Statewide vertical hopeful looks to healthcare experience to provide alternative medicine
CAMP, led by President Susan Griffith and Vice President Jennifer McGuire, is a vertical applicant with dispensaries located throughout the state. With cultivation and manufacturing in St. Louis, the pair leads a team that hopes to deliver medical marijuana to dispensary facilities located in Lebanon, Smithville, St. Joseph, Moberly, and Jefferson City.
“Helping people has always been something both of us are extremely passionate about,” Griffith told Greenway Magazine. “We’ve worked in industries designed to improve lives and help those in need and the medical cannabis industry is no different. We had talked in the past about getting involved in the industry but didn’t have a clear vision of how that could happen as there wasn’t even a discussion of legalization at the time. Over the years our interest grew as we began to see, personally, how a legal medical cannabis market could positively affect some of our close family members. When the initiative petitions were circulating throughout the state in order for the ballot initiatives to be included in the 2018 election, we knew Missouri was on the brink of something wonderful. We were on vacation in Florida when we seriously started putting our ideas together on how we could successfully achieve our goals of helping patients by bringing safe, quality medicine to Missouri. The following day, Amendment 2 passed with 65% of the vote.”
The team went with a vertical facility structure to be able to see our medicine from start to finish. “We want to make sure the products we are providing patients is of superior quality. If we grow it, we know exactly what we’ve got, removing any need for second-guessing. It also enables us to effectively educate our patients on the medicine we’re providing regarding the route, dosage, and timing of consuming the medicine.”
Their vision for CAMP is to help bring life back to their patients through education and by providing the best medicine possible.
“We have provided room in our cultivation for Research and Development where we are able to focus on targeted medication designed to address the illnesses contained in Amendment XIV,” McGuire said. “We feel incredibly passionate about inclusion for all patients. We welcome patients from all walks of life and envision a space where each patient feels a connection with our patient care advocates. We want to build long-term, caring relationships with our patients.”
Where did the acronym CAMP come from?
GRIFFITH: CAMP is for Certified Alternative Medicine Providers. We wanted a name that conveyed knowledge of this beautiful medicine. We were also aware of the negative history of CAMP in California in the late ’80s and early ’90s. We wanted to change the paradigm of the connotation of CAMP bringing healing and understanding of the term to patients in Missouri.
What is one thing all patients should know about CAMP?
MCGUIRE: This is absolutely a labor of love for us. We’ve watched family members suffer, knowing that this beautiful plant could have helped them through their illnesses. We realize if we have that experience, there are thousands more in the state who can benefit from this medicine.
What is one thing you want the industry to know about CAMP?
MCGUIRE: We are incredibly excited to navigate this new industry with all of the talent in this state. There are so many wonderful people in every aspect of the industry and we look forward to lifting everyone up in providing medicine to all of the qualified patients in Missouri. There is so much that we can learn from one another and by working together we are able to positively contribute to this new adventure.
What is your and your team’s relative experience?
MCGUIRE: Susan has been in the healthcare industry for 20 years starting out in pharmaceutical sales and moving into capital equipment sales for larger healthcare institutions. She combines her medical knowledge with outstanding business acumen for a dynamic ability to navigate the industry. Jennifer began her career in the political arena advocating for children and retirees. She switched courses and became a nurse in order to positively help people in a more personal way. Getting involved in the medical cannabis industry was the next logical step in her career.
Our industry team is packed with individuals who have significant experience not only navigating the industry, but also in researching, growing, manufacturing, and marketing superior products.
Everyone on our team has been with us since the beginning of our journey. We sincerely feel that each relationship we have cultivated with our team has been purposeful and placed us where we are now.
What has been your biggest challenge thus far?
GRIFFITH: In the immortal words of Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part.” We have worked so hard for these licenses and have everything in place, ready to roll as soon as they are released. We’re checking emails 20 times a day. It’s almost like an extended Christmas morning where we’re anxious to open our presents.
What do you foresee as future challenges and opportunities for the industry?
MCGUIRE: The most obvious challenges will be compliance, education and financial. Staying on top of the ever-changing landscape in the cannabis industry is more than a full-time job. Not only are changes happening on a state-level, but federally, leaders are working towards possible legalization/decriminalization of the plant.
Education will be a huge challenge for the industry in Missouri as we’ve lived for the past 80 years with government and organizations promoting negative propaganda regarding cannabis. As other states have enacted medical use laws or adult-use laws, many have found that the old adages and misconceptions simply aren’t true. There are still many who may not have those negative conceptions, but they may not understand the plant and want to learn more. They see a purpose and are “canna-curious” in how the plant can improve their lives. We believe everyone moving into this space has the ability to positively affect the growth of the industry in this state by actively educating the public.
Financially, many licensees will be challenged by their ability to create relationships with financial institutions. With cannabis still being listed as a Schedule I drug and federally illegal, federally backed banks are unable to do business with anyone in the industry. We’ve seen a number of reports of those with very loose connections in the industry being given cancellation notices on their business accounts and personal accounts. This has been incredibly detrimental to their businesses. While the SAFE Banking Act was passed by the House of Representatives, it still faces approval in the Senate before being delivered to the President. The current political climate in Washington seems tenuous, at best, for the passage of the act in the near future.
There are a vast number of opportunities for the medical cannabis industry in Missouri, namely job creation and benefits for our veterans, patient empowerment, and a reduction in the number of opiate addictions and death.
The cannabis industry currently boasts 211,000 full-time positions in legalized cannabis states. It is estimated that between 2017 to 2020 the country will see a 110% increase in the cannabis job sector. By 2021 it’s anticipated the cannabis industry will create over 400,000 new jobs in the country. Missouri’s legalized cannabis market will directly contribute to these numbers benefiting everyone in the state through economic development and job creation. The great thing about this industry is it has the possibility to revive communities that have been left behind by other industries that have moved on. There’s nothing but economic potential for the state when looking at this particular piece of the puzzle.
Veterans will, directly and indirectly, benefit through legalized medical cannabis in Missouri with the ability to effectively choose cannabis as a natural remedy to treat conditions they have been heavily medicated with through pharmaceuticals. Additionally, veterans will receive direct financial benefits of the 4% taxation on all sales of medical cannabis. With an industry with such economic impact, we know this percentage will enable great things to happen for those who have so courageously fought for our freedom.
Patient empowerment is one of those amazing aspects of legalizing medical cannabis that we are so incredibly excited about. We are thrilled to offer targeted education for the medical conditions covered in Amendment XIV and how the various cannabinoids and terpenes interact with the endocannabinoid system to help patients benefit from this healing medicine. Armed with this education, patients will be able to make their selections based on their own individual experiences and not receive a one-size-fits-all “remedy” as with traditional pharmaceuticals.
Research has shown a 30% decrease in the amount of opiate utilization in states with legalized cannabis, be it adult-use or medical. We at CAMP feel those numbers are incredibly meaningful as we’ve had personal experiences with friends and family abusing opiates and dying as a result of them. We are committed to increasing that number and helping families get their loved ones back.