When New York cannabis dispensaries began opening in 2016, patients were disappointed to learn that flower would not be on the menu. Only vape pens, tinctrures and gel caps were available.
That continued for three years until Curaleaf started selling small quantities of ground flower in its four New York shops in 2019. In a press release, the multi-state operator (MSO) said it would start providing "New York's medical cannabis patients a new method to take their medicine by offering ground flower pods which are used in medical vaporizers. Each Curaleaf Ground Flower Pod contains 350 mg of active cannabinoids – a total of 700 mg per 3.5 g package – in a 20:1 THC:CBD ratio in indica and sativa strains."
However, it appears that Curaleaf did not seek approval from the Department of Health (DOH) to sell any form of marijuana flower or buds. On September 2, the company was ordered by the DOH to recall all such products from their stores. Flower products have been removed from the New York website.
An action alert posted at Facebook by the NY MMJ Watchdog Page reads, in part:
"Are you pissed that DOH has pulled all Curaleaf ground flower from NYS dispensaries? Does this negatively affect your quality of life. We need to let DOH know that ground flower to the point of being powder is not plant medicine. Patients were starting to enjoy the benefits of cannabinoid and terpen-rich cannabis in its purest and cheapest form. What DOH think they are doing by causing this disruption to our medicine. Over the definition of the word 'ground'?"
Apparently, the DOH had two reasons for the recall: 1) the flower wasn't ground enough and 2) Curaleaf started selling "extra-strength" ground flower.
Curaleaf issued the following statement on September 3:
"Curaleaf has been asked to temporarily stop the sale of our ground flower products in New York after a recent complaint to the Department of Health over the size of our flower. We want to reiterate to our patient community that Curaleaf adheres to all state regulations for our product assortment and we implement the highest testing and quality controls which consistently exceed state regulations. Our team is currently working closely with the DOH to resolve the issue and will be resuming the sale of ground flower to our patient community across New York as quickly as possible. We will keep you updated."
The strains sell for $50 (an eighth) and $70 (a quarter). They're supposed to be vaporized, not smoked.
In a FAQ at their website, Curaleaf states:
"NY state regulations do not permit the sale of whole flower. However, our Ground Flower Pods, and now, Ground Flower Refills are available. New York patients are simply cheering over this addition to their state’s product selection, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer it."
The pods and refills were originally small Keurig-style containers. Curaleaf no longer uses them.
One of the other registered organizations in New York (there are 10), Columbia Care, is currently offering ground flower at its stores. Etain had been selling ground flower until recently. Neither company has not been asked to recall these products.
Known as the largest MSO, Curaleaf operates 90 dispensaries in 23 states. The company was originally named PalliaTech in 2010 before Russian-American billionaire and current CEO Boris Jordan and Sputnik purchased 33% in 2013. The company was renamed in 2018. Curaleaf expanded significantly with the purchase of Grassroots Cannabis for $875 million in 2019.