MedCan positions itself as a leader in Texas medical cannabis training
Medical marijuana, albeit in a limited form, is legal in Texas. It’s more complicated than growing a plant and selling it to patients however.
During the 2015 Texas legislative session, lawmakers passed legislation which directs the Texas Department of Public Safety to set up a medical cannabis CBD oil extract program by September of 2017. This plant extract is meant for children who suffer from severe seizure activity.
There will be a strict process for licensing, growing, extraction, storage, transporting, sales, and employing people in this emerging business. The MedCan Foundation has set out to be the go-to organization in Texas for addressing these business needs through training and education.
MedCan has been holding seminars across the country, with numerous events happening here in Texas. The foundation has a strong presence in Puerto Rico as well where they have trained a number of employees, including doctors, for the flourishing medical cannabis industry. Those trained are provided the necessary certifications to be licensed in their respective occupations.
The seminars tend to touch on topics such as the history of cannabis, its medicinal value, dispensary concepts, legal issues/ethics, growing, producing extracts, security, operations, supply and demand, and how to make the most of profit margins. They also discuss current laws and how they may change in the future. Occasionally they may have special guests who give personal testimonies.
Most recently a seminar was held in Austin, complete with a history lesson from Clif Deuvall, Founder and Executive Director for NORML of Waco, a legislative update from Heather Fazio, the Marijuana Policy Project Texas Director, and testimony from active duty Dallas police officer Nick Novello who spoke about the need to end the harassment of people for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Dr. Kenneth Malamud, who spoke about the effects of cannabis, both good and bad, delivered a presentation on medical cannabis. Also presenting was a speaker with an extensive background in growing cannabis, primarily in Colorado, who touched on an array of issues to consider while growing.
Getting doctors up to speed has been challenging as they essentially fear repercussions for getting involved with medical cannabis.
Dr. Malamud, in response to a question asking why doctors seem to be so behind the times concerning medical cannabis, says that it is mostly due to two things. The first is politics, which has over the years pounded the message into doctors that cannabis is not a safe drug and that it holds no medicinal value. The other reason is simply because doctors are not taught in medical school about the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is a group of cannabinoid receptors placed throughout the body which receive both natural cannabinoids created by the body, and those from the cannabis plant.
As an example of that fear he cited the moment when he decided to pursue retirement and hand over most of his ophthalmology practice to his partner.
“When I talked to him about this, he kinda jumped back in almost horror. He asked, do you realize what could happen to you with the medical board? There was just an immediate negative reaction,” Dr. Malamud recalls. He also cites a time when he approached the Texas Medical Association about holding a course on medical cannabis and that there was “no interest.”
Asked about the dangers of embracing the new line of thinking on medical cannabis, Dr. Malamud says that he never personally incurred any problems, though acknowledged that in his opinion due to the conservative and restrictive nature of the Texas medical board, many doctors shy away from having anything to do with medical cannabis. He also made the point that despite that passage of the medical CBD bill, it is still illegal in Texas for doctors to recommend medical cannabis.
Should other medical professionals be surprised that he hasn’t had any problems during his time talking about the plant’s benefits? Dr. Malamud doesn’t believe so at all. “I haven’t faced any consequences because I haven’t done anything illegal. What I’m doing is lecturing and giving information. I’m not proposing that, or even hinting that people should go out and use cannabis, whether it’s medicinally or recreationally if it’s against the law. If it’s against the law in your state, you need to obey the law in your state or move, which many people have done.”
In getting these medical professionals and people in general up to speed concerning the value of medical cannabis, Dr. Malamud states that it is a matter of hitting critical mass. “More and more people are talking about it. Everybody knows somebody that either has been affected by cancer or many of the other disease processes with which medical cannabis can benefit.” He says that there is definitely an increased awareness, and in his own practice, many patients are discreetly asking about it. Unfortunately state law prevents him from giving any sort of medical advice concerning cannabis to his patients. However he is able to point to other states and say this is what doctors are doing there. He adds, “as a physician, my duty is not just to diagnose and treat, but to educate.”
Touching on the subject of the upcoming medical CBD program in Texas, Dr. Malamud characterized it as “in my opinion, one of the most restrictive laws” due to it being CBD only, which he says is hard to extract, and that it only covers pediatric epilepsy patients who have not had any success with other medications. He also did not like that only pediatric neurologists who have a sub-specialty in epilepsy can prescribe the CBD oil, effectively locking most doctors in Texas out from prescribing this to their patients. “Here we have a potential medical treatment which has lots of potential benefit and we’re being handcuffed and restricted to this one disease process, and it’s not just epilepsy, but a specific type of epilepsy in a specific population, being prescribed by only a specific type of doctor,” he concludes.
He is optimistic however that once the door opens up for pediatric epilepsy, it will open the door for other patients, such as those who are older, or have HIV, cancer, or any number of other conditions. However, he states that research into medical cannabis use is necessary, and if you are experiencing a problem, to sit down and have a conversation with your doctor, and that medical cannabis is not necessarily the only answer in and by itself.
Dr. Malamud presented a wealth of information during the seminar, along with several of the other experts from MedCan who gave a presentation.
There will be many ancillary businesses surrounding the medical cannabis sector, and the MedCan Foundation has focused on a strong position of training and educating those seeking to run a business or be employed in the industry.