Medical cannabis summit set
Although medical marijuana use is legal in Nevada and has been available at local dispensaries since July 2015, many doctors and patients are not well informed about the potential uses, risks and benefits of this drug. To help connect interested members of the community with information, the Nevada Medical Marijuana Association is planning a series of speakers for a Medical Cannabis Summit at the University of Nevada, Reno on March 29.
“Our biggest obstacle right now is the lack of understanding, the lack of knowledge,” said CeCe Stanton, public relations coordinator for the NVMMA. “With the Medical Cannabis Summit, our goal is to educate doctors in our community, patients and the public about the purpose of medical cannabis. What it’s used for, how it’s used, how it’s different than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago.”
Medical cannabis has great potential for helping patients with chronic pain, says Stanton—providing a safer alternative to prescription opioids, which are highly addictive and have many potential negative side effects, including death. “With cannabis, you can’t overdose on it,” Stanton said. “You can get sick or pass out, but you’re not going to die from it. There’s no mortality rate with cannabis.”
According to new guidelines for prescription painkillers issued by the Center for Disease Control in March, more than 165,000 people in the United States died from opioid pain medication overdoses between 1999 and 2014. The CDC report makes no mention of marijuana as an alternative treatment for chronic pain, but recommends that doctors limit patient access to prescription opioids.
Through this conference, Stanton hopes to educate local doctors as well as patients. One common misconception among doctors is that they can get in trouble for prescribing medical marijuana to patients, says Stanton. Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance at a federal level, leading to potential confusion regarding legality.
“We want doctors to know that they’re not going to lose their license if they give a recommendation to one of their patients to try marijuana,” Stanton said. “Doctors think that if they do that they’ll lose their DEA license because it’s federally illegal. We’re telling them no, you’re not writing them a prescription for a drug. You’re writing a recommendation for your patient telling them you are aware and you recommend that they try medical marijuana.”
At the Medical Cannabis Summit, the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Sean Devlin, will present information on the history of medicinal cannabis use in the United States and around the world, and how it is used in the present day. Dr. Jeff Angermann from UNR will speak about quality assurance and quality control of cannabis, with a focus on contaminants such as metals and pesticide residues that can lead to health problems. The event, sponsored by the NVMMA, Silver State Relief and Sierra Wellness Connections, will be videotaped and live-streamed to a simultaneous event in Las Vegas. A panel of doctors, caregivers and patients will be on hand to answer questions from attendees.