Last week Vireo Health announced to take on a new name, Goodness Growth Holdings, as it branches out with a biosciences research subsidiary. Founder and chief executive dr. Kyle Kingsley may be Minnesota's most prominent advocate of regulated cannabis for medical and recreational use. Kingsley, 44, a 10-year veteran and combat medic in the Minnesota National Guard, was no teenage pothead.
The one-time Twin Cities emergency room physician eschewed cannabis until he started studying it as a possible alternative to opioids and alcohol that infused the trauma he witnessed in so many of his patients.
"Kyle is just a natural leader," said Matt Brown, owner of Estelle's Eatery in Harmony, Minn., Kingsley's hometown. "He's a friend. And when he talks, people listen. And this [cannabis movement] is bigger than him. And he knows it."
It's personal with Brown. His 2-year-old daughter, Gabby, the youngest of three children, died in 2019 of a rare form of leukemia. Her pain in the last weeks of her life was mitigated significantly by medical cannabis. And Kingsley was there for Gabby and her family.
Kingsley walked away from a $400,000-a-year job in an emergency room in 2014 to research and start, at no pay for two years, what is now one of America's larger cannabis seed-to-retail operations.
Until last week, Goodness Growth was known as Vireo Health. It changed its name and said its biosciences subsidiary would branch out into research of psychedelic medicines. The move signaled that the Minneapolis-based company is moving from investment stage to growth stage.