Nicholas Vita – Chief Executive Officer at Columbia Care, LLC
Columbia Care LLC is the U.S.’s largest and most experienced provider of medical cannabis and medical cannabis-derived products and related services. In October, the firm’s co-founder and CEO, Nicholas Vita, was named CEO Monthly Magazine’s 2018 CEO of the Year for bringing innovation and leadership to the industry and for introducing mainstream corporate best practices to this young, burgeoning sector. Following this well-deserved win, we spoke with Nicholas to find out how he has spearheaded the growth of this important emerging medical cannabis market.
Few emerging markets hold as much potential as the global cannabis industry. As one of the global leaders operating in the sector, Columbia Care has forged a promising future for itself, a future defined by seemingly limitless growth and new opportunities at every corner. Despite obvious challenges, the industry has gone from basement to mainstream over the last five years due to increasing support from policymakers, positive independent validation and organizations working with a small class of corporate leaders to bring legitimacy, financial capital, talent and operating expertise where none existed. Indeed, the opportunities created by the normalization of cannabis is spawning a new breed of company, from specialized investment funds to the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and beverage industries – unthinkable only a few years ago.
Columbia Care operates in 13 of the most populous states in the U.S., giving it the ability to reach more than half of the U.S. population with its transformative pharmaceuticalquality medicines, novel wellness Leading the Way in Medical CannabisOct18015
products and supplements, proprietary branded consumer products and patented delivery technologies.
The Company provides the highest-quality and most consistent cannabis-based medicines that are continuously being improved and validated based on new medical research and real patient reported outcomes. Today, Columbia Care has licenses to operate in New York, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland, California, Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and Puerto Rico and expects to expand quickly both inside and outside of the U.S. in the coming months.
Throughout my conversation with Nicholas it quickly became clear that Columbia Care’s concerns are not, by any means, purely financial.
The patients and the communities that the company serves remain utterly at the heart of their organizational mission and business. Columbia Care was launched with the goal of tackling many of the world’s unmet medical needs using the unique chemicals inherent in the cannabis plant. Nicholas took a moment to explain: “We are developing cannabis-based medicines to treat side-effects associated with many terminal and chronic conditions, such as HIV/AIDs, glaucoma, epilepsy, and chronic pain.” Many of these conditions have often proven difficult, if not impossible, to treat through ‘conventional’ means, but recent research, including studies sponsored by or involving Columbia Care products, has shown that medical cannabis can be an effective therapy with a better side effect profile and fewer risks than traditional therapies.
This plays intrinsically into the Company’s fundamental values, which are focused on the patient experience. “Our efforts center around patient satisfaction, product consistency and safety, and advancing research, education and innovation,” said Nicholas. At the heart of its operations and innovation engine, Columbia Care maintains and continually adds to the world’s largest registry of voluntary patient feedback and product analysis. This enables the Company to apply real patient outcomes as it works to create new, innovative products. Nicholas believes patient focus is a real driver for Columbia Care’s success, explaining, “This commitment to our patients and
the work we do to constantly improve their lives makes us a leader in the industry. We are dedicated to using rigorous scientific techniques and data analytics to drive product innovation for our patients. We currently offer over 15 delivery options that contain proprietary formulations encompassing precisely measured amounts of the top 12 cannabinoids, including full spectrum terpene and flavonoid profiles. Using this combination of data, chemistry and experience enables us to continue to work on finding additional novel formulations and methods of delivery so as to always provide patients with a positive experience and an improved quality of life.”
“We are deeply committed to advancing medical cannabis innovation and research through collaborations with world renowned academic institutions. The human and financial resources we have dedicated to this effort help us to actively and continually study and validate the benefits and risks associated with using our products, which are precisely manufactured to replicate the consistency and quality of a traditional pharmaceutical product.
Since its inception, Columbia Care has been involved in more than 800,000 successful patient interactions across its dozens of dispensaries. From the outset, the Company has been dedicated to exceeding patient expectations, guaranteeing – to the best of their considerable ability – that the individual needs of the patient are satiated. Nicholas and his team understand that every individual is different and patients are treated with the professionalism that you would expect from any medical establishment. “Our dedicated professionals, many of whom are licensed pharmacists, spend time with each patient to fully understand his or her specific medical needs and recommend the best Columbia Care medicinal format, formulation and dose. Each one of our dispensaries has a dedicated area for patient care where patients can meet privately with pharmacists or other team members to discuss their medical needs.”
Nicholas is quick to emphasize the role that Columbia Care’s entire team plays in its enduring success in the industry, as both ambassadors and experts. “The Columbia Care executive team brings decades of experience in finance, healthcare, research and risk management to the company. We have assembled a group with a diverse set of experiences and each person brings expertise that helps the company maintain its status as a leader in the industry. All of our team members, whether behind the scenes or as dedicated professionals on the front lines, are the reason why Columbia Care is able to deliver consistentlydosed, pharmaceutical-quality cannabinoid-based medicines to patients throughout the country.”
The conversation soon turns to the unique challenges that Columbia Care, and its peers face operating in the cannabis sector. Chief among them is the almost paradoxical status that cannabis has in the United States, illegal at the federal level, yet seen as safe, warranted and of medicinal benefit in 31 states and U.S. territories. “Cooperation between government officials and medical cannabis operators throughout the country is essential to ensuring that we can continue to help improve patient lives with our products.
The classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance at the federal level has limited large, academic institutions from fully studying both the benefits and risks of medical cannabis in treating a range of clinical conditions in controlled research studies. Notwithstanding, we have worked with the best and brightest minds and their institutions to find workarounds to this issue. Problems always have a solution, and we have found the solution by engaging and collaborating with the research and medical communities. Expanding on this type of research, as Columbia Care is already doing, will prove extremely important in tackling unmet needs with medical cannabis. Increasing provider comfort with and knowledge about recommending medical cannabis to patients will also be important, and Columbia Care is committed to this mission. As an industry leader, we are well positioned to work hand-in-hand with researchers, government officials and the public to safely increase access of cannabisbased medicines for patients in need.”
Finally, in his closing comments, Nicholas spends some time defining Columbia Care’s future as it looks to capitalize on its peerless reputation and presence in the sector. “Columbia Care plans to continue to grow from industry leader in the U.S. to global frontrunner. We plan to continue to work diligently to provide education to multiple audiences, including policy makers, consumers, healthcare workers and researchers.”
“Columbia Care is looking forward to continuing to lead the efforts of the medical cannabis industry by consistently innovating, creating intellectual property and commercializing pharmaceutical-quality, cannabinoid-based medicines to address many of the most significant unmet medical needs facing healthcare today.”
Company: Columbia Care LLC
Media Contact: Josephine Belluardo
Ph.D. Company: LifeSci Public Relations