Cannabis Patient Care - December 2021

Cannabis Patient Care December 2021

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25 december 2021 | cannabis patient care advocate focus host 100 female veterans," Jackson said. "When they walked in there were roses everywhere, and they felt like they were spe- cial—like I took the time to pay attention to the details and make it really special." The women were treated to a free dinner with a live band; the tables were decorated with pink and blue roses, gifts from Swarovski and other jewelry makers, and candles; and there was a panel discussion with key female veterans that are advo- cates in the veteran community. The five key panelists talked about how it feels to have PTSD in a room with men, resources available for female veterans, changes they want to see at the VA, and more. At the end of the night, the women veterans said the best part about the night was, "being around other female veterans . . . it wasn't about rank; it was the fact that they were among other women that served, that made them feel really special." The dinner was an overwhelming success and Jackson hopes to continue it in the future. The Veterans Alternative Healthcare Summit To continue the cannabis conversation and bring it to the big stage, in 2021, Jackson proposed the idea of the Veterans Alterna- tive Healthcare Summit. "I hired a well-known cannabis advo- cate and consultant to assist me because he knew the network and could get the speakers I wanted," she explained. "There were 14 panel speakers, and Montel Williams was our keynote speaker—he is a veteran and a big-time cannabis advocate. We had NFL players; researcher Dr. Sue Sisley; Dr. Rachel Knox, an endocannabinologist and cannabinoid medicine specialist; and Wanda James and Etienne Fontan—recipients of the Dennis Peron Award as veteran entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. We also had fireside chats that offered an international perspective with speakers from Israel, Mexico, and Canada. In total we had 22.5K engagements in one day of the summit." After the summit, so many veterans reached out to her say- ing, "Oh my God! Someone is finally bold enough to start talk- ing about this and is not afraid to be the face and voice of it." Veterans told her they came off their opioids because of can- nabis or are no longer addicted to narcotics because of canna- bis. "These comments just gave me fuel to know that I'm in the right space, doing the right thing, knowing that we can impact and change lives by talking about this plant," she said. The plan is to host a live summit in Hawaii in 2022 to contin- ue the conversations that started at the 2021 Veterans Alterna- tive Healthcare Summit . . . and this is why Jackson created Canna Chat: to continue those discussions. Canna Chat is a 30-minute Facebook Live pre-recorded discussion with cannabis experts. "We had our first Canna Chat with Dr. Paloma Lehfeldt from Vireo Dispensary one month after the summit because I didn't want to wait until next year to have this conversation," Jackson said. "We talked about cannabis, how she got into the industry, and the importance of veterans' engagement. "Our goal is to do a Canna Chat once a month. Our next speaker is Dr. Stephen Dahmer, also from Vireo, which we plan to record live from Vireo in Fredrick, Maryland. We want these chats to be informative," Jackson continued. "We're not here to convince anybody that this is the right option for them, but when you're better informed, you can make better decisions for what's best for you and be your own advocate." But there is still a stigma that surrounds cannabis. "It's like the stigma that existed with PTSD when I retired from the mil- itary. People need more information; people can change their perspective by changing how they talk about PTSD," Jack- son said. "PTSD is not a disease of weakness; it's not a disease where folks can't be a Chief Medical Executive. You can still be your best self even with PTSD. So, I am using the same ap- proach with cannabis. When someone hears about cannabis, I present it positively. I don't use words that have a negative stigma such as weed or Mary Jane. We need to call it what it re- ally is: it's a plant, a medicine, it's cannabis. And that changes the perspective that most people have, which is deeply rooted in the war against drugs, the war on drugs, the Hippie move- ment, the Vietnam War era. "This is a new generation, and I and others are talking about it in a positive way that will change that stigma," she said. "I hear folks say people just want to get high, and it's not un- til I really explain to them how it's efficacious, even in the min- imal research we have, anecdotally we know that it is helpful— it saves lives and treats certain disease processes. So, speaking from this perspective and educating people on the science is what's going to change the stigma." Cherissa Jackson CONTINUED ON PAGE 28

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