Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Weeding Out Under Qualified Medical Cannabis Educational Training

Many medical cannabis patients tend to rely on staff at a dispensary to offer recommendations on the best possible strain or cannabis product to treat their respective health condition. A new report finds that most dispensary employees actually have very little training on what they are talking about when it comes to connecting sick people with the right form of medical cannabis.

Scientists have found that only 55% of dispensary employees, surveyed in the study, had received any formal training for their current positions. The other 45% hadn’t had any formal educational training on cannabis or cannabis products at all.

Canna Law Blog also noted, in the last year, that education scams are among the top six scams occurring in the medical cannabis industry targeting patients and dispensary staff. The cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in America, education and understanding of medical cannabis should be a cornerstone for business owners and their employees alike.

Before you overpay for low-quality educational resources, do a web search to find out who your money is going to and what their qualifications are. If a search engine can’t point you towards anything that lends the company authority and credibility on the subject of medical cannabis, as odds are you’ll see that a business like CannabisNM Staffing, is too focused on the wrong kind of green in the “green rush.”

The report, titled “Training and Practices of Cannabis Dispensary Staff”, released this past December in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, was conducted by California researchers and found that only 20 percent of the employees who received training were taught specialized medical or scientific information. But nearly all (94 percent) of staff still gave dosage recommendations to patients.

Clearly, there is a recognizable economic need for cannabis training seminars and schools as future and existing cannabis businesses become more standardized & regulated; in addition to state-level statutes regarding quality standards, packaging, potency and the like, a number of people within the medical/ recreational cannabis industry have been calling for self-regulation and guidelines for best practices.
For current and potential business owners—as well as anyone else seeking employment in the medical or adult-use cannabis industry—the rapidly-expanding number of training institutions raises serious questions as to which ones actually know/ care about what they’re teaching, and which ones are just trying to capitalize off of what’s being referred to in the media as the “green rush.”
The overwhelming majority of ‘educational cannabis symposiums’ are 1 or 2-day crash courses that cost upward of $300 or more. And many people may view it along the lines of a “hit and run” in which some nameless benefactor grabs your cash and skips town the next day. Many learn better when they are able to take their time studying course materials; instead of spending a day feverishly writing notes in a hotel convention room, these individuals prefer an easily-accessible online option. Clinicians, entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, and real estate agents may be hard-pressed to fit a full-day seminar into their busy schedules. Ideally, these people want educational resources that may be easily accessed online (better still would be classes with no time limit, allowing you to pay once and gain lifetime access to your cannabis-related course materials). 

How many years of cannabis industry and/ or education experience does the staff have?
Who develops the learning content, and what makes them qualified? Are they subject matter experts, professional educators, or both?
Is the learning institution accredited by a reputable cannabis industry organization? Would this training be supported by the state’s medical cannabis advisory board?
Is the learning institution involved in medical cannabis activism?
Are their law classes specific to one state, the whole country, or both?
Do the courses focus on business, medical science, cultivation, law, or all the above? Do they offer the classes that best suit your specific needs?
How accessible are the classes? Where are they located, and how easy is it to get there?
Does the training program offer a certification? If so, which organization(s) is that certification backed by?
Does the institution place heavy emphasis on spreading education, or do they seem more interested in getting your money? 

The ‘Medical Cannabis Symposium’ this weekend in Albuquerque, hosted by CannabisNM Staffing and facilitated by Nicole Morales of New Mexico Empact, is a perfect example of those types of events that is too focused on the wrong kind of green in the “green rush” and worse- patients are doing this to other patients. This two day event that claims to be taught by industry professionals cost just shy of $320 for two day passes and they say “No Refunds”. No refunds in education tells me they are not very confident in their own educational work to be provided. Didn't Trump Univeristy get in trouble for this sort of thing?  So let’s see what this near $320 weekend event provides one compared to what other medical cannabis education options are available.
The agenda for the ‘Medical Cannabis Symposium’ that CannabisNM Staffing is putting on, says it is taught by medical and industry experts. Yet the managing partner for CannabisNM Staffing said herself, they are just a startup business.  The event also says it will provide those in attendance with a certificate of completion but the ‘classes’ being taught have absolutely zero accreditation in the medical cannabis industry. All these ‘classes’ being taught are done so by those who are making money off of the medical cannabis patient community. A honest description of the event would have told the community it is being taught by business owners and employes. And seeing two medical professionals participating in this event, a MD and former medical cannabis advisory board member and a RN who is a member of American Cannabis Nurses Association, teaching two different ‘classes’ when they know as medical professionals, that what is being taught here has no accreditation but yet they still participate. This is also the same MD, Dr. Steven Rosenberg, who spoke out against medical cannabis patients rights; like have cards renewed every 2 or 3 years and the removal of the concentration cap, Dr. Rosenberg even suggested newer patients and some other patients should have to been seen every 3 months for recertification... $320 for a certificate of completion? Where is that fine line for a medical professional, like a MD or RN, who also has a business in the medical cannabis industry? Too many are making that a grey line- mixing the two...
The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), has online core curriculum that is available. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with The Medical Cannabis Institute (TMCI) and includes the latest medical cannabis research, usage and clinical applications delivered by subject matter experts.

