Cannabis Patient Care - March/April 2022

Cannabis Patient Care March/April 2022

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advocate focus 33 march/april 2022 | cannabis patient care Chronic Pain Advocacy: It's Time to Testify! B Y M A D E L I N E C O L L I W HEN YOU THINK of pain, you think of it as some- thing that is temporary and a fleeting emotion. Pain can be acute and eventually go away or it can be chronic where the patient suffers with it in- definitely. Chronic pain is one of the costliest health ailments in the US (1). Aside from its wear and tear on the body, chronic pain comes with increased medical payments, lost income, lost productivity, and worse. One of the most common treatment plans for this illness is prescription medications, such as opi- ates and opioids. Often, these drugs can lead to abuse because of their addictive qualities and can cause negative outcomes. Opioid users are now exploring more natural alternatives to treat their chronic pain. One holistic option chronic pain pa- tients have been turning to is medical cannabis, which has helped treat their chronic conditions without the addictive properties and undesirable side effects. Cannabis has been shrouded and stigmatized by the "stoner's high" image. Al- though the industry is evolving, not all medical health practi- tioners and state legislations allow for medical cannabis to be used as health treatment options. Me Fuimaono-Poe, is a nurse practitioner (NP) who has spent her adult life aggressively fighting for cannabis's chance to be seen as a medical tool. Early Career Fuimaono-Poe began her career in healthcare as a bedside nurse in an oncology department in California. She explained that it was soul-crushing to witness cancer patients suffer from the strong side effects of chemotherapy day after day. In the hospital, patients weren't allowed to be prescribed medical cannabis. Although it was not medically recommended, patients were able to have time outside where they could con- sume their cannabis of choice. Whatever product they chose to consume, had to be supplied by them or a family member or friend, but it could never be supplied from the healthcare facility. Fuimaono-Poe found it odd that they would support the plant in a small way that often showed phenomenal results in their patients but not advocate for it. Healthcare continued to focus on the negative image rather than the good of the patient. Oncology patients couldn't eat or have energy to be productive from all the nausea and fatigue. When a patient used cannabis, they would have more energy and be interested in eating a little bit of food. A Passion for Advocacy Eventually, Fuimaono-Poe moved from California to Hawaii where she became a nurse practitioner (NP). In 2016, the state of Hawaii passed legislation allowing nurse practitioners to be able to certify patients for cannabis use. With this law, Fuimao- no-Poe opened the first nurse practitioner-lead cannabis clinic in the state of Hawaii (2). Fuimaono-Poe explained that she opened her clinic with one goal in mind and that was to provide access to the plant and to keep people out of jail. "With that in mind, with that being the base of how we opened, we've always had a very strong advocacy presence," she said. "The first year that we opened up, we got the Democratic Party to host a cannabis town hall where we got Tulsi Gabbard to speak. That was when she was just a representative here in Hawaii." Advocacy had always been in her blood from when she was younger, but here she blossomed into a true cannabis advo- cate. In 2018, legislation was written to list opiate use disor- der as an illness to be treated with medical cannabis (3). Un- fortunately, the governor of Hawaii vetoed the bill. One year later, in 2019, Fuimaono-Poe petitioned to the state—the De- partment of Health—to allow it. She put in hours and hours of reading and writing to create the petition and while she was re- searching, Fuimaono-Poe ended up learning more about opiate Chronic pain is a condition that is not easily diagnosed. Cannabis Patient Care's Editorial Advisory Board (EAB) member, Me Fuimaono-Poe, Nurse Practitioner (NP), has spent her adult life aggressively fighting for cannabis's chance to be seen as a medical tool for various health ailments such as chronic pain and many other conditions. In this article, she discusses how becoming an advocate and assisting with legislation are the best tools to help your state, your community, and yourself gain access to cannabis and help others with a better quality of life.

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