Robin Lefferts October 18th, 2018 Exclusive, Feature Stories, News With California’s adult-use legalization fresh in investors’ minds, and full legalization happening in Canada, much... Who is Focused on the Huge Opportunity in Medical Cannabis?

Robin Lefferts

October 18th, 2018

Exclusive, Feature Stories, News


With California’s adult-use legalization fresh in investors’ minds, and full legalization happening in Canada, much of the focus has been around the retail potential of cannabis and related products. That is quite a change from even a couple of years ago, when the disruptive potential of medical marijuana was the biggest topic. In the intervening time, nothing has diminished the potential of medical cannabis but the headlines have moved to beverages and retail distribution. It may be worth another look to see what companies are executing in the medical arena.

One such player is Empower Clinics (CSE: EPW). The company currently owns physician-staffed clinics in Oregon, Washington, and Illinois, providing expert medical care to more than 25,000 registered patients across its network. Empower is capitalizing on a vacuum in the medical industry, where patients are increasingly seeking less harmful alternatives to currently prescribed treatments like opioids while traditionally-trained doctors lack the necessary training or comfort level to prescribe medical cannabis. Empower Clinics offer the type of care and expertise that is often lacking for patients interested in cannabis, many of whom turn to their local budtenders or the Internet for treatment advice due to a lack of valid medical opinions.

Empower’s Medical Clinic Model

Specialized clinics are increasingly popular throughout North America. Pain clinics, sleep clinics, cancer clinics… the biggest and most common indications spur the development of clinics to specifically address those conditions. Empower is turning that approach sideways a bit, offering specialized medical cannabis clinics that can help patients with a variety of indications rather than focusing on one condition. But the effect is similar. Just as someone with chronic pain may turn to a specialist after striking out with the family physician, a patient interested in cannabis as an alternative therapy may turn to doctors with expertise in the field rather than relying on the family physician who may be uncomfortable with or simply unaware of the therapeutic uses for cannabis.

A study of 926 Washington cancer patients shows that 74% wanted information on cannabis from their cancer providers, but less than 15% received information from their physician or nurse. Most received information from friends, family, websites, articles, or other cancer patients. Statistics like this justify Empower’s approach to offering expert medical cannabis advice from physicians.

The model has been proven in Oregon, where Empower Clinics has issued more than 30% of the state’s medical cannabis cards. Seeing the success there, Empower expanded into Washington where it has 9 clinics. Empower recently opened a clinic in downtown Chicago, and Illinois is a very interesting market. In the first three years of the state’s medical marijuana program, through September 2017, the Department of Public Health approved 24,000 patients. In the year since, that number has nearly doubled to 44,000 patients with no sign of slowing.

In late August, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill that made it easier to get a medical cannabis card in a number of ways. The headliner was the fact that the law made it easier to prescribe cannabis as an alternative to opioids for the treatment of pain. Everybody is aware of the epidemic of opioid abuse, and Illinois has chosen to directly address the problem by encouraging the use of cannabis as a substitute. Empower plans to explore further expansion in the state.

Parallel Product Development and Distribution

Medical cannabis users often, for understandable reasons related to health, would prefer to not smoke the flower if at all possible. Alternative delivery methods, like tinctures or topical creams, are gaining market share as the science of cannabinoid delivery catches up following years of research prohibition. Empower recognizes the demand for these types of products and has developed its own line of non-THC, hemp-derived CBD products. The company’s Sollievo line of CBD products is expected to launch nationally soon, as the CBD products are legal throughout the United States.

Empower is also developing similar cannabinoid-based products for a variety of the most common indications, like sleep, pain, stress and digestion. The company plans to leverage its own client base while also distributing outside of its own network of clinics, providing the potential for a significantly wider revenue stream.

In the meantime, Empower signed a distribution agreement with Integrated Cannabis Company to distribute ICC’s CBD-infused X-SPRAYS™ line of products to Empower patients. The sprays are intended to support sleep, libido, energy and recovery. Deals like this provide Empower another source of potential revenue while expanding the treatments available to its ever expanding roster of patients.

Looking Ahead

Empower Clinics is undertaking a two-pronged strategy to address the shortage of trusted expertise in the medical cannabis market. Expansion of its proven clinic model, along with development and distribution of specialized cannabis-based treatments, is ramping up and should continue over the coming quarters. As the level of scientific cannabis research explodes and the political environment surrounding the plant softens, Empower’s position as an early mover in key markets could prove beneficial for the company as it seeks to stay ahead of the medical cannabis curve.

Disclaimer

The above article is sponsored content. Emerging Growth LLC, which owns CannabisFN.com and CFN Media, has been hired to create awareness. Please follow the link below to view our full disclosure outlining our compensation: http://www.cannabisfn.com/legal-disclaimer/

About Robin Lefferts


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