Topics include the Endocannabinoid System, Dosing, Psychiatry, Medical Risks and Legal Implications. The course features 12 lessons from 11 different authors and is certified for eight (8) Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) contact hours. The CNE activity was approved by the Virginia Nurses Association, an accredited approver by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.  The course retails for $369 but is available to ACNA members for $299, ACNA student membership is $25.  For $325, one gets all of those accredited educational courses, unlimited access to the course materials, and the membership supports one of the best organizations in the cannabis industry - the American Cannabis Nurses Association.

The Medical Cannabis Institute (TMCI), provides online medical education for healthcare professionals who want to learn about medical cannabis and its potential clinical application. Our science-based, accredited courses help professionals deliver quality care and address patient questions. TMCI works with organizations that are recognized as pillars of medical cannabis learning and brings their valuable medical expertise to the healthcare community via an ever-growing online course catalog.

Through TMCI’s online course offerings, healthcare professionals, dispensary staff, and medical cannabis patients will learn about everything from the basics of the endocannabinoid system and the importance of patient education to specific medical cannabis treatments for pain, cancer and other diseases.

TMCI’s charter group of content providers –the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the American Cannabis Nurses Association and Patients Out of Time – is providing courses from distinguished faculty and healthcare professionals. Medical courses and the nursing curriculum are certified for continuing medical education (CME) credits and continuing nursing education (CNE) contact hours, respectively. TMCI has individual course offerings at just $29.99 each. Those 10 classes are a much better deal than the near $320 two day ‘Medical Cannabis Symposium’, that does not provide unlimited online access to educational materials.  

The Answer Page and Americans For Safe Access also have a one stop shopping for quality CME credits on medical cannabis. This content is jointly sponsored by the Massachusetts Medical Society and The Answer Page and approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. The Answer Page offers 21 different accredited course for the medical cannabis industry members.

Americans for Safe Access has also devised seed to consumption national quality standards, that now exist for the medical cannabis industry thanks to the 2011 collaboration of Americans for Safe Access, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), and the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP). This unique collaboration combines the expertise of ASA, the nation’s largest medical cannabis patient advocacy organization; AHPA, the principal U.S. trade association and voice of the herbal products industry since 1982; and the AHP, an organization that has developed qualitative and therapeutic monographs on Western herbs since 1994. The result is that patients, healthcare providers, lawmakers, regulators, and medical cannabis businesses now have the tools they need to ensure reliable, high-quality hemp, medical cannabis, and medical cannabis products.

In Washington, the state requires all licensed and medically endorsed cannabis retail stores to have a certified medical cannabis consultant on staff to work with patients. Many fully-accredited universities are now offering cannabis training courses. Schools like the University of Colorado, Oregon State University, Santa Clara University and The Ohio State University offers some cannabis courses that cover issues like cannabis business financing, cannabis economics, consumer demographics and job creation.

The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program and industry needs cannabis training that are affordable, accessible, reputable, experienced, and dedicated to the cause. Given the option to learn from a ‘green rusher’ who started their business a couple of months ago or being educated by seasoned industry professionals who want to see the medical cannabis industry thrive in helping the patient community it serves, the latter option sounds like the more appealing choice.
Appendix A:
Petition Provided to the NM DoH MCAB requesting the establishment of MCP Education Standards:

"This petition for the Medical Treatment that pertains to Requesting the Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis Program Research & Education Established, is being provided to the state Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program to strengthen the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act"
read full Petition here: