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Meet Compassionate Certification Centers: The Company Merging Education And Entrepreneurship In Cannabis

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Meet Compassionate Certification Centers: The Company Merging Education And Entrepreneurship In Cannabis
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A few years ago, Dr. Bryan Doner and Melonie Kotchey decided to invest in the cannabis industry and started a process of vetting diverse companies in an effort to understand the space. After roughly 12 months of research, they came up with the idea to start their own business, Compassionate Certification Centers, with the objective of providing resources to providers and patients.

Benzinga recently had the chance to chat with Doner, now CEO and medical director of CCC, and Kotchey, chief operating officer, and ask them a few questions about their company and their recent World Medical Cannabis Conference & Expo, a physician-led medical marijuana conference held in late April that featured former NFL players, U.S. Senators, businesswomen, entrepreneurs and, of course, healthcare professionals.

Q&A With CCC

Benzinga: Can you walk us through what CCC does?

Kotchey: We offer individuals and organizations the ability to license and run their own certification centers for medical cannabis or medical marijuana. Our program offers the features, tools and resources for investors or physicians to use our worldwide branding for full spectrum marketing and networking, in order to open these centers in all-legalized states in the United States of America.

We can be as hands on or as hands off as our clients need; in fact, we can actually meet all three different business models that the states need.

Doner: One of the things that we saw whenever we started exploring the industry was there was a big gap, a large unmet need among providers, who weren’t receiving the necessary education, tools and resources they needed to safely and effectively integrate medical cannabis into a practice.

What we wanted to do was not just limit what we were providing to physicians or providers, but we really wanted to expand that to give other people who are interested in entering the industry from a medical standpoint the tools and resources to be able to do that from the top down.

Kotchey: Our mission is to be the premier cannabis and hemp industry educational innovators. We want people to keep their integrity, but also have an entrepreneurial spirit. So, we’re really striving to create an awareness within the industry where people of all different backgrounds can really get involved in this, whether they’re physicians or investors.

While we started recently, we’ve already had a number of industry investors come to us wanting to open one of our centers. This is a new business model, but the outcome looks positive. Actually, our latest convention counted on the support of the first publicly traded cannabis company in the U.S.: Medical Marijuana Inc (OTC: MJNA). This was a first step to lay a foundation to potentially work with Medical Marjuana Inc in the future.

BZ: We read that you claim to be the first known company in the U.S. that provides medical cannabis certification centers for sale, backed by physicians. Does this mean you’re also betting on a real estate play? Is this another side of your business?

Kotchey: We have three different business models that are designed to meet our clients’ needs.

There is a freestanding center, that could be already in existence, that needs education, help, tools, resources that we could provide. There are also already existing doctor’s offices that may potentially want to integrate cannabis into their practice, which is called a fractional franchise. And then, there are licensees: somebody who wants to brand him/herself as a Compassionate Certification Center and be part of our network. However, we are very hands off with them because we are not considered a franchise. It’s all about meeting the patients’ needs, actually.

Doner: We see a market expansion coming and it seems to be coming at a rapid pace. In this line, I think one of the important things is that, when we developed our business, we did not only think about the scalability but also about the repeatability. We are able to adapt to the different state laws and regulations, even if there are subtle changes.

BZ: How do you ensure that people are getting prescriptions from doctors or Compassionate Certification Centers actually need them? How do you make sure that they are not just doctors giving out prescriptions to anyone who wants to smoke cannabis?

Doner: We start with a vetting process for our clients. In addition, each state has mandated regulations that a physician or provider must go through in order to be eligible to certify a patient.

We also think that, if we can do the process the correct way, and then on top of that give our providers the most up to date, accurate, and technologically advanced resources to use in the field, then that will encourage them to being more appropriate when they do this.

When it comes down to it at sort of a baseline, it’s hard to control each individual provider on a level that we can really enforce. But, by going through the process that we have and repeating that over and over, we feel like that’s going to encourage the type of behavior and provider that we’re looking for.

BZ: Last question: Can you share a conclusion from your conference? A snippet, if you will…

Kotchey: Our convention united, for the first time, patients and providers with industry in such a manner that I’ve never seen happen before.

Doner: The endgame of this, what we’re talking about, is patients: treating patients, helping them, stopping their suffering and improving people’s lives. When you get to see that firsthand, it’s really, really a motivating factor and it gives us faith in what we’re doing.

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