Connecting the Dots with Nikki Lawley: the importance of medical cannabis programs

nikki lawley medical cannabis programs

As a medical cannabis consumer who has worked in the industry for a while, I’ve seen many states shift their markets from medical to adult use. This often leads to big changes for the patients who rely on the plant—sometimes, these vulnerable consumers get lost in the shuffle.

I realize the industry focus is adult use because of the larger number of potential consumers. However, many recreational users could be looking for wellness. After all, many people consume cannabis to improve sleep—couldn’t this be perceived as medical use?

There’s also the fact that the cannabis industry started on the medical side. We would not have adult-use programs if it weren’t for the legacy growers and the patients. We must continue educating, removing the stigma, and helping people access quality cannabis—regardless if it’s deemed medical or recreational. 

RELATED: Connecting the Dots with Nikki Lawley: discussing medical cannabis with your doctor

The benefits of medical cannabis

Medical programs vary per state. Medical programs have several benefits; the first is getting guidance on what products might work best for your condition or symptom management. Medical programs often have someone on site to help navigate the different products; they ask questions about what the patient is looking for and if there are any contraindications based on the medications one takes. Medical programs offer guidance and feedback that adult-use programs simply can’t. 

Another benefit is usually price. Medical cannabis is usually less expensive than adult use because of the taxes. There may also be different purchase limits.

It’s important to note that medical programs vary from state to state; regardless of where you live, if medical is an option, it’s worth looking into. Many people may qualify and not even know it. Plus, several states have reciprocity. This means if you have a medical marijuana card in your home state, you may be able to use it in another.

Leave no patient behind

When markets go recreational, patients are often forgotten. They may lose access to the medicine they have come to count on. Shelf space gets devoted to adult use brands with higher margins. The patient coordinators that help guide patients may disappear, which is a major consequence when states go to adult use.

I highly recommend people get a card if there’s a chance they qualify. Get a recommendation from a provider, ask others what they are using cannabis for, and look for support groups online with information on how to find the right products for your condition. Adult use and medical use can coexist, but this is not a time to forget or leave medical patients behind.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The statements within do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GreenState, Hearst, or its subsidiaries. The author is solely responsible for the content.

nikki lawley

Nikki Lawley is a patient advocate, speaker, and founder of Nikki and the Plant. She personally discovered cannabis as medicine after suffering a life-changing injury while working as a pediatric nurse. Nikki resides in Buffalo, NY.