How Green Flower is driving medical cannabis education
In 2020, sweeping changes that revolutionized the cannabis industry over the past few years will continue at an accelerated pace. In Canada, patients and consumers will now have access to edibles and, in the US, several states will begin recreational sales. We will also likely see continued expansion of medical cannabis programs. These ever-evolving policies are a huge win for patients and consumers but add to a growing problem among healthcare professionals–how to meet the demands of an expanding population seeking guidance on how to best incorporate cannabis into their lives.
While there certainly exists a subset of healthcare providers that are either indifferent to cannabis or simply too wary of it, many doctors and nurses are interested in implementing cannabis into their practices but don’t know where to start. And it’s simply because they never received basic training–not in medical school and not in clinical practice.
So where can healthcare providers go in search of a greater understanding of cannabis?
Green Flower recognized this huge unmet need in education and has created online academy courses led by experts in cannabis medicine to provide comprehensive information about cannabis and how to incorporate it into patient care. To deliver the most advanced information on this specialized area of medicine, Green Flower partnered with experts in research and clinical care to create its Medical Applications of Cannabis Certificate Program.
This program, which launched over the summer of 2019, covers essential clinical applications of cannabis medicine, including basics on the endocannabinoid system, cannabis mechanisms of action, and medical cannabis for different diseases and ailments, as well as dosing and evidence-based practice.
We had the opportunity to speak with a few of the experts who lead this course to learn more about their medical cannabis experience and what they anticipate healthcare providers will take away from the program.
Like many others who have joined the industry from other fields, healthcare providers have their own unique “cannabis story.” For Jack McCue, MD, that story began when he answered an ad for a job at a cannabis clinic, suffering from a bad case of retirement boredom. He wanted a part-time job, but he was hesitant at first.
Upon his first visit to the clinic, Dr. McCue noted feeling “just astonished.” He expected to find teenagers looking to “get high” but, rather, found people just like him. This experience, in addition to mentorship from a well-respected physician who had also entered the cannabis space, led Dr. McCue to embark upon six years of self-study where he poured through the literature to learn as much as he could.
He quickly fell in love with cannabis medicine, regarding it as the “most rewarding job” that he ever had, where patients truly appreciate your help and guidance. Yet, he recognizes the dire need for greater cannabis education.
“Patients ask straightforward, relatively simple questions about cannabis and physicians don’t have the background to make them feel comfortable,” he noted. “I knew nothing at all when I started.”
Dr. McCue recognized that Green Flower was serious about their mission and really understood the depth of the science. He also respected the way they were actively integrating experts into course development and agreed to be part of the program they were developing.
Joseph Cohen, DO was brought into medical cannabis by his wife. Dr. Cohen practiced as an OB/GYN for many years with a focus on functional medicine–using lifestyle changes to prevent or eliminate triggers of disease. He first visited a dispensary at his wife’s request, as she wanted to try cannabis for her autoimmune disease.
Soon enough, he began treating patients, later opening both a functional medicine and cannabis practice. And he says the results have been “remarkable.” Dr. Cohen is now committed to training other physicians on how to use cannabis in their practices.
“Cannabis medicine is one area where the clinical experience is ahead of the research,” he noted. “We’re just at the forefront of this…you start to develop a sense of what this medicine can do for a variety of conditions.”
He agrees with Green Flower’s approach toward formal cannabis education for physicians and was happy to contribute to their course work.
“You need to take a course to get the basic information just like you need to take classes in medical school,” said Dr. Cohen.
This education is the first step before engaging in important clinical experience to get comfortable with using cannabis as medicine. And while physicians can provide expertise on the clinical use of cannabis, scientists also possess in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of the plant and its many compounds. And so Michael Tagen, PhD was also recruited to become a part of this leading educational team.
Dr. Tagen has extensive experience in drug development and began working in the industry a few years ago as colleagues started contacting him about applying scientific insights to their product development and clinical trial programs. He is currently working on nanoemulsions that enhance cannabis absorption, leading to faster and more reliable dosing.
“One issue we are facing now is that, although many people are taking CBD [cannabidiol], the typical doses they take are probably way below what is optimal,” he said. “Even an effective drug will not work if it is under-dosed; but there is little guidance with cannabinoids.”
Green Flower incorporated Dr. Tagen’s pharmacological perspectives in their course to provide healthcare professionals with a greater understanding of the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids–or, how these chemicals move throughout the body and how they affect physiological mechanisms in the body.
With the lack of comprehensive knowledge available to healthcare providers, Green Flower’s offerings will surely help bring people up to speed on how to help their patients and perhaps even encourage others to get involved in the industry.