My Story

 Committed to Expanding the Role of a Pharmacist in the Cannabis Community

     One particularly impactful experience I had was a conversation with the mother of a child
with autism. The mother proudly shared, “he has had selective mutism since the age of four, but
when my son is on cannabis, he now speaks to me.” I was elated to hear that her son experienced
such profound benefits from cannabis. However, while talking to her, I grew concerned that she
was not well counseled on how much, how often, and what type of cannabis to give her son. It is,
unfortunately, a common practice for cannabis users to base their own therapy on what has
worked for others. This mother had made troubling and potentially dangerous therapy decisions
based on anecdotal information she gathered from autism Facebook groups and other social media
forums. This story, as well as the stories of others, has inspired me to take action within my own
community and school.

In an effort to rectify the apparent lack of proper patient education, I founded the Student
Society of Cannabis Pharmacists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. This is the
first and only pharmacy school organization in the nation that educates student pharmacists on the
endocannabinoid receptor system. Through starting this group, it is my objective to show UPitt
and other institutions that cannabis can be discussed professionally. The purpose of this
organization is to prepare students to serve as educators in appropriate cannabis use.
To gain firsthand experience with patient counseling, I sought out and secured a position
at a PA cannabis dispensary in April 2019. Since then, I have advised over 2,000 medical marijuana
cardholders, created my own educational podcast and blog, was interviewed by the Pitt News and
local NPR station, and presented a certified CE on cannabis at the 2020 Annual Pennsylvania
Pharmacist Association Conference.

Upon completing pharmacy school, I intend to pursue a career in the cannabis industry
and work to normalize and professionalize cannabis. In addition to precepting the student
organization I founded, my immediate goal is to demonstrate to the cannabis community the
difference a pharmacist can make in the lives of medical marijuana patients. My forward-looking
goal is to be teaching on the proper use of cannabis within an academic institution in less than five
years.

Thank you for reading,

David Katz (Dispenser Dave)