Have you recently been prescribed medical cannabis and now feel completely lost?
You are not alone. All people new to cannabis require guidance in order to achieve success with symptom reduction.
Colleen works one-on-one with medical cannabis patients that require extra time and care. She helps navigate the complex world of cannabinoid medicine including:
1. Understanding the differences between THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and d8THC
2. Selection and ordering of products at the dispensary
3. Comfortable and effective dosing of all delivery methods: inhalation, sublingual delivery, and edibles
Building Bridges in the Medical Cannabis Industry
The Cannabis Market - though lucrative and growing in popularity - still remains an enigma in the medical community. Doctors are struggling to openly endorse the product until they are further educated on the clinical science of cannabis, even though they are becoming aware of the benefits over traditional medication for several conditions.
Pioneering these emerging markets are dispensaries and cannabis producers that offer product lines for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In addition to many users learning how to self-medicate, trained medical professionals are able to introduce producers and dispensaries to the concept of pharmaceutical elegance.
Despite the success of medical cannabis, players in the cannabis market are struggling to meet the needs of their customers. In this report, we will discuss how cannabis providers and dispensaries can effectively close the gap between themselves and the medical cannabis patient.
The State of the Medical Cannabis Industry
North American residents are currently the most significant cannabis customer base on the planet. Experts predict that the market will increase from $10 billion to almost $50 billion by 2027.
Not only is cannabis industry growth significant for people in Canada and the U.S., but the entire world watches in anticipation. While global cannabis sales are healthy, international governing bodies (specifically the United Nations) take their lead from Washington, D.C.
Commenting on data from Arcview's "Road Map to a $57 Billion Worldwide Market," Forbes writer Thomas Pellechia noted:
The worldwide adult recreational cannabis market remains hampered by the United Nations and its 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The Arcview and BDS report believes nothing will be done to change the U.N. attitude until U.S. federal laws legalize marijuana.
Despite the legislative gridlock, medical cannabis has broken through at a fast pace. This breakthrough is thanks to the initiative of the U.S. legalizing states and Canada. Forbes continues:
The initial decision by many U.S. states and Canada to create medical-only cannabis regulations prompted many other countries to act similarly. But California's and Canada's willingness to legalize adult recreational use triggered a second wave of laws internationally to increase access to medical cannabis.
Against the backdrop of international and North American initiatives to legally supply cannabis to the masses, state-legalized dispensaries are finding a deeper calling beyond sales from recreational use.
According to the US census bureau, by 2030 all baby boomers will be older than age 65. This will expand the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be retirement age. Seniors are more likely to have advanced disease and are the fastest-growing group of marijuana users.
With pharmaceutical guidance, dispensaries and cannabis producers are learning how to address the disconnect between themselves and the medical cannabis patients.
Whether experienced or a novice, cannabis users need help when translating dispensary cannabis products. They seek answers to their questions, an effective treatment plan that they can afford, and recommendations for safe, medical-grade products.
Dispensaries that put themselves in the shoes of these patients will quickly find that they need guidance from pharmaceutical experts. In fact, in many states, it is illegal for dispensaries to offer medical guidance unless given by a trained medical professional, even if a customer asks for it.
Medical versus Recreational
For purely recreational use in states where it is legal, dispensaries may use the retail customer service model. That is, moderately-knowledgeable staff can assist customers in much the same way that a Dillard's employee helps a customer pick out the right tie.
And while some states have legalized recreational use with great success, economists point to cannabis' medical use as the reason why recreational legalization makes sense.
When a cannabis customer decides that he/she needs help with Parkinson’s symptoms, suffers from migraines, or has side effects from chemotherapy, they require a different kind of assistance.
Today's chronic pain management solutions are fraught with unsustainable solutions. Big Pharma organizations make money on those in pain. However, Big Pharma scientists work round the clock to find better, more effective treatments. According to Harvard Health Publishing:
Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve if people can't take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.
As new FDA-approved drugs flood the market, major patient concern is drug interactions. Medical patients with chronic diseases are typically prescribed 5-8+ drugs at a time. Cannabis can treat multiple symptoms simultaneously thus reducing the overall patient drug load.
