When we announced the launch of Ground Flower Refills in New York last spring, our patient community couldn’t have been happier. So, when the sale of this long-awaited option came to a halt, it was a shock to our entire community—staff and patients alike!
Naturally, there have been lots of questions. Since “Ask us anything!” is a Curaleaf mantra, let’s hold a little Q and A to cover this story. Starting with…
Why is New York so against the sale of whole flower?
If you’re not privy to New York’s history with flower, well, find a comfortable chair!
The short of the story is this: New York State’s Medical Cannabis Program does not permit the sale of whole flower for the purpose of combustion, a.k.a., smoking. This restriction is due to the program’s stance that smoking is not a safe, effective delivery method for medication, although many New Yorkers remain skeptical that patient safety is the one true reason for this ban. Regardless, we all know that the uses for whole flower extend beyond smoking alone! Funny enough, that very notion is exactly why we’re here to tell this saga.
So whole flower’s not okay, but ground flower is?
Yup! While flower cannot be sold with the intention to smoke it, vaping flower is indeed (and thankfully) deemed acceptable. For this reason, cannabis retailers—like us—submitted what’s called a Product Brand Approval Request [PBAR], to offer our patients flower in pod-like vessels, which are designed for use with a tabletop vaporizer. When state officials approved this request, New York medical cannabis patients enjoyed a flower option on the menu for the first time ever. Cue the rejoicing!
If it was approved, what was the problem?
That’s the big question. The answer, believe it or not, comes down to semantics.
In September 2019, Curaleaf was the first dispensary in New York to release ground flower in pods. In March 2020, we released Ground Flower Pod Refills, which contained the same ground flower in bulk-style jars—still suitable for the intended use, but much more convenient.
These refills were produced using the same manufacturing processes, thus they contained flower of identical grind size to the original pods. However, once we eliminated that concealing pod, only then did the size of our grind come under scrutiny. It was at this time that the NY Department of Health received a complaint that we were selling “whole flower.”
Anyone who has seen whole flower before can tell you that this product was NOT whole. Yet because it wasn’t ground as finely as the DOH required—despite there being no clear definition of what constitutes “properly ground,”—we were ordered to remove the product from our shelves. This happened on September 2nd, 2020, after nearly seven months of being available without incident.
Does this sort of thing happen often in the cannabis industry?
Not at all. That’s part of what makes it so frustrating. New York’s testing and quality measures are some of the strictest in the nation, so products don’t make it to the shelf unless they’re top-notch. At Curaleaf, we make it a point to go above and beyond those strict measures—even in the more relaxed states in which we operate! Yet because of this grey area on grind size, patients endured months without their preferred form of medication while we worked with the DOH to resolve the issue.
Why did it take so long to resolve?
Since the moment the DOH halted the sale of Ground Flower Refills, we have tirelessly pursued a path for the product’s return. Working directly with the DOH to define the approved grind size, we now have a mutual understanding as to exactly what that means.
Despite resolving the size issue, the DOH required that our product be fully retested to ensure no further contamination; a testing protocol that takes a minimum of three to four weeks to complete for each individual lot. This process is very cumbersome, not to mention dependent on the bandwidth of the testing labs. Thus, the excessive delay was an unfortunate result.
So, what can I expect from your Ground Flower now?
The most important thing to know is that what you receive now is the same high-quality, medical-grade flower as before. The only change? It’s now ground to the newly designated specification of less than 5mm in diameter per piece.
If that sounds really small, it’s because it is. As for WHY 5mm was dubbed the magic number, your guess is as good as ours.
Here’s a look at the actual product, ground to spec:
Also noteworthy: With a finer grind, the product is apt to settle in the jar. We sell our product by weight; so even if it looks less full, you aren’t receiving any less than you’re promised.
Is there any good news?
We are ultimately sensitive to our patients’ needs, and we know what a disappointment it was to see Ground Flower Refills disappear for so long. We also know it’s a bummer to see the grind so fine today. We fought the good fight for the benefit of our thousands of patients, and while the outcome wasn’t what we hoped, we still consider the comeback of Ground Flower Refills to be great news.
You’ll also be happy to hear that we’ve lowered the price; it’s our way of saying “thank you” for your patience and understanding. As always, Curaleaf is proud to offer you the best variety of cannabis options possible, and we’ll stop at nothing to keep it that way.
Don’t forget to pre-order.
We’re honored that you’ve stuck with us through this ordeal! Now that Ground Flower is back, it's in high demand. With our dispensaries experiencing a high volume of orders, we strongly recommend pre-ordering to skip the wait and ensure availability upon arrival!
FIND YOUR LOCAL CURALEAF to pre-order today.
Make your voice heard.
If you’re a medical cannabis patient in New York, you know that this program’s positive momentum is being challenged. You know that flower is the most cost-effective, palliative benefit for medication, and that it’s simply not fair to be denied the ability to choose what works best for you.
The New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association has made it incredibly easy to contact your legislators with the demand for access to affordable, whole flower for New Yorkers. It takes but only a minute to send an email using this simple form: https://p2a.co/qlivi1k
Challenge your representatives.
We’ve partnered with the Cannabis Voter Project to help inform cannabis voters on the issues at hand, and to help patients connect with elected officials who can influence a brighter outcome for the future of your cannabis program, be it in New York, or the state you call home!
Contact your elected officials to ask where they stand on cannabis issues, and how they plan to turn the tides to make cannabis accessible, equitable, safe, and affordable for ALL.