Using Sick Children to Promote CBD

Jay Lauren

Vireo Health went public last week with promotions about a new strain of CBD-rich cannabis, and used the memory of a deceased child to grab headlines. Kyle Kingsley, CEO of Minnesota Medical Solutions (owned by the same parent company as NY State’s soon to open Vireo Health of New York), claims his company created a new strain with CBD:THC ratios of 34:1. They named the new strain “Katelyn Faith”, in honor of Katelyn Faith Pauling, the 8-year old Minnesota girl who passed away from complications associated with Battens Disease, which causes seizures.

According to their press release and website:
“Vireo Health believes that the new plant is the most CBD-rich plant in the world, and that the discovery could lead to more affordable cannabis-based medicines for Vireo’s patients. ‘This is a great example of how patients benefit from our focus on scientific research,’ said Kyle Kingsley, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Vireo Health. ‘This discovery will eventually lead to lower prices for many patients.’”
But the results do not support these claims. In a follow-up statement released to Marijuana Media, the independent lab used to conduct tests only confirmed they tested a high-CBD/low-THC strain, but did not back up Vireo Health’s interpretation of the test results. Further, the report Vireo Health provided to support their claims was not a lab test: it did not show dry weight analysis or the strain’s full cannabinoid profile. Also, the State Department of Health, who monitor Minnesota’s medical marijuana program, confirmed that no tests have been conducted on this strain, as they only test extracts or processed marijuana (oil, extract, or capsule) and not live plant matter.
Martin A Lee, Director of Project CBD (and the author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana — Medical, Recreational and Scientific) commented on this as follows: “It’s all BS. [A ratio of] 34:1 is a meaningless claim. It tells us nothing about how much CBD by dry weight is in the strain. It only tells us that it’s a low THC strain. There are 30:1 industrial hemp strains with 3 percent CBD by dry weight. There are 1:1 cannabis strains that are ten percent CBD and ten percent THC by dry weight. A 30:1 ratio is virtually the same as a 20:1 ratio – a minuscule variation in the THC measurement can dramatically shift the numerical ratio.
Which leaves us agreeing with Director Martin Lee: “naming their strain after an epileptic child at this point is unoriginal and smacks of opportunism.” Even worse is using a deceased child as a way to put Vireo Health in the headlines before their NY grand opening. Shame, Vireo Health, shame.