One particularly impactful experience I had was a conversation with the mother of a child with autism who had selective mutism since the age of four. She proudly shared, “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. 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. It is, unfortunately, a common practice for cannabis users to base their own therapy on what has worked for others. To mitigate the dangers of misinformation, I believe healthcare providers should emphasize thorough patient education on the proper use of cannabis.
This story, as well as those of the many patients I have counseled and spoke with, have 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 organization at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. It is the first and only pharmacy school organization in the nation that educates student pharmacists on the endocannabinoid receptor system. The purpose of this organization is to prepare students to serve as leaders in appropriate cannabis use. Through this student group, it is my hope for students of Pitt Pharmacy to be at the forefront of cannabis education.
Upon completing pharmacy school, I intend to pursue a career in the cannabis industry and work to normalize and professionalize cannabis. I believe creating this website will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal of leading breakthrough science in cannabis safety and proper use.
I educated myself on the therapeutic use of cannabis through reading the literature and conversing with patients whose quality of life was improved through medical marijuana use. By attending local conventions, I learned about the medicinal value of cannabis. Of particular interest to me is refining patient counseling so that patients are best equipped to use cannabis safely. To gain more experience with patient counseling, I sought out and secured a position at a medical cannabis dispensary in April 2019. Since then, I have counseled over 1,500 Pennsylvania medical cannabis cardholders and have maintained a patient return rate of 90%.
In the near future, an increasing amount of cannabis research will be sitting on the desks of our governing officials. I hope to use my FDA 5-week rotation to develop the tools and skills necessary to properly advise officials on implementing public safety protocols and legislation regarding the therapeutics of cannabis. I am committed to being at the forefront of innovation. If you, or someone you know, can help me achieve my goal of leading breakthrough science in cannabis safety and proper use, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Together, we can pioneer a positive change in the cannabis community.
Thank you for reading,
David Katz (Dispenser Dave)