Cannabis has been most effective for chronic pain, chemo side effects, nerve pain, muscle spasms, Parkinson's disease symptoms, G.I. disease, anxiety, sleep disorders, and more.
When patients visit a dispensary looking for sustainable treatment, vendors with pharmaceutical guidance build better customer loyalty and faster word-of-mouth. The alternative is forcing timid customers to be the experts in their self-medication journey.
For this reason, pharmaceutically-guided establishments enjoy a unique advantage over their industry peers.
Application and Ingestion Patients frequently don't know all the ways to apply or ingest medical cannabis. In some cases, patients that would benefit greatly from medical marijuana (or its isolated ingredients) turn away because they don't want to "smoke it."
The most common cannabis use includes topical applications, inhaling, sublingual, and edibles. Expert support can raise customer awareness of how some methods are safer and more pleasant than others.
Additionally, pharmaceutical support can recommend the best application based on the patient's needs. For example, those that need fast relief will better benefit from inhalation or sublingual dosing while edibles are ideal for those that need a longer duration of action.
The Bottom Line
As patients visit a dispensary looking to treat their symptoms, they are likely to overuse (or underuse), risking a negative experience. After a negative experience, your customers will return to the arms of pharma drugs. From the producer's point of view, they need to stand out in the cannabis market. When seeking to build a cannabis business, they must also consider the ability of products to meet patient needs, variety within the product line, and ease of use of their products. One’s product line design needs to have a medical patient in mind.
Time and again, pharmaceutical experts have helped both medical and recreational producers create patient-oriented products to create a successful, easy, and effective customer experience. Medical grade products introduced to healthcare professionals by a pharmacist will be first in a practitioner's mind when recommending cannabis for their patients.
That said, patients don’t buy products directly from producers. Instead, they visit a dispensary looking for relief, often without inebriation.
Establishment owners aware of patients that require hand-holding will want to provide that extra level of care through the help of pharmaceutical guidance. This guidance is the critical conduit between the producer and the doctor.
Because some products are clearly recreational, while others are more medicinal, cannabis dispensaries are learning how to develop standard operating procedures for various product lines while cannabis producers are developing products specifically designed for the medical cannabis patient.
As customers express a desire to treat specific symptoms, staff members should be able to select the appropriate product line (often organized in tiers, with the highest-level product line passed off to the pharmacist). Patients will be able to scale up their dosage to a comfortable, yet effective experience every time.
This pharmaceutical presence adds significant value to the provider and dispensary's service. Not only does pharmaceutical guidance increase treatment success, but it also adds a new level of customer care, "We take your symptoms very seriously."
As the patient finalizes his/her purchase, the dispensary attendant can give the customer a card with contact information for the pharmacist on-call should they have any further questions or concerns.
Cannabis establishments that take patient care seriously invest time and resources into consulting the proper experts. This includes working with attorneys, accountants, and pharmaceutical consultants.
A frustrating setback for most cannabis providers - medicinal or recreational - are the restrictions under IRS Section 280E that prevent providers from being able to write off many of these expenditures come tax season.
Currently, 280E forbids cannabis businesses from claiming expenses tied directly to profits from the sale of a federally-illegal product - in this case, cannabis. This seriously limits producers and dispensaries from being able to write off most of their expenses. To claim all business expenses on their taxes, cannabis providers work with their accountant to set up two entities.
One entity supports the sale of cannabis products while the other supports auxiliary products like branded memorabilia, apparel, and care services. The second entity can, therefore, write off these service upgrade expenses legally and save the provider some money when taxes are due.
Utilize an Expert
As the industry continues to grow within North America and around the world, more data supports medical cannabis as a reliable treatment for patients with a wide variety of diseases and symptoms.
Getting ahead in the medical cannabis industry today means employing pharmaceutical expertise. Pharmacists are uniquely qualified to provide patients a comfortable and successful experience from the day they choose to start using cannabis to help relieve their symptoms. As more pharmaceutical experts assist the spread of medical cannabis use, both recreational and medical cannabis providers can grow their customer base while simultaneously increasing customer loyalty.