How Healthcare Professionals Are Getting Involved In The Legal Cannabis Industry

health benefits of cannabis

Medical professionals and their approaches to the growing MMJ industry

By Zack M

As the medical marijuana industry continues to grow, so too does the opportunity for innovation. Healthcare professionals in particular are taking part in this boom and have been approaching the legal cannabis industry in a multitude of ways.

Education and Training

Although medical marijuana is legal in certain states, there remains a dearth of licensed healthcare professionals catering to patients wishing to seek treatment via medical cannabis. A study of physicians’ attitudes towards marijuana as conducted by Konrad and Reid concluded that whilst only 19% of respondents believed physicians should recommend medical cannabis to patients, a whopping 92% agreed that education about medical marijuana should be made available to them. As such, several organizations exist that are helping educate medical professionals about how to incorporate MMJ in their practice.

The New York State Medical Marijuana Program for instance offers practitioner education, practitioner registration, patient certification, and the identification of registered practitioners. These facilities allow doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients and understand the laws surrounding it with ease. 602 physicians have registered as of June 21, 2016 and many similar organizations and resources for doctors can be found online and nationwide.

Ivy league doctor, Dr. David Casarett has too recognized the lack of medical cannabis education available to not merely physicians, but patients, dispensary owners, and growers. In his book, Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana, Casarett makes compelling arguments for medical marijuana’s risks and benefits. He hopes that his book will serve as a guide and that it can address the fact that many of his “physician colleagues are realizing that [medical marijuana] is something they should know about,” adding that “they may decide that they won’t recommend [medical marijuana], but they have to know about it.”

Less conventional than that of doctors’ is the introduction of nurses to the field of medical marijuana.Unlike physicians, nurses do not legally require certification to assist patients wishing to obtain prescriptions for medical marijuana.  Just as there is a lack of physicians working with MMJ patients, even more pronounced is the absence of nurses in this respect.

Patients normally receive most of their advice from doctors and dispensary staff regarding the appropriate cannabinoids, dosage, and delivery methods. Organizations like the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) have emerged in order to fill this gap. With a mission to “advance excellence in cannabis nursing practice through advocacy, collaboration, research, education, and policy development,” the ACNA stands as a forum and platform for education. Understanding “how and why patients are choosing this treatment” and “how this use effects other medical treatments” can help nurses better connect with their MMJ patients and ensure patients get proper therapy.

Unconventional Approaches

A new service in California called Meadow—which began as a medical marijuana delivery service—ventures outside the box in the name of convenience. It permits doctors to make house calls for medical cannabis related concerns. Services such as these help bridge the gap between potential patients and doctors and make it easier for people to receive accessible treatment.

Dermatologists too are taking advantage of the legal cannabis industry by creating topical skincare products with marijuana as the active ingredient. Some skincare experts claim that when applied topically, marijuana could make skin look younger as well as treat certain skin conditions such as dry and itchy skin.

With all these new developments in an industry only in its infancy, we can be sure to expect a future of healthcare professionals entering the field in a wider range and larger volume of ways.


  1. says

    RE: Just as there is a lack of physicians working with MMJ patients, even more pronounced is the absence of nurses in this respect.

    I SO enjoyed this article. I’m a writer/editor/activist and have been for some time but before I segued, I was (still am) a psychiatric RN practitioner with a voice that could not stay within the confines of mainstream medicine. I came in when ‘managed care’-euphemism for ‘MDs opting 4 business/$$’ – was steamrolling over our system of care-a community centered system in place during my education (grad & undergrad) @ U of Ill. College of Nursing. Here was our obstacle back when: our silence. Nurses just weren’t vocal; this might offend some but the profession was rooted in patient advocacy but became sublimated to taking MD orders as MDs trumped us in power/prestige/education..
    I see SO many RNs out here now-on #twitter, in groups on #Facebook, advocating for patient care with cannabis the incentive. Why? A few reasons I hope: physicians have been co-conspiring with big PHARMA since back in the day when they began investing… in the 80s when all of sudden, they could & many did. Many of us left nursing then. I was certainly done with mainstream medicine when too many MDs were sporting Mercedes and my salary was going to daycare. RNs also know the best kept dirty little secret only revealed recently: MDs have turned millions into opiate addicts.
    I’m now an entrepreneur hoping that my passion for patient well-being will also help me pay bills doing the work I pledged to do back in the day when I took The Florence Nightingale oath: patient advocacy.
    Now that the health care system. MDS & big PHARMA, has turned millions into opiate addicts, it’s time to turn that around. RN/Entrepreneurs are in a GREAT position to do this.
    Thanks for shining light on patient advocates, RNs. We always have been and based on the number of young RNs I see turning toward medical cannabis advocacy, we still are.
    Marla Miller, RN, MSN
    @writersMAMA @mediMJMama

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