New Year / New Opportunities

In Connecticut, and across the entire northeast we are on the cusp of Adult-Use Legalization of cannabis! This is not a given. We need EVERYONE to speak up and come out of that Canna Closet! This industry is coming. We can be in front of it and help shape it, or we can get run over by it.

SO… Anyone who wants to see:

·       Grow rights

·       Equity programs

·       Expungement of Cannabis Convictions

·       Social consumption lounges

·       More growers

·       More dispensaries

·       More opportunities

I’m talking to you! If you have any suggestions or ideas then you NEED to show up and be heard by the people who actually make the decisions. If the polls show 66% in favor, we can need more than just a few of us (usually the same faces) to show up and make our voices heard. Our elected officials will NOT believe that Adult Use Legalization is actually something the people want if it’s just the voices of a few.

It does not mean that you must show up to the hearings. ANYONE can submit testimony online! It is up to you to participate and be the change, or just complain about what everyone else did. Let’s do this correctly the 1st time. We can learn from how others have succeeded and failed.

It's Midterm Election Time!

Midterm elections are here. The midterms have a lower turnout than presidential elections. Many people feel as though the midterm elections are not as important. It doesn’t help that the media doesn’t cover these elections as thoroughly as they do when there is a presidential election. This makes it even more difficult to find out where your candidates stand on the issues that matter to you. Therefore many of us decide not to vote because we feel as though these elections must not be as “important or impactful” to our current situation and we just don’t know enough (or in many cases anything) about the candidates.

The truth is that the midterms usually have more impact on each of us personally and locally than do the presidential elections. The federal government will decide the direction of the country. The local and state legislators decide what is best for your state, counties, and towns. This obviously will have an impact in your specific community. Each of us have different priorities (outside of cannabis) that will cause us to vote one way or the other. The important part is to get out there and vote. I included a few places you can quickly check out where your candidates stand.

We all have our reasons for voting and I am not interested in convincing you of anything, but please just go vote. Seriously… Go! Maybe we can reinforce to our legislators that if they are not doing what they said, or what we want… we will vote for someone who will. That is how and why our democracy is set up the way it is!

Happy Independence Day! Lets not forget why we celebrate!

I hope everyone is enjoying their July 4th with family and loved ones responsibly! It is a time for celebration and reflection. This is when we celebrate our independence and freedom. I ask that as we enjoy our holiday today we remember a few things...

1. There are thousands of veterans that have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our country so please lets remember them and their families for their willingness to protect our country!

2. We still have quite a few of those veterans that are suffering on a daily basis after coming home from defending our country! We don't respect this sacrifice enough and how we expect them to be able to adjust back into our society without any significant financial or mental support and a failing healthcare system! These friends and family members have probably barricaded themselves in their house this holiday week as everyone sets off fireworks sparking PTS and sending these vets into flashbacks! 

3. This country was founded by immigrants and on the principals of freedom of speech, religion, and civil liberties for ALL! Lets also not forget all the families that have been torn apart in the recent months by our federal government! They should be able to celebrate this day with their families too! 

4. On a lighter note, I just watched Joey Chestnut destroy Nathan's hot dog eating contest. I hope everyone else can enjoy all of the cook outs and family fun today! Be safe and enjoy your liberties on this day!

The Opiate Epidemic and Medical Marijuana

The Opiate Epidemic seems to be affecting every single one of us personally. The United States currently has about 4.3% of the world’s total population and it has been reported that we consume upwards of 80% of the world’s opiates! These numbers can all be rebutted, but the bottom line is that even if it is closer to 40%, this is still a terrible problem! Enough stats we have heard them all...

HOWEVER, these numbers only account for what is tracked on the legal market. No one is out surveying how many people are buying their Heroin, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Tramadol, and even Suboxone on the black market.

Who is to blame for the opiate epidemic?

WHO CARES?!?! It’s obviously a problem that we must deal with whether we like it or not, regardless of who is at fault.

How do we attack it?

Addiction is a disease! This disease has mental and physical elements. This means that we need to treat the whole patient (mind and body). If we learned only 1 thing from other diseases like HIV, it’s that abstinence does not work! Neither does our current rehabilitation system. So, where does this leave us…

        Answer: Medical Marijuana


Medical Marijuana can help these patients with their

  • pain (Body)
  • anxiety (Mind)
  • sleep (Body and Mind)
  • appetite (Body and Mind)
  • tremors (Body)
  • can help reduce cravings (Body and Mind)
  • NOT possible to die from an overdose
  • less than 9% addiction rate
  • lower cost on our healthcare system

We do not have to trade an addiction to opiates, heroin, or Fentanyl for an addiction to Methadone or Suboxone. The numbers show these methods still have very high relapse rates. 

