As discussed in Part 9, the bottom line is that: physicians-in-training are not prepared to prescribe medical marijuana.

  • What about physician educational setbacks concerning medical cannabis?

Highlighting how we can improve physician education is the purpose of the insightful Educating Healthcare Professionals About the Medical Use of Cannabis by the Society of Cannabis Clinicians.

Patients, physicians, and the public all want to learn more about medical marijuana. Knowledge compels most people, organizations, companies and even communities to more actively participate in all levels of the Florida government medical marijuana program at the local, state, and federal levels. This cannabis issue affects all of us in different ways. 

  • What growth and setbacks are happening in our current state program, and ultimately, on the national front?

SOCIAL MEDIA: The measurable growth?

On September 10, 2018, Katerina Eva Matsa and Elisha Shearer published a Pew Research Center viewpoint on use of social media  News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2018.

Whether a cannabis convert or not, in 2019, most Americans continue to get non-stop news on social media, even though many have concerns about its accuracy, credibility, and objectivity.

 SOCIAL MEDIA: The setbacks?

In her July 22, 2019 Get Shut Down On Instagram? Here’s What to Do, Amy Donohue simultaneously discusses both setbacks and growth for interested and affected cannabis content creators, along with a plan of action:

If you are in the cannabis business, be prepared to be frustrated by social media. It’s very possible that something like this is going to happen — so here is how to deal with seeing one of your social media accounts taken down.

The problem is that Facebook and Instagram (owned by Facebook) are reactive. All it takes is a rival dispensary budtender or former employee to go to a profile and report it. Instead of havinga review process (or, hiring enough people to do so which seems like a no-brainer, right?), they react immediately by suspending – or deleting –  the account.”

Additionally, May brought the news that “Facebook will not allow marijuana sales on its platform. Social network’s internal policy team elects to keep global ban on promoting pot sales or selling marijuana outright, after months of debate,” according to Max Cheney at MarketWatch.

BANKING: The growth?

The Republican-controlled US Senate hosted a hearing on cannabis banking on July 23, 2019. In Who’s Now Lobbying on the SAFE Banking Act? Familiar Names and Some New Ones, Nikitha Sattiraju looked at the entities that lobbied on the SAFE Banking Act in the second quarter of 2019:

“The hearing, titled ‘Challenges for Cannabis and Banking: Outside Perspectives,’ is both unexpected and unprecedented. Financial institutions, even in states where cannabis is legal, are usually hesitant to serve cannabis businesses while cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.”

In a letter to Senators Gardner and Merkley in April, the American Bankers Association stated that “Without greater clarity, that entire portion of economic activity in legal cannabis states will continue to be marginalized from the banking system.”

Another win came August 3, 2019 as reported by Marijuana Moment that while the federal banking framework may not be on board yet, Credit Unions Won’t Be Punished For Working With Marijuana Businesses, Federal Regulator Says:

“Regulators won’t punish credit unions simply for working with marijuana businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws, the head of the federal agency that oversees the financial services providers said in a new interview.”

Speaking to Credit Union Times, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Rodney Hood clarified that “It’s a business decision for the credit unions if they want to take the deposits. The financial institutions must follow existing federal guidance and ensure that the businesses they choose to service are not violating anti-money laundering laws or other rules.”

BANKING: The setbacks? 

According  to Alex Trpkovich’s June 18, 2019 report for Greencamp, banking setbacks revolve around the simple fact that the Cannabis industry desperately needs to become credit card-friendly for product purchases: “In some U.S. states, it’s been years since cannabis was legalized for medical or recreational purposes, yet you still can’t buy it with a credit card.”

Returning to the issue of credit unions and cannabis banking. August 9, 2019 brought the bleak news that Alaska credit union to end marijuana business pilot program:

“An Alaska credit union plans to discontinue a pilot program to provide checking and savings accounts to marijuana-related businesses, an official said.

Credit Union 1 will end the program Aug. 30 because critical insurance coverage will no longer be available, The Anchorage Daily News reported Tuesday.

Credit Union 1 announced the program’s launch in November to establish financial services for the primarily cash-operated industry. Marijuana-related businesses cannot continue the program beyond a pilot phase without the liability coverage, said Credit Union 1 CEO James Wileman.

Alaska voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014. The state generated more than $10 million in marijuana tax revenue from July 2017 to June 2018.”

Alaska’s astonishing amount of yearly marijuana revenue should be examined closely when Congress begins debating the SAFE Banking Act (HR 1595) later this year. 

SOCIAL MEDIA + BANKING: The growth meets the setbacks?

In December 2018, Tony Perkins reported on a growing trend in the current cannabis market: “Why the blockchain revolution has no leader—on purpose.”

Most Americans follow the news, even though concerns arise about accuracy, credibility, and objectivity. The cannabis sector is currently suffering from this same mutual nationalBust In Institutional Trust,” as astutely noted by Perkins, who argues that “The biggest consumer trend in the West is a broad-based and precipitous fall in confidence in our oldest and most trust-based institutions — government, media, academia, and finance.

A recent Gallup poll asked Americans about their confidence levels in 15 societal institutions. Only three—the military, small business and police—earned a majority-level of trust. Consumer trust in banks and mass media, in particular, is collapsing. The financial crisis in the late 2000’s certainly took the wind out of much of the trust we had in big banks.” While not specifically naming cannabis, Perkins’ parallels can be applied to the Cannabis industry, in my opinion.

PURCHASING: The growth meets the setbacks again?

In addition to banking obstacles in the cannabis business, there is a long trail ahead before there is unfettered banking access for cannabis patients. However, dispensaries offer various banking apps such as CanPay to allow more payment choice freedom.

