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New medical marijuana pills, first of their kind, to be sold at Riverhead dispensary

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A new form of medical marijuana pills – the first of their kind in the nation – will now be available at Riverhead’s medical marijuana dispensary on East Main Street.

The pills are controlled dose, solid-fill capsules, making it easier for patients to take more precise dosages of their medication rather than requiring them to measure it out themselves.

For patients whose disabilities affect their fine motor skills, such as those living with multiple sclerosis or epilepsy, such a development can make a large impact.

“This is an important development because it will make administering medical marijuana far more convenient and more accessible for patients with fine motor control limitations,” said Evelyn Bubb, a representative of Columbia Care.

Columbia Care opened its Riverhead dispensary in January. It is is the only one in Suffolk County and one of just two on Long Island. Columbia Care is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers and distributors of medical marijuana, and it is one of five companies in New York State that is legally permitted to grow and sell medical marijuana.

Medical marijuana is currently only available to patients with a limited number of severe, debilitating or life-threatening conditions, such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

Under state law, the drug is only available in non-smokable forms. Columbia Care has provided the medication in the form of vaporizable concentrates and sublingual tinctures.

But the launch of new controlled-dose capsules will make the medication more accessible and convenient to many patients, Columbia Care says.

“Columbia Care’s mission is to improve lives,” said Nicholas Vita, Columbia Care CEO. “We are proud to offer this new, proprietary, pharmaceutical formulation as the first-of-its-kind in the United States.”

The capsules, which are currently patent-pending, are filled with a powder – which means that, unlike liquid-fill capsules, do not carry the risk of leakage, according to a Columbia Care announcement. In addition to making dosages more precise and convenient, Columbia Care says the capsules “may extend the intended benefits of the medicine beyond that of a tincture or vaporization oil, resulting in fewer doses per day and potentially better long-term symptom control.”

The New York State Department of Health approved the capsule for dispensing in all four of Columbia Care’s New York dispensaries.

Columbia Care will offer the capsule in three different formulations, providing different options to suit the needs of each individual patient and their medical condition.

Next year, the company plans to make the capsule available in other Columbia Care dispensaries around the nation, beginning with Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts and Washington D.C.

Katie Blasl
Katie, winner of the 2016 James Murphy Cub Reporter of the Year award from the L.I. Press Club, is a reporter, editor and web developer for the LOCAL news websites. A Riverhead native, she is a 2014 graduate of Stony Brook University. Email Katie