This does not mean that Medical Marijuana is a miracle cure! Recovery is a team effort! It takes a patient who wants to get clean, a strong and understanding support system, and therapy (lots and lots of therapy). Marijuana may be a "Gateway drug" after all. Just not the direction that was originally thought.

Seems like a couple of very simple arguments to me. Why not allow this to happen? We can’t afford to not at least try! We owe it to our friends, family, neighbors and loved ones who are suffering! We just signed the “right to try”… let’s make it legal, easier, healthier and cheaper to do so.

What if Medical Marijuana was Covered by Insurance?

One of the biggest issues that patients have with medical marijuana (MM) is its cost! Anyone you ask will tell you that they can’t afford all of their medication. Many will then discuss how insurance should be covering it for them. Their argument is “I am taking it for a medical condition and my doctor has recommended I use it.”


As a pharmacist who worked for one of the nations largest retail pharmacy chains for 16 years, I feel as though I can offer a different perspective. Have you ever looked at a pharmacist face behind the counter? They don’t look like very happy people. A typical day is spent arguing with the doctors about what drugs are covered, what drugs are not, and why! Then once you get past that and get the medication changed to something “equivalent” that is approved by the insurance company, you get to explain all of this to the patient. Which would typically lead to a conversation similar to the one you already had with the doctor to begin with. Followed by a “discussion” about why the copay is so high and it’s not even what the doctor had written for. This is also partly what can lead to medications becoming unavailable by a manufacturer. When too many insurance companies restrict patients to the same drug and that manufacturer was not properly prepared for the sudden spike in demand. This is how big pharma and insurance companies work together to drive up demand and costs.

NOW… are you still sure you want insurance companies covering your MM?

If they do, they will begin restricting:

  • How much you can purchase
  • Where you can purchase it (They will have “preferred” dispensaries)
  • When you can purchase it (how frequently)
  • What delivery methods/strengths
  • How much you pay for it
  • Even where it comes from (as I am sure they will have “preferred” growers too)

My Recommendation:

What we want insurance to help subsidize your MM! Allstate insurance got it right! We can have a “Good Patient” check that insurance companies send to their patients. If the patient is able to decrease their medications, ER/Hospital/Dr office/Walk in visits, and continue to keep their health stable or improved according to their annual doctor visit. If for example the patient saves their insurance company $500 then the insurance company can reimburse you a % of that. So maybe you get a check for $200. That is subsidizing your medical marijuana.

Now, it may not be as much as you would like, or have spent but, as they say, “Something is better than nothing!” AND studies show your own medical costs decrease over time. Just think, you are spending less in co-pays for medication, and ER/Dr visits is also subsidizing your medical marijuana. And there is also the whole part about improving your quality of life part too.

CannaBanking: We Want to be Regulated... mostly

What are we going to do? I recently had my bank account closed by CHASE because of the “type” of business I own. When I had originally spoken with the bank representative I explained what I was doing. I explained very clearly and emphasized that I would have NO direct contact with marijuana. I was told that was fine and there were no problems with my business. Then, 2 months later I received the letter stating that “After a recent review of your account, we have decided to end our relationship with you.” I tried to explain to them again that I had no direct contact with marijuana! I am only counseling, educating, and consulting patients and businesses regarding medical marijuana. I asked if this meant they would not do business with companies like Miracle Grow (and other large companies) that are now getting into the very lucrative cannabis industry? And what about all of the other ancillary products that will be sold such as light bulbs, packaging materials, computer software, and security companies just to name a few. Are they going to do business with them? The response I got was just a look of uhhhhhhhh...?? And a shrug of the shoulders followed by “I’m sorry. This was not my decision. I am on your side here.” I explained how terrible this is for small businesses! Especially in a state like CT where our BIG businesses (i.e. GE) are running out of the state faster than the weather changes in New England!

I recently read an article and will share the important part here…

Will mounting political support for legal marijuana usher in banking solutions?

Published May 1, 2018 | By Lisa Bernard-Kuhn on


“Klein argues that a “complex web” of federal rules could still deter banks from doing business with cannabis companies, depending on the specific policies lawmakers choose to press forward with.

In April, the U.S. Small Business Administration updated its lending rules to prohibit banks from issuing SBA-backed loans to businesses that work directly or indirectly with the cannabis and hemp industries “because federal law prohibits the sale and distribution of marijuana.”


Descheduling marijuana, Klein said, could likely have the most impact on banking practices going forward.

Removing cannabis from the list of scheduled substances could lift some requirements placed on banks to file “suspicious activity reports” and follow time-intensive, costly guidelines when accepting money tied to legal marijuana.

But even if the drug is descheduled, most experts expect cannabis companies will still face pricier banking fees and stricter reporting guidelines.”


There are a few bills Congress is rumored to be in the works right now that are supposed to address this exact issue. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has flipped his position and has said he plans to introduce legislation to decriminalize cannabis. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are saying they are working on legislation that will give the states the right to decide on their own cannabis laws. It seems as though this might make things more complicated as the big banks are still regulated federally. Also brings into question if the money is insured by FDIC. It looks like we are going to have more questions than answers for the near future.

