Why I Chose Cannabis Medicine
As a practitioner with a focus on medical cannabis, I find quite a mix of reactions and questions from patients and friends. “What led you in this direction?” “Are you concerned about your reputation?” “Is this for real, or just hype?” “Can it help me?”
I am an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, with a master’s degree in nursing. I have advanced specialized training in integrative and holistic approaches to health. I have worked in health care for more than 25 years.
Several years ago I came upon information from the University of Vermont Larner School of Medicine about a new certification program of study focusing on Cannabis Science and Medicine. I was fascinated to see this, such a momentous turn of the tides that now well-respected medical schools were offering programs to train professionals in this specialty. It was clear to me that medical cannabis legalization and availability is a remarkable and rapidly growing new chapter in medicine, and that health care providers need to be knowledgeable to support and guide our patients who are interested in this option.
I was aware of the excellent results cannabis-derived medicine was bringing to children with a very severe form of epilepsy, and of the relief from nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite side effects of chemotherapy cancer treatment. I knew that there were very many veterans of war who found cannabis beneficial beyond any medications they had ever used for alleviating enduring, debilitating physical and psychological pain, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
I listened to and read stories of cannabis medicine users and seekers. I realized the passionate and powerful work of activism and mutual support of strong grassroots networks of people choosing to use cannabis medicinally. Thousands of patients, parents, and caregivers were experiencing first hand the benefits of cannabis for hard to treat symptoms, safely and with fewer adverse effects than many pharmaceuticals. Their experiences along with emerging science was fueling the demands for change in outdated policies that barred them from having access to this important treatment.
I tapped into the abundant scientific research on cannabis. I read books and journal articles by internationally prominent medical doctors, nurses, and researchers working clinically with cannabis. I learned how and why the Cannabis sativa plant has such remarkable medicinal effects, recognized and utilized for thousands of years in many cultures.
Learning the history of cannabis prohibition that unfolded in the 1930’s was a fascinating and unsettling eye-opener. Prior to this time, these medicines had a well-established place in the American pharmacy. Concerns about the social effects of smoked cannabis led to many unsubstantiated claims about its dangers, and through a twisty trail of events, this time-honored medicinal plant became vilified and eventually included in the Schedule 1 category of drugs - those considered to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. Ironically, although the US federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical use, they also hold a patent on certain cannabis plant compounds based on their known therapeutic medical uses! In contrast to the propaganda from our past, I learned about the remarkable safety profile of cannabis medicine, safer by far than the vast majority of pharmaceutical medicines on the market.
I was interested to learn about local interest and use of medical cannabis. I facilitated a free public talk at my office to share information and conversation, and to learn about our community’s interest and experiences with cannabis medicine. I was so touched by meeting the people who came to that talk, and listening to their questions and comments. There were elders and people in their 20’s. There were cancer patients, chronic pain sufferers, someone with Parkinson’s Disease, some family members of people with Alzheimer’s disease, a mental health professional interested to know more about how cannabis can benefit her clients struggling with PTSD.
The more I learned, the more fascinating and compelling this work became. I began professional studies from the best resources, and became a member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. Qualified to assist patients enrolling in the NH Therapeutic Cannabis Program, I began to integrate this option in my practice. Immediately I too experienced first hand how very low doses of liquid tinctures made from cannabis had a very beneficial impact on my patients symptoms.
It is exciting and heartening to have the freedom and mentorship of experts so I can support my patients in their use of a medicine made from one of the most therapeutic plants Mother Nature provides.
Nadine Hottat, APRN, MSN, CNM can be reached at email@example.com.