On May 4, Ilera Healthcare opened a medical marijuana dispensary in Plymouth Meeting. Ilera is not the first dispensary in the region, but it is the first to open with a vertically integrated license that allows the company to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana. “We didn’t just grow cannabis. We formulated medicines,” explains Oludare Odumosu, Ph.D., the COO of Ilera Healthcare. “And we didn’t just enter the cannabis business. We entered the pharmaceutical space.”
Odumosu himself is evidence of that approach. A biochemist who also holds a degree in epidemiology, Odumosu has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including shepherding products through clinical trials to get FDA approval. Convoluted federal regulations make FDA approval impossible for Ilera’s products, but because the company is a grower, processor and distributor, it is working on fine-tuning its own formulations. “Clinical trials would be ideal, but we can generate some data,” Odumosu says. “We are starting to dial in very specifically for unique indications.”
Those indications are the 21 conditions for which medical marijuana has been approved in Pennsylvania. Ailment strain alignment – which is pretty much what it sounds like – is the next wave of medical marijuana, one touted by cannabis medicine experts like Chanda Macias, Ph.D. Odumosu says that process is well underway at Ilera’s 67,000 square foot grow in Waterfall. There, Ilera is growing its own strains, as well as a few from Tikun Olam, an Israeli company that is an international leader in developing and researching medical marijuana. “Tikun Olam published peer reviewed, scientific articles and that, for me as a scientist, was a big draw,” Odumosu explains. “We partnered with Tikun Olam to grow their strains and develop products that bring together our fields of expertise.”
Ilera’s vertically integrated license allows it to open two more dispensaries, though Odumosu declined to say where or when those will open. This month will see a flurry of other dispensary openings. Restore Integrative Wellness Center will the first to open inside Philadelphia’s city limits. The Fishtown location will begin serving patients in mid-May. Beyond/Hello opens its Bristol dispensary on May 11. Backed by Franklin BioScience, one of Colorado’s cannabis powerhouses, Beyond/Hello plans to collaborate with the Rothman Institute to observe marijuana’s effect on chronic pain.