Budding Interest: Medical Marijuana Market Booms as Patients Tap Alternative Therapies

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For many years, marijuana has been a go-to treatment for a diverse range of ailments, with advocates touting the plant’s unique medicinal properties. In recent times, though, the therapy has gone mainstream, buoyed by a raft of regulatory changes and many promising studies.

Most notable among the former has been the creation of special ID cards enabling patients to use, or even cultivate, cannabis after obtaining a doctor’s recommendation. 

Though marijuana is technically illegal at the federal level, dozens of U.S. states now issue such cards, effectively making medical marijuana (MMJ) accessible for those who wish to harness its healing potential. And that group is growing in number, particularly as awareness spreads about the active compounds responsible for marijuana’s therapeutic benefits: cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Today, the expanding medical cannabis community is a vast network that extends across Facebook groups, web forums, clinics and nonprofit societies, and it has collectively reduced the negative stigma around the plant to an all-time low. Once championed by those on the fringes of society, hundreds of millions of citizens now have first-hand experience self-medicating with marijuana. Little wonder the market is forecasted to be worth $176 billion by 2030.

Complex Rules and Qualifying Conditions

Medical marijuana comes in many different forms, from pills, patches and oils to topical creams, nasal sprays and dried-out buds. Yet despite the preponderance of options lining the shelves of dispensaries, clinics and wellness stores, legally acquiring cannabis isn’t always easy. 

Unless you live in one of the 19 states where recreational use among adults is legal, you must obtain a prescription from a physician who approves of marijuana to treat your ailment (insomnia, chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, etc). That’s assuming you live in one of the 39 states – or the District of Columbia – that actively run medical cannabis programs. States without such programs include Nebraska, Kansas and Indiana.

Aside from the specific rules governing marijuana use in your home state, many considerations must be made before one acquires the drug for medicinal use. One factor is the disposition of your healthcare provider since many doctors do not routinely recommend cannabis for therapeutic use. Another is the delivery method – should you vape, smoke, or take edibles? A thorough consultation with an enlightened doctor is required to resolve these quandaries.

Improving Medical Marijuana Access

In 2017, a healthcare tech startup named Veriheal was founded to simplify the complicated process by which patients locate and acquire their plant medicine. In the five years since, the company has managed to help over a million customers throughout the United States, developing a network that includes thousands of licensed medical marijuana doctors. 

When patients sign up with Veriheal, they are invited to provide their medical history before being connected with physicians for a brief in-person or video consultation. Assuming the doctor believes MMJ will have a beneficial effect, he or she can certify the patient for a medical marijuana card that grants them access to medical-grade products at the local dispensary.

The proprietary platform relies on a cloud computing-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) solution to securely store patient data. This not only ensures full compliance with HIPAA guidelines and legislation governing the use of therapeutic cannabis, but it also allows Veriheal to analyze the ever-changing needs of the medical cannabis community.  

With Veriheal, patients don’t have to worry about broaching the subject of marijuana with their primary healthcare provider. MMJ can be a thorny topic, and after conducting their own research, many people keen to give it a try are hesitant to participate in a debate over its merits. Veriheal puts such patients in touch with state-licensed, cannabis-educated physicians who have in some cases certified thousands of patients, eliminating the potential for judgment or skepticism. It’s a friendly, discreet platform expressly created to remove points of friction from the marijuana-buying process.

Interestingly, Veriheal offers personalized cannabis consultations for those who haven’t yet decided whether medical marijuana is right for them. These informational online consultations are intended to educate patients about cannabis and CBD use rather than automatically lead to a card recommendation.

Veriheal’s Monumental Growth

Veriheal’s growth has mirrored that of the industry at large, with the company now employing over 100 people and planning expansion into Europe. It’s even launched its own scholarship fund to support students with a passion for the cannabis industry. The platform is the brainchild of co-founders Samuel Adetunji and Joshua Green, serial entrepreneurs who have turned their interest in cannabis into a highly profitable enterprise. 

The success of Veriheal, like that of other startups focused on cannabis advocacy, is unsurprising given the wealth of scientific literature now attesting to the plant’s beneficial properties. Stories of patients shrugging off chronic pain or mobility issues have become commonplace, and amplified by social media, they offer hope to those yet to commence their alternative health journey. From the margins to the mainstream, cannabis-based medicine is evidently here to stay.

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