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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER: Cannabis Law Report
CANNABIS IS MEDICINE: Spotlight on Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Author
INTRODUCTION TO DR. BONNI GOLDSTEIN
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, author of the new Hatchette title Cannabis Is Medicine, recognized early on the educational gap that exists concerning how to practice with the knowledge that cannabis is medicine.
She has attempted to fill the positions of teacher, doctor, mentor, consultant, and researcher —all in her quest to “First, do no harm,” as she vows in her Author’s Note at the beginning of the book.
Second, she has spent over a decade educating and explaining medical cannabis to patients, politicians, and medical professionals, as she outlines in the first section: How to Use This Book.
In Cannabis is Medicine, Dr. Bonni Goldstein provides an educational, practical, and comprehensive view of the Cannabis plant and medical cannabis,
- from examining the current state of scientific research on more than 28 chronic medical conditions successfully treated with cannabis;
- to offering actionable advice on using various forms of medical cannabis -including CBD- to treat a range of illnesses;
- to providing clear directions for navigating the medical cannabis industry.
And let’s not forget that Dr. Goldstein detailed information on the safety and legality of using cannabis as medicine so that patients can make the most informed decisions about their own health care.
INTRODUCTION TO BOOK: CANNABIS IS MEDICINE
Dr. Bonni Goldstein’s precedent-setting efforts are paving the way for in-depth cannabis education and awareness within the ever-expanding medical cannabis space.
On September 29, 2020, she’ll be officially launching her highly anticipated book, Cannabis is Medicine.
I got an early look at this concrete, clear, and comprehensive tome, and my mind was indeed expanded by this book. Her attention to detail, evidence by experience, and thorough analysis and explanation shine brightly throughout every chapter, up until the very last Appendix: Terpenoids and Their Effects.
Cannabis is Medicine includes an explanatory discussion of the cannabis plant and the endocannabinoid system, as well as specific findings concerning a myriad of diseases and conditions.
Dr. Goldstein delves into cannabis safety measures, and forays even deeper into dosages and the pharmacological aspects of cannabis.
Intermixed with this accessible academic knowledge are the incredible individual stories from her patients –in their own words– who have had success with using cannabis medicine.
These real-life written essays provide a cohesive narrative, blended seamlessly throughout the scientific and medical information.
This knowledgeable, practical approach is echoed on her web page dedicated specifically to the cannabis education of patients –any patients– and to the education of anyone who currently uses cannabis or CBD medicinally.
For that matter, she extends the conversation even further to include educating anyone who is curious about starting to use cannabis as medicine, and, as an easily relatable example, she discusses swapping in your ibuprofen for cannabis.
Just one simple switch flipped, and like that: all the lights in your body’s endocannabinoid system are able to light up and signal that you need more electricity —in the form of cannabis, naturally.
She is a board member of the International Association for Cannabis as Medicine, and she is medical advisor to WeedMaps.
Only a few years ago, Dr. Bonni —a name she is affectionately called by her patients, colleagues, and throughout the medical community— was honored with the 2017 Medical Professional of the Year award by Americans for Safe Access.
On September 9, 2020, I interviewed Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medical Director of Canna-Centers, a Los Angeles-based medical practice that helps patients use cannabis for serious and chronic illnesses, and author of Cannabis Is Medicine, available in print September 29, 2020.
Cannabis Law Report: Why do you love your work?
Bonni Goldstein: “There is no better reward than helping a child to feel better so that they can participate in their life!”
CLR: There are quite a few booming medical markets out there currently, so I have to ask: why cannabis?
BG: “After years of working as a Pediatric Emergency medicine specialist, I was burned out and took time off. During that time, a friend with a serious illness asked me about cannabis.
Embarrassingly, I knew nothing! I did some research for her and could not believe that there was a system called the endocannabinoid system that was a key physiologic regulator in humans where plant cannabinoids interact.
I had heard nothing about this system during my education and training. It intrigued me from the beginning and as a science nerd, I wanted to know everything I could about it and this amazing plant.”
CLR: Literally, you wrote the book on it, but why specifically do you personally think cannabis is medicine?
