Medical marijuana company looking to nursing homes as potential customers

A New York company that grows and sells medical marijuana is attempting to tap into the skilled nursing industry to find new customers.

The state launched its medical marijuana program over a year ago, the New York Daily News reported, but the market has been tough since few patients and doctors are willing to complete the registration process.

Etain, one of the companies licensed by the state to grow and distribute marijuana, has turned to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to provide medical marijuana services and find new customers. So far, one nursing home has contracted with the company in what's thought to be the first such partnership in New York.

"We consider it a very vital [part] of our strategy for outreach and building a customer base,” Hillary Peckham, Etain's founder and chief operations officer, told the Daily News. “It is really important because right now there really isn't a demand for the product."

The partnership being pushed by Etain would have the company working with a skilled nursing facility's clinical staff to register residents to receive the drug. Etain would then deliver marijuana to directly to residents or their families, who would be responsible for administering the drug.

Some providers have expressed concerns about bringing medical marijuana into their facilities due to the state and federal regulations involved, including provisions that prohibit healthcare workers from administering the drug to patients, Peckham added.

The controversial arrangement has been met with some criticism from lawmakers who fear employees will steal the drug for their own use. But Stephen Hanse, president of the New York State Health Facilities Association, believes arrangements like the one offered by Etain will become more popular as time goes on.

“At the end of the day, we are in the business of providing patient care and if this is something that would be of benefit to patients, I believe it will catch on," Hanse told the Daily News.