As the article stated, bottom line… we will be waiting for quite some time to get cannabis banking regulated! Anyone who is waiting for that to happen is going to be holding their breath for a while. It is hopeful that with some of these very powerful former legislators who are changing their views and are now getting involved in the industry themselves. Let’s hope they try to move things along a little more efficiently. I do agree that we need to make sure it is done right the 1st time. Otherwise it could be a disaster for the industry and possibly the entire economy.

Big Things Happening in the Northeast Over the Past Few Weeks!

It has been quite a ride for cannabis over the past few weeks here in the Northeast!

Most of the talk has surrounded legalizing marijuana for adult use:

· Massachusetts is gearing up to start legally selling Marijuana to adults July 1st. 

· Vermont legalized grow rights for its residents, but not retail sales. 

· Maine has approved legalized sale of Marijuana for adult use but has hit a few road blocks between the legislature and the Governor. 

· New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has expanded their Medical Marijuana program significantly and is saying that he wants to legalize sale for adult use. 

· New York State’s Governor Cuomo just said yesterday that he is setting up a commission to look at the potential effects of legalization in NY State (this is a complete turnaround from his previous position).

· Connecticut has a bit harder path than other states because everything has to go through the state legislature. Last week was a massive win for proponents of legalized adult use! The Appropriations Committee passed HB5394 out of Committee to the General Assembly by a vote of 27-24. This came against strong opposition! This is the first time (in numerous attempts) that a bill has made it out of Committee.  This was the result of grassroots efforts by some local activists, citizens, patients and some of the medical community educating our legislators!

I think this is a great thing and I have been trying to do my part. I believe that if people have access to marijuana in a legal, regulated, and safer system than currently available to responsible adults, that is a good thing! I believe that there are benefits to marijuana that we have not even realized yet! If the state and its residents can benefit from the tax revenue, that is a great thing as well!


So… What worries me?!?!

I do not want to see the medical benefits and healing properties of cannabis be forgotten! It is easy with all the media attention, and social acceptance for Medical Marijuana to get lost in the fights for adult use.

I have been lucky enough to witness first-hand the many MEDICAL benefits of cannabis! I have been able to guide patients through the “scary and intimidating” landscape of cannabis. Especially in a state like Connecticut where they require the producers to use made up names for the products. This makes it very difficult for patients to know what each specific strain is, and what effects it might cause.

The problem I see is that patients are being told of the benefits of cannabis. These patients then typically have trouble finding more information on its benefits and risks. This is where it is VITAL that there are medical professionals available to discuss their options with them.

With legalization I believe that the patients who are just curious, are being coaxed by a family member or friend, are less likely to walk into a dispensary not knowing what is on the other side of that door. Or what kind of guidance they will be receiving. It is the success stories of those skeptical patients that are now benefiting from cannabis who will make many more patients, like them, take that leap of faith as well.

We need to make sure that whatever direction this industry takes we do no lose these patients. I believe that they can get some of the biggest benefit from the medication! Typically, these are the patients who don’t take their prescription medications as instructed because they are concerned with the side effects. When we inform the patients that they do not have to get high or even smoke anything, their ears (yes, their ears) open and they begin listening to what you are saying!    

I beg that we just don’t all lose sight of these patients who have been neglected or lost through our current healthcare system and are just looking to improve their quality of life! Let’s help them do so!


Hello! Welcome to the next level of education, counseling, and consulting in the Medical Marijuana industry.

I was the Dispensary Manager at one of CT's busiest dispensaries for almost 3 years. I am also a pharmacist with over 16 years of experience in retail and hospital pharmacy. I have immersed myself into the Medical Marijuana industry over the past few years and found my true passion in healthcare.

I have counseled patients who have been able to improve their quality of life dramatically, while also improving their outcomes and becoming more active participants in their life. Many of my patients have been able to decrease, and in some cases, eliminate their prescription medications (including opiates, anti-seizure, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and anti-depressants)! 

Currently, I see that the vast majority of people you speak with at a dispensary have difficulty finding adequate time to answer the ALL of the pressing questions of each patient. This causes significant hesitancy and confusion when deciding to use medical marijuana. This also makes it difficult to begin dosing and to be able to adjust appropriately. Things get increasingly more challenging in an industry where the products available, as well as, the delivery methods are constantly changing. It is almost necessary to have someone who knows what you are looking for to help guide you through this process. This is where I hope to help.

I am here to help guide patients from the beginning and all throughout their journey with Medical Marijuana. It is an amazing thing to have patients come back to you in shock of how much one plant can improve their quality of life so dramatically. I look forward to helping as many of you as I can to improve your quality of life and your personal health goals!

Thank you for your time,

Brian Essenter, RPh