How Healthcare Professionals Are Getting Involved In The Legal Cannabis Industry

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.

Guest Post: Cannabis Working Conditions Vary, Need Better Controls

By Edmonde Franco

Guest Editorial

WASHINGTON: I remember sitting on my living room floor smoking a joint with friends while watching Saturday Night Live. Laraine Newman was doing an ad for the American Dope Growers Union. We laughed so hard tears were running down our cheeks.

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It was April 1977. Looking back on it now maybe it isn’t so funny after all. Maybe it is an idea whose time has come.

One evening I was talking with friends about the possibilities of investing in the new cannabis industry. We wondered if it would be a good bet for the future, since the clone to customer chain seemed to be where the real money was to be made.

So I took a job at a Washington State producer/processor. No better way to see and learn an
industry than from the bottom up.

I lasted less than a month. Not because the job was hard but because I was asked to work in a closed room with an non-ventilated propane heater. Carbon monoxide poisoning is not on my list of ways I want to die.

When my concerns were brushed aside I quit. I wasn’t there because I needed a job. I could easily walk away.

Sadly that is not the case for the many people still out there working in conditions just like that.  “Just go outside if you start to feel dizzy” is not the proper way to handle the situation.

Recent articles on pesticides found on retail samples of cannabis raise a larger question for me.   Do you think the worker who was told to spray that pesticide was wearing anything more than a paper mask? Was he wearing even that?

I began to wonder if what I was seeing was typical of the industry so I talked to other workers from producer/processors around the state. I was not surprised to find conditions ran the full gamut from serious laboratory conditions to down right sweat shops.  Most seem to fall somewhere in between.

I did hear a fair number of people who complained about problems with getting paid. Some had to wait past scheduled paydays for their checks and a number complained of checks bouncing but eventually getting paid.

I did notice a large number of people were hired as contract agricultural workers, not as employees.   This leaves the worker open to paying their own taxes and payments. It also gives them none of the protections given to employees.

420 Careers: Available Marijuana Jobs At All-Time High

420careers.com, the leading marijuana industry job board website, has announced that because the marijuana industry is expanding so rapidly it is creating an unprecedented demand for marijuana-related jobs throughout the country.

“The US marijuana industry is developing quicker than any other industry. The rapid growth is generating hundreds of new jobs,” stated Dan Kingston, President of 420careers.com.

The marijuana industry is predicted to grow by 64 percent, to over $2 billion, in 2014. Reports also predict that 14 more states will likely legalize marijuana for adult recreational use by 2018, potentially creating upwards of a $10 billion marijuana industry in the United States.