October 27, 2020

Growing Forward: Education

In this week’s episode of Growing Forward, the collaborative podcast between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS, we take a look at education. 

Dispensary employees must reach a certain level of required certification, but what kind of knowledge should patients expect from those who are dispensing their medication?

Shanon Jaramillo runs a local cannabis education and staffing agency. She said her goal is to make sure New Mexico implements a new and rigorous education program in order to make sure dispensary employees are giving the best advice to new patients who may have never used cannabis before. Her concern is that the state legalizes recreational-use cannabis without also implementing a rigorous education requirement for medical cannabis dispensary employees.   

“I’m fearful without that educational bridge, I’m fearful that the program will take on the likeness of other medical programs that we’ve seen in other states and that will start to dwindle,” Jaramillo said. 

Part of education for both patients and non-patients  is to make it clear what medical cannabis is designed to do. An often misunderstood issue with medical cannabis is that state law does not recognize it as a substance that can cure diseases or other medical conditions. Instead, the medical cannabis program is designed to provide relief for symptoms. 

In other words, Medical Cannabis Program Director Dominick Zurlo said, it is supposed to be used to make patients more comfortable.   

“At this point, medical cannabis has not been proved to cure any condition so far,” Zurlo said. “It’s really something that helps to help relieve those symptoms.”

The same is true for medical cannabis patients who are using it to combat opioid-use disorder. 

Jeffrey Holland, who runs an abstinence-only substance abuse treatment facility said cannabis is not a cure-all, even for kicking opiates. Instead, he said it’s another tool that may provide relief that doesn’t have the same side effects as opiate based substances like Suboxone or methadone. 

“Let’s start at the beginning and see if we can address it with things that are a lot more kind and compassionate before we just start over here at the other side of the spectrum,” Holland said.

You can listen to our latest episode below or search for Growing Forward wherever you usually find your podcasts. 

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