When did you get introduced to medical cannabis? [6:07]
How do you respond to people who say that this is just a way to make marijuana recreationally legal? [8:09]
What’s the history of medical marijuana? [13:05]
How do you get a medical marijuana prescription or recommendation? [14:08]
How will patients be monitored? [16:37]
What type of treatment do you normally start patients with? [17:55]
What effect does the THC-CBD tincture produce? [19:04]
How will dispensaries be set up? [23:10]
How are providers trained on medical cannabis? [24:10]
Where can I go to find out more information about medical marijuana in Utah? [26:33]
How can medical marijuana be delivered in Utah? [27:23]
Why wasn’t anxiety included as a qualifying condition? [32:22]
What has been the most rewarding part of this work? [39:35]
How can people contact you? [45:46]
I have quite a few people that have had life changing experiences because of cannabis. I have family members with cancer, and cannabis benefited them remarkably.
A good friend of mine, who ended up in the cannabis growing industry in Utah and is one of the growers, said to me “Hey, we're going to get into this medical cannabis. There's nobody doing it. The state is building this multi-million dollar industry from the bottom up, but there's no one helping patients get access.” He drove me crazy all last year about it until I started looking into it. Last summer when I really started diving in.
My response to these naysayers is to please come to my clinic, come talk to the people and listen to the people that I see. Sure, I see people who are using it both recreationally and medically? Yes, but those are not the patients that I see.
The patients that I see come in at 68 years old saying, “I'm addicted to Percocet. I can't get off my five pills a day. I've never smoked weed in my life, but I just want to quit taking these pills.”
That person has a legitimate need for some alternative. Cutting them off from their narcotics is not the right thing to do, but this is what makes sense.
I'm not saying that we need to give them marijuana forever. The goal is not to switch them to medical marijuana for the rest of their life. The goal is to reduce their opioid use now and see where that takes them.
As early as the 1970s medical marijuana was being delivered in California.
In the 1990s, a law was finally passed. However, because of federal laws, physicians were getting indicted by the federal government, and they had to fight for their right to discuss it and recommend it to patients.
There are very few providers in the state of Utah, including myself.
You can ask your regular doctor to write a recommendation for one of the 15 qualifying conditions in Utah, which include pain lasting longer than two weeks.
The majority of people who use medical cannabis are using it for pain. Nausea, chemotherapy induced nausea are also common among people who are prescribed medical marijuana.
If they are willing and knowledgeable about this, then they can say yes. However, the reality is they're not doing it.
A reason for this is the scope of medicine. Once a doctor recommends medical marijuana, are they then going to recommend a delivery method? Are they going to recommend that you take pills or a tincture or you vape it? Do they even know that those options are legal. What is the dosing that they want you to try?
If your doctor has experience with cannabis, they might know already how much they can handle with an edible. If this is somebody with no experience, they need that instruction, or they need at least somewhere to go find the information.
In Utah they've set up a good system for followup. A patient will come in to see me initially, and then they'll need to come see me again in 30 days. Their card, once the Utah Department of Health makes those cards available, will be good for 30 days.
You will then have to go back for a follow up. During that period of 30 days, you're going to try to get your therapeutic dose established and then come back for a checkup.
After 30 days, you're going to see that provider every six months to renew your card and make sure that the therapy is good.
I recommend that those people start with a tincture because they can get the lowest possible dose.
I recommend a THC-CBD ratio of at least one-to-one. The evidence says that we need to be using these things together.
We also use CBD to keep the psychoactivity or the high to a minimum. This is because we can increase the CBD dose in comparison to the THC, and we can keep people from becoming forgetful and dizzy.
It works on the mind to disassociate you from your pain. It's not necessarily making the pain go away. It's letting you be okay with the pain. The CBD has the neuro-protective effect, protecting the brain. It's also protecting the nerves, so they just work together.
The people that I talk to in the growing and the producing industry are putting together a dispensary that looks and feels as professional as possible. All of the dispensaries are going to have pharmacists or medical providers on staff, which is going to increase their cost quite a bit, but they're going to be trained.
If a doctor doesn't recommend a delivery or dosing system, then the patient needs to meet with a pharmacist at the dispensary to get that recommendation because they're only going to be able to buy a 30-day supply.
However, unless you have a Utah medical marijuana card, you won’t be able to get access to the dispensaries.
Currently, there is no formal training. We are all self-taught.
However, I'm going to be teaching cannabis medicine to PA students at the University of Utah and Rocky Mountain University. It will be a few lectures long, discussing Utah law, the endocannabinoid system, where we're at with medical cannabis, the delivery systems and how to keep patients safe. Those lectures will start later this spring, and will part of their regular pharmacology program.
You can go to UtahMarijuana.org. There you’ll get information about all of the qualifying conditions, how to find a medical provider, what to expect at a visit, what the diagnosis of pain might look like, etc.
You can't use a flame, meaning you cannot smoke a joint or use a bong. That may seem ridiculous, but when you talk about cannabis from a medical standpoint and you want to make it look like medicine, there is no medical reason to have a lighter
Marijuana can be electrically heated, which is a safer method of delivery. You're not getting the carcinogens from the flame and the combustion. You're just heating it between 320 and 450 degrees. This activates all of the terpenes and the cannabinoids in the plant and safely delivers it to the respiratory system.
Anxiety was discussed as an option. However, overdosing on THC makes people anxious and paranoid. With cannabis, some people are genuinely more susceptible to becoming paranoid and highly anxious than other people.
Seeing people reduce the amount of prescriptions that they take. It changes their lives, including the way they function and how they take care of their kids.
They are not getting high. They are just becoming more of who they wanted to become.
I have seen people stop stealing drugs out of their families drawers because of cannabis. I have seen patients who are fully functional, high performing people who've gotten off their opioids on their own.
It's important that these people have access to this. You cannot say enough about these people being given more control over their own illness. I do this because I think people have the right to control their illness better, and this gives them more control.
UtahMarijuana.org is a great place to start. That's going to give you a lot of information.
UtahMarijuana.clinic is my clinic website.
You can also call me at 801-851-5444. I answer all the phones right now because I want to talk to every patient myself. I want to be involved in the whole process from the beginning.