and introducing clinical planning procedures. We believe in a medical focus from growth to manufacturing to sale.

As a clinical pharmacist for the last 13 years, I can attest that the amount of education needed to gain expertise in formulating, manufacturing and dispensing pharmaceuticals or nutraceuticals was substantial.

Prior to joining Growth Industries of Rhode Island, I had the distinct pleasure of working at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. I am one of many medical professionals excited to see the increased acceptance of using CBD and cannabis in the treatment of various medical conditions, when properly dosed and dispensed by a variety of responsible compassion centers then subsequently used by informed patients.

As a medical professional, I am trained to always question the quality control, quality assurance, dosing parameters, drug interactions and overall education related to both hemp and cannabis derived products. Currently the general public considers CBD and THC as the all-natural “cure all” miracle product. However, many tend to overlook the possibilities of the product they are purchasing at a compassion center having negative drug interactions with other medications they are currently taking, or even the potential negative side effects.

This, of course, is very troubling. In order to help minimize any potential risk to the patients, it is of the utmost importance to have proper safety-net procedures in place. For example, compassion centers should have the proper certifications, training, and personnel on staff, and not just employ someone to dispense the products without properly taking into consideration the other medications the patient is currently taking, or the ailment for which the patient is seeking treatment.

In light of the growing public awareness of cannabis/CBD and their potential uses as both a health supplement as well as its uses to help alleviate symptoms of countless medical ailments, patients should be advised on proper dosage as well as informed as to the potential side effects of the product.

I am proud to say that we at Growth Industries operate in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices and have developed standard operating procedures for all processes, from cultivating, manufacturing of goods, in-house laboratory testing, and certified rooms for packaging our products. We meticulously monitor the quality of our products and ensure that we are compliant or exceed the CGMP regulations, which in turn consistently produces a standardized, safe and pure pharmaceutical product each and every time.

We are currently building a facility in Rhode Island that is on the cutting edge of technological advancements within the industry, from our cultivation irrigation systems to our state-of-the-art controlled environment for manufacturing and packaging our finished products.

The reality is the need for more patient access is vital for the evolution of the industry and modern medicine and patient care. Transparency and a better open market will allow the Rhode Island medical marijuana industry to truly flourish. Competition will increase quality, enhance medical procedures and lower prices.

Alvin Llanos is a clinical pharmacist with a doctor of pharmacy degree from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He is a pharmacist and quality control supervisor with Growth Industries Rhode Island, also overseeing Factum Pharmaceuticals Inc. in operations, including manufacturing, laboratory testing and quality control.

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