By Melissa Hutsell
This year, New York is expected become the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize cannabis for both medical and recreational use. The state currently has about 75,000 medical cannabis patients. In December 2018, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his plan to bring the state into the retail market, a move that could generate more than a billion dollars in sales each year.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” he said in a speech that outlined the first 100 days of his third term.
One company—Etain Health—is on a mission to ensure New York consumers have access to safe, quality cannabis products.
The company is based in Chestertown, New York. It is the first and only female-owned and operated business of its type in the state. It’s also family-run. Its founders include Amy, Hillary and Keeley Peckham.
The company was founded in December 2014, the same year that New York passed its Compassionate Care Act. The Peckhams applied for, and received a license the following summer. Now they own and operate four dispensaries located in New York City, Kingston, Yonkers and Syracuse.
Compassion was the driving force behind the company’s foundation. It’s founders launched the business after the loss of a family member, affectionately known as Granny Fanny, who suffered from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS “is a type of motor neuron disease in which nerve cells gradually break down and die.”
“My mother [Amy] was the caretaker for our grandmother [Frances Keeffe]. She started end-of-life care, and was given different medication,” Hillary explained. “We knew we could not cure her illness, but we could [treat] her with different pharmaceuticals.”
At one point, Hillary noted that Frances was taking 25 different medications. Her doctor recommended medical cannabis—but at the time, there was no legal way of procuring it in New York.
After Frances’ passing, her family continued to research cannabis as medicine. They were captivated by the anecdotes of success that patients were having around country. When the Compassionate Care Act passed in 2014, they knew it would be an opportunity to help fellow New Yorkers access medical cannabis, and they formed Etain Health.
The company takes its name from the women’s Irish ancestry. “Etain [pronounced eh–tane] is a Gaelic goddess […]; the name represents multiple forms of women,” said Hillary. “Mostly though, it’s an homage to my mom,” she added.
While its namesake honors its founders, Etain’s past and future endeavors are all dedicated to Granny Franny. That includes the research, discovery and innovation of cannabis as medicine.
The company is committed to finding new and easy ways to use cannabis. So far, Etain has developed its own vaporizers, oils, and water-soluble powders.
The team is also currently interested in participating in clinical studies.
Etain has developed its own brand of oil-based products, such as tinctures, sublinguals, capsules, oral sprays and vaporizers. “We just came out with a water-soluble powder, kind of like Gatorade powders,” Hillary said.
Etain is the first MMJ company in New York State to offer a liquid-soluble THC powder, according to Marijuana Business Daily, though similar products are being sold in other states. The powder has no taste and can be used with any liquid, such as coffee, water or juice. Like all of Etain’s products, it’s made with all-natural ingredients, including beet sugar and cannabis oil.
Each of Etain’s products offers a distinct cannabinoid profile that was developed to help alleviate symptoms of certain conditions. Dolce, for example, is high in CBD; it’s intended for patients who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease or epilepsy. The formula is available in capsule, tincture, sublingual, vaporizer and oral spray forms.
Mezzo products contain 2:1 CBD to THC. They help to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), neuropathies, spinal cord damage, epilepsy, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Other formulations include Etain’s Balance and Forte brands, which also come in powder forms. Balance is made with 1:1 CBD to THC, while Forte is high in THC with only trace amounts of CBD. Forte is made for patients who suffer from HIV/AIDS, ALS, cancer, neuropathies and spinal cord damage.
Etain’s plants are grown in a 25,000-square-foot facility in Warren County, upstate New York. All plants grow indoors in greenhouses, Hillary explained. The company is planning on expanding, which will include doubling the size of the current growing operation.
In the meantime, the company is committed to providing safe access to cannabis to all New Yorkers in need.
“[We’re] pretty certain we are going to see a proposal in the next month or two on adult use and how that’s going to be regulated,” she said. “What’s really important is ensuring that the quality standards are maintained to ensure consumer protection.”