Vireo Health: Delivering a Smokescreen to NY!

Jay Lauren

Vireo Health’s tasteless promotion: false claims and the exploitation of the memory of a deceased child, as part of their NY State “grand opening”.

When New Yorkers in need wake up in the New Year, they can finally look forward to accessing medical marijuana. As head’s up, we’ve just got a taste of what that may mean.
Vireo Health introduced Minnesota TV audiences last Thursday morning (on FoxCBS and ABC) to a new “super high CBD strain”, making claims it might be the most potent cannabis CBD strain in the world.
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 eight-year old Minnesota girl who passed away from complications associated with Battens Disease, which causes seizures. According to their press release:
“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 it appears as if these claims were part of a media campaign to put Vireo Health’s name in the news.
  • We were provided with lab results that have not been substantiated. The lab has not verified the report is genuine, nor does the report contain actual data.
  • We do not know how the product was tested, or how many batches were tested. Growers sometimes use the best result and extrapolate this claim over the whole crop, but real results require averaging.
  • The claim that the strain will REDUCE costs for patients (due to higher CBD content) is unproven: final costs are driven by a crop’s yield. If the crop’s yield is low and demand high, this will result in a higher price, not the reverse.
  • The claim of the “highest CBD” strain in the world is untrue. Charlotte’s WebTM also tested at a range near 35:1, but according to its patent owners is now stabilized in the range of 26:1 to 30:1.
According to the Director of Project CBD, Martin A Lee, and the author of Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana — Medical, Recreational and Scientific.
“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 CBD:THC cannabis strains that are ten percent CBD and ten percent THC by dry weight. A 30:1 CBD:THC ratio is virtually the same as a 20:1 ratio – a minuscule variation in the THC measurement can dramatically shift the numerical ratio.”
Even if it did mean something, when Vireo Health opens its doors in New York, this Minnesota strain will not be available, as product cannot cross state lines. Which leaves us agreeing with Martin Lee: “naming their ‘new’ strain after an epileptic child at this point is unoriginal and smacks of opportunism.” Even worse is naming it after a deceased child, as a way to put a company in the news before a grand opening in NY.
Welcome to the world of marijuana, New York State!