BG: “I have witnessed this medicine deliver an improvement in the quality of life to so many people who have been suffering with chronic illness for years. Since the endocannabinoid system is the most widespread receptor system in the body, it can literally work within many body systems and help those with chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, epilepsy and a multitude of other conditions with little to no side effects. If that is not medicine, then nothing is.”
CLR: Tell me about your year to date. Please expand on Cannabis is Medicine, 2020, and your new place in the national cannabis landscape.
BG: “It’s been a difficult year as coronavirus redefined how physicians practice medicine. I moved to full-time telemedicine which allows me to continue to help my patients.
I am hoping that the book will help the medical community to accept cannabis as medicine as I find this group continues to be skeptical about the medicinal properties of cannabis. I am excited to announce that some educators in the cannabis space are planning to use the book as a textbook for college level courses, educating the next wave of healthcare providers.”
CLR: What was your personal intention initially jumping into the medical cannabis space, first as a physician; next, as an educational cannabis consultant of sorts; and now, as an author?
BG: “I decided to be a doctor when I was eight years old. The goal is and always has been to help people. As a physician, educator, and author, I can help so many people – patients, healthcare providers, caregivers and others – in multiple ways.”
CLR: How do your past professional experiences and successes help you today in the modern cannabis space as Medical Director?
BG: “My previous experiences, including training to be a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, working in one of the busiest inner city pediatric emergency departments in the country and ultimately changing course to become a leading clinician in the field of medical cannabis, are all crucial components that have led to my ability to treat, educate, speak, advise and ultimately write about cannabis as medicine.
The day to day practice of medicine is not only rewarding, but educational to me as well, as knowledge in this field is changing and expanding as we speak.
Each time a patient shares their experience with cannabis medicine with me, I learn something that can help the next patient.”
CLR: Now that you’re here, how do you plan to fully leverage the connections and relationships that you’ve built –while working and writing ‘Cannabis is Medicine’– to add value to the medical cannabis sphere?
BH: “I wrote this book to educate about cannabis and to share my unique experience and success treating patients, both adults and children.
Hopefully this book will help those already involved in the medical cannabis space to understand the science, to manufacture good quality products that will be useful for patients, and to ultimately improve the industry as a whole.”
CLR: To add value to the larger, current U.S. Cannabis “normalization” space… or tell me about your goals and ultimate end game in the Cannabis industry.
BG: “It’s time for ‘Reefer Madness’ propaganda to end and for science to dominate the conversation.
Meaningful research on the medicinal uses of cannabis is still prohibited and hopefully my book and my patients’ experiences with cannabis medicine will help to change.”
CLR: Which aspect of your daily job holds the most appeal for you, and why, or the favorite aspect you focus on?
BG: “Helping seriously ill children get better is the reason I do what I do. When a parent reaches out to tell me that their child just broke a record for the longest time without a seizure, my day is made.
When a child with cancer is able to play and eat and not suffer the severe side effects of chemo, my day is made. What is better than that?”
CLR: What is your main goal, or main goals, of the book, what would its mission statement be if one existed?
BG: “Educate and be informed. Stop believing misinformation from the last century.”
CLR: How does Cannabis is Medicine align with your own personal values and life mission?
BG: “The beauty of cannabis medicine is that it can be customized to each individual’s needs and preferences. It is not ‘one size fits all.’
This medicine allows for the recognition of interindividual differences as patients respond, metabolize and ultimately benefit in different ways from this plant.
I have always been oriented to natural medicine and to the importance of listening to your body.
Physicians see you in a little window of time and then often prescribe ‘cookie cutter’ medicine which disregards the important variations in our response to treatment.”
CLR: What are the top 3 core values or goals or “boxes checked” when using Cannabis as Medicine?
BG: “The three boxes I check with cannabis medicine are as follows:
1) safe, especially under medical supervision;
2) customizable to a patient’s response and preferences; and
3) effective for numerous and varied conditions.”
CLR: What is your foremost current goal for Cannabis is Medicine and how do you plan to accomplish this goal?