This option allows a Florida state patient to link their personal federal checking account to the CanPay app and use their existing available bank funds to cover their cannabis purchases.

This convenient non-cash payment method provides monthly statements, so patients can track their cannabis spending and budget accordingly for the next dispensary trip.

However, all of this national and statewide excitement, confusion, contradiction, and impending legal fallout may have detrimental effects on the ongoing work of the Crusaders. Ultimately, the Front Lines of nearly 300,000 patients like me will experience the worst of it while waiting, somewhat impatiently. 

The traditional press, social media platforms, the financial sector, and the patient sector are all scrambling to figure out the proper “Rules of Engagement” for the cannabis industry.

 

  • Who is directly affected by the fluctuating growth and setbacks in the state’s marijuana sector?

Patients: As of the latest August 9, 2019 OMMU Weekly Update, Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use shows there were 253,652 active registered medical-marijuana Front Line patients. From the passage of Florida’s Amendment 2 in November 2016, the patient consumer base grew from 65,000 patients to 165,000 in 12 months. Leafly partnered with Whitney Economics, an Oregon firm to compile these statistics.

Physicians: Approximately 2,300 Florida Medics who recommend cannabis as treatment for a wide variety of conditions and symptoms. Physicians and health professionals are included in the 9,068 jobs created in the Florida medical cannabis industry.

Employees: On June 19, 2019, the cannabis industry Crusadersincreased jobs by 44% last year,” Leafly announced, with Florida’s rapid market growth creating the most new jobs.” This data gives a glimpse into Florida’s best future:

“The legal cannabis industry employed a total of 1,290 people in Florida at the beginning of 2018, so that was a growth rate of 703%.

That hiring surge was spurred in part by a near-tripling of Florida’s medical marijuana patient population, which grew from roughly 65,000 to 165,000 in 12 months.”

Legislators and Administrators: The Rear Battalion of U.S. and state legislators and policymakers are mobilizing to make a sweeping shift in monetary transactions and our collective cannabis context. Florida is actively trying to channel the discussion into a more productive, mutually beneficial public one.

 

  • How do fluctuating growth and setbacks effect cannabis context and core values?

 

CONTEXT AND CORE VALUES: The growth?

The NACB, or National Association of Cannabis Businesses shares Florida’s core values and mirrors the high standards of the state’s MMTC system — a step in the right direction to shift the context:

“We see the need for a unified, honest, and ethical market. So we have made it our mission to help in the building and shaping of the cannabis sector by creating a compliant and responsible industry. We are the only association in U.S. cannabis that vets our members to be responsible, trustworthy and compliant.”

A monumental shift in context must happen sooner rather than later throughout the cannabis industry in this ongoing contentious battle for sweeping marijuana reform.

In his straightforward Cannabis Discourse, Jacob Levine reminds us that this nation is 100% copacetic with »using, »overusing, and »repeatedly using legal, regulated substances, such as the societally-acceptable coffee, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and sugar. The problem, rather, lies in the context of cannabis use:

“We need to rethink our perception of drugs and substances in general. We humans have always used drugs and will use drugs well into the foreseeable future, whether for medical, recreational, or spiritual purposes. The main issue we have with drugs is not the drugs in and of themselves, but the context of their uses.”

 

CONTEXT AND CORE VALUES: The setbacks?

Human thinking. Our own preconceived thoughts concerning “drugs” and how we view drugs within our culture and in the role of national healthcare is skewed. We must make the individual context shift discussed for ourselves, first and foremost. Only then can we help shift the collective national mindset of “drugs” to a more productive context and beneficial public discussion.

Consider Levine’s stark examples:

“-Having a 10mg edible before going to sleep every night is not the same as smoking weed every day and neglecting one’s children. -Getting drunk at a wedding and having a blast without causing harm to oneself or others is not the same as getting drunk on a Tuesday morning and driving to work drunk. -Getting morphine at a hospital as an analgesic for one’s broken bones is not the same as recreationally shooting up morphine with dirty needles.

If we try to look outside the scope of our preconceived ideas about drugs’ physiological and societal effects, and instead scrutinize the context of where and how drugs can be used, we can begin to have a rational discussion which exists outside of the infamous binary split of whether we should or should not use drugs.”

According to Levine in Cannabis Discourse, this dramatic marijuana contextual shift involves these three goals:

  • “to encourage a rational and logical approach to formulating future drug policies by providing an entire spectrum of today’s views surrounding marijuana.”
  • “to encourage rational thinking in a world where extremely polarized and reactionary views are clouding our judgment.”
  • “to make you think, rather than convince you of personal opinions.”

 

Subsequently, the future political and scientific cannabis discussion, must facilitate an overall mutual shift to a new context that consists of the de-stigmatized acknowledgement of cannabis as medicine, objective analysis of beneficial therapeutic cannabis use, and independent research on and availability of quality cannabis, to name only a few.

Remember the military sticky wicket discussion in The Medics? Marijuana Moment reports that the Navy Bans Sailors From Using CBD Despite Federal Hemp Legalization, New Memo Says, in which “the military branch emphasized that it has a ‘zero tolerance’ drug policy and said that even with the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp, ‘Navy policy has not been affected’ and ‘all products derived from hemp or marijuana are still prohibited.'”

On a lighter note concerning the topic of legal substance use and context, Legalization of Marijuana and Rising Social Acceptance Augments the Market for Cannabis Infused Drinks, with the US sales around $200 million. Meanwhile, Florida and the nation eagerly anticipate the next national cannabis commotion.

 

CONTEXT AND CORE VALUES: Want additional intel?

For my next series, I’ll be discussing “Lighting Up Florida Medical Marijuana PLACES: Troops, Part 1,” detailing the Florida dispensary experience from both the Retail and the statewide Delivery perspectives.