Serving the needs of cannabis patients: George Scorsis on what’s next for Liberty Health Sciences
By Brandon A. Dorfman
Oct 30, 2018
In late October, Liberty Health Sciences Inc. (CSE:LHS) (OTCQX:LHSIF) announced the opening of three new Cannabis Education Center dispensaries in Florida, all of which feature free 24-hour delivery service throughout the state. It’s the latest in a series of innovative moves from a cannabis company that, while it shies away from the spotlight, continues to focus on consumers and patients first.
"With these new locations, we are excited to be able to make our premium cannabis products even more accessible to more customers throughout the state of Florida," said George Scorsis, CEO of Liberty Health Sciences in a statement. "We are laser-focused on creating the best operation for future growth and our strategy of being the best provider in one of the largest states in the U.S.”
With a focus on Florida and bigger aims for the future, Liberty takes a unique approach to the cannabis industry. The company seeks out areas with limited licenses and the most qualifying conditions, positing that’s where they can do the most good. So far, the plan seems to be working. With the opening of their Liberty 360° Innovation Campus, which will be the company’s cultivation hub in Florida, Liberty Health Sciences is charging steadfast into the future, making sure that consumers are their number one priority.
PotNetwork recently spoke with George Scorsis, CEO of Liberty Health Sciences, to learn more about their unique take on the cannabis industry, and to find out what makes the Sunshine State such a hotbed of cannabis innovation.
Let’s start with your background. You spent some time with Red Bull Canada and as the President of Mettrum Health Corp., so how did you come to find yourself in the cannabis industry?
I worked heavily with Health Canada on developing policy that would relate to beverages. What ultimately happened as a result was — this was about four or five years ago — the health department started working on a policy towards cannabis. They asked me what I thought of cannabis, and at that point, I really saw the entire cannabis field as what I would say is adult use and not necessarily what it became which was medical. I saw it in no different way than, Red Bull or any of the other packaged goods that I created that were highly regulated.
Where it brought me at the end was a very different path. As I started running Mettrum Health Corp., the first onslaught of emails and calls I got were from mothers of children who had seizures [and] patients that were elderly. All of that really changed not only my mindset, but it also changed my heart in what we can do.
I quickly shifted from creating the best recreational brands, which was my core skill set, to creating the best portfolio of medical offerings to help patients.
And your company, Liberty Health Sciences — your focus is on the medical cannabis space — looking at areas that have limited licenses with the most qualifying conditions?
We like to look at medical markets that are highly restrictive in how many licenses are issued and also hold us to the highest standards, whether it be through our processes, or our cultivation practices, or even our retail. [The] starting point, for us, is not the competitive landscape or how many licenses; the starting point for us is how do we make the best product for our patients?
For us, those limited marketplaces force us into those areas, but we also believe that we can help the regulators create better standards to, again, not only protect the patient but ensure they’re getting the highest quality product. There are states like Florida that we’re in where there are only 14 licenses.
We really like the northeast. Whether it be New York, whether it be New Jersey, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, all those medical states are the ones that are extremely interesting to us for the exact same reason —limited licenses in those areas; they are medical. Now, many of them may transition to adult use, but that’s fine because, even as they go to adult use, you’re not going to see a more relaxed approach to the actual standards that they hold you to. It’s just going to be that you can now produce adult use products.
Your main focus now is in Florida, where you have your Liberty 360° Innovation Campus, which will be the company’s cultivation hub. What makes Florida so attractive for you as a market?
We’ve doubled down on Florida for specific reasons. One, it’s heavily populated — 20.6 million people. The second piece is that the Department of Health has built a framework that allows medical cannabis to be provided for a very wide array of chronic ailments.
We do what we call a statistical information analysis on whether a market has the feasibility. About 30 percent of the population [in Florida] currently falls within one of those chronic conditions that are permitted. So, you can imagine, up to 30 percent of 20 million is six million potential patients. Now, we’re not suggesting that all six million people are going to convert to cannabis, we know that it’s going to be in several stages. We’re going to need to educate the consumer on why cannabis is either more effective or safer.
The other piece that further supports or validates the analysis that we’ve done is that it is one of the more aged states in the entire U.S. and as a result of that, with age, unfortunately, comes chronic ailments. Whether it be pain, whether it becomes certain localized issues, as you get older, you know — it’s one of the harshest [parts] of life that you and I will face.
The one last interesting piece I wanted to emphasize in Florida that’s very different than any other state is, not only is it a complete vertical where you’re allowed to be the cultivator, the processor, and the point of dispensing, but the point of dispensing within state law allows for up to 30 dispensaries. You’re never going to see a market that allows for that [many] extensive points of access with the consumer. You don’t see that anywhere else except in Florida.
In other news you split with Aphria earlier this year, mostly due to restrictions up North combined with federal prohibitions over cannabis in the U.S. Do you worry that federal prohibition is forcing innovation out of the market and what do you see happening long term in the U.S.?
The statement provided yesterday by the Department of Justice really opens up the pathway to them further supporting not only more research but more products that can demonstrate that they are going to be compliant, like Epidiolex. And I think that you’re going to see more research coming into the space. Research is critical. Research is going to really validate what all of us know; it’s going to validate that cannabis is highly effective in a multiple spread of different ailments.
I also believe that you will see CBD continue to flourish and you’ll see more products enter into the category — I think we all know that. We can’t simply look at the plant in terms of CBD and THC, that would be like playing a baseball game and just sitting on first base. There are another 100-plus cannabinoids that offer extremely powerful medicinal support. And I think that what you’ll see is, CBD will really be the tip of the iceberg, and I think you’ll start seeing more people moving into the world of the CBNs, the CBDs, and the more non-psychoactive uses, even the THCAs.
I think that you’ll see more interest from the mainstream consumer touching on those areas. And I also believe you’re going to see more research within what I call the overall cannabis plant. So I think that’s what you’ll see over the next year.
Finally, what is it about Liberty Health Sciences that you would like readers to know moving forward?
Liberty Health Sciences is probably not the loudest of all companies in the space but, definitely, we are truly the best operator. We focus on operation rather than on marketing the company to create hype. We believe that our quarterly results will demonstrate that we’re doing things right and, for us, that’s all it’s about.
It’s really about, are we operating our business to serve the needs of the patients? And what I mean is, is it the highest quality, is it constantly tested, are we ensuring that our product is safe and easy to use, are we pushing research to look at new delivery methods and easier ways for the patient to use it? All of those things are the most important to us.
What I would say is, watch out for Liberty Health Sciences, we’re on a good path here to be a market leader.
*To read more of PotNetwork’s interview with Liberty Health Sciences' CEO George Scorsis be sure to check out the premiere edition of PotNetwork Magazine, available later this fall.