BG: “Years ago, I was in my office with a patient who was suffering with the side effects from dialysis. He was waiting for a kidney and struggled daily to feel well.
He found relief with cannabis, however he wanted to understand why cannabis helped him. I began educating him about the endocannabinoid system and how the many compounds in cannabis interact within this system.
After my long-winded answer, he looked at me and asked where he could continue to learn about cannabis and get the truth without bias. This was the moment I decided to write this book.
People want the truth about the science behind the use of cannabis as medicine without governmental misinformation and the last centuries’ biases and propaganda. The goal, from the beginning, has been to educate and inform.”
CLR: How do authenticity and trust factor into your current course of action?
BG: “As a physician who is not involved in selling products or being a brand, but rather involved in taking care of my patients with compassion and their best interests at the forefront, authenticity and trust are the foundation of my medical practice.”
My patients know I will always consider their needs first and will always tell them the truth.
CLR: Generally speaking, what are the biggest challenges in launching a new Cannabis book?
BG: “Just getting through all of the research published in the scientific journals was the biggest challenge.
An article published in August of 2019 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30300079/) found that the overall number of scientific publications in PubMed increased 2.5-fold from 2000-2017.
In contrast, the number of publications on cannabis increased 4.5-fold and the number of publications on medical cannabis increased almost 9-fold for the same time.”
CLR: What are the biggest challenges currently in Cannabis faces or has faced?
BG: “The largest challenge is the prohibition of research. Our federal government continues to keep cannabis in the most restrictive category of the Controlled Substance Act.
Schedule I substances are considered to have no medicinal value, to be highly addictive and to have a lack of safety. This barrier to research is a huge obstacle to fully understanding the medicinal potential of phytocannabinoids.”
CLR: What steps did you take to achieve the book’s top tier, relatable, verified information for readers of Cannabis is Medicine?
BG: “I reviewed almost every scientific peer-reviewed journal article published about cannabis and cannabinoids from the last two decades to include the most up-to-date information.
I also included testimonials from numerous patients who have had success using cannabis as medicine, including those who were skeptical at the start of their treatment.”
CLR: This is an industry that has grown primarily off demand. What medical Cannabis patient demand do you currently see trending, and what behaviors or shifts?
BG: “Unfortunately I am seeing patients who have been negatively impacted financially by COVID-19 go back to purchasing their cannabis medicine from the underground market, since cannabis through legal dispensaries is highly taxed and no longer affordable.
High cost and high taxes on cannabis medicine, when pharmaceuticals are not taxed and often covered by insurance, is criminal.
Why are patients who have found benefits with cannabis being penalized for using this effective and safe medicine?”
CLR: What future mark do you strive to make in the growing national medical Cannabis space that you feel is the very most important, and why?
BG: “One of my goals is to help educate physicians, medical students and other healthcare professionals in the practice of medical cannabis.
Less than 10% of medical schools include the endocannabinoid system in their curriculum. This means that most physicians do not consider this system when evaluating patients with chronic illness. This is a disservice to our patients, especially for those who have been seeking the solution to their condition for many years.”
CLR: Tell me about your personal vision for the U.S. Cannabis program in the year to come? —in 3 years?
BG: “Cannabis should be descheduled, not rescheduled, out of the federal Controlled Substance Act and meaningful research should be funded so that we have answers to the many questions that still exist, such as can cannabis prevent neurodegenerative disorders, can cannabis help to cure cancer, what dosing is needed for various conditions, and so on.”
CLR: And how do we get from here to there?
BG: “We must educate Americans and our politicians – it is the only way to undo all of the anti-cannabis brainwashing from the last 80 years. Understanding the science behind the medical use of cannabis is crucial to moving forward.
It is also critical that we start educating physicians and medical students, as there are very few physicians who are willing to discuss cannabis medicine with their patients.”
CLR: What advice can you offer to your patients, or other consumers in the Cannabis space?
BG: “Don’t wait for your doctor to talk to you about cannabis. Educate yourself and bring that information to your doctor’s attention so that you can have a meaningful discussion about the use of medicinal cannabis.”