South by Southwest, long a place for film and music, has opened the door for cannabis! Texas is still Texas, it has still not seen the light and legalized medicinal or adult use of cannabis. However, SXSW thought it of interest to include a series of educational and informative sessions on cannabis and included numerous Q & A panels for their attendees.
HelloMD was asked to participate on a panel called ‘Cannabis for Treatment of Injuries and Illness’, a topic which related to the use of cannabis for various medical conditions, as well as pain and opioids. I was honored to be asked to participate and share my viewpoint.
On the panel with me were Seibo Shen the Founder and CEO of VapeXhale, Hugh Hempel the Co-Founder and CEO of Strainz and Debra Miran, a cannabis activist and former member of Maryland Cannabis Commission.
Seibo Shen, a world class martial arts expert, spoke about using cannabis to help his focus, training and get into the flow of the match and how he helps other athletes do the same. He is becoming a well known vocal advocate on reducing the stigma surrounding the use of cannabis for this reason.
Hugh Hempel came to the cannabis industry by necessity. His twin daughters have an extremely rare genetic disorder called Niemann-Pick disease. At the time he and his wife Chris found out, there was no medication available for them to use.
Hugh and Chris, did something no one thought possible and were successful in pushing through approval of an “experimental” drug to help their daughters. However, they still suffered from seizures. Eventually they found cannabis, which helped reduce the seizures. As a result, they began processing their own special formulations of oil which worked better than any pharmaceutical they had tried. They started an extraction company called Strainz, which is now in three states. Hugh is a tremendous cannabis activist who has told his story in an incredibly moving TED talk.
Debra Miren was a member of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from 2013-2016. She speaks all over the country on cannabis regulations to various groups and legislatures to help them craft rational cannabis laws. Her perspective from the legislation side as well as within the endocannabinoid system discussion, was very well received by the audience. What I found interesting was that about half the audience was familiar with endocannabinoids, a far higher percentage than I would have imagined.
On the panel, my comments focused on the genesis of HelloMD, our community of members, our Answers platform and how we use Telehealth to perform remote cannabis evaluations on patients from all over California to increase access to medicinal cannabis.
California is very unique not only by increasing access to cannabis (verses all other states in the country), but by also allowing remote evaluations online. When the audience heard that Telemedicine was used for cannabis consultations in the state of California, the universal reaction seemed to be, “when can we do that in our state?”
For the first time I revealed the general results of our Berkeley-HelloMD pain survey, which is about to be published publicly. The study shows that the overwhelming majority of patients preferred cannabis to opioid and non-opioid pain relievers and had far fewer side effects.
A key finding was the overwhelming number of people who were able to decrease their opioid use by using cannabis! (specific numbers will be within the upcoming published article). Any decrease of the 33,091 deaths reported in 2015 from prescription opioids would be something to embrace, but the numbers that we will show are truly remarkable.
While touring the vast convention floor where VR and tech was king, I was somewhat surprised to see several CBD only booths. These were all hemp extracts by companies such as Charlotte’s Web, among others. All of these booths were packed by people who were curious about CBD and what medicinal benefits it had. There have been rumblings of hemp also being looked at as illegal to ship across state lines, but these companies seem to be thriving.
Since only 29 states and DC have medicinal cannabis legislation in place, these companies are serving the huge market of people who cannot obtain cannabis products with a THC content about 0.3%, but can received hemp CBD in any state. Whether it shows the wave of the future for cannabis I cannot say. Only that there is a thirst for knowledge about all types of cannabis and the effects that it has on your health and wellness.