The Patient Care (Budtender) Perspective
"I was lucky enough to become a part of the cannabis industry over three years ago. I became a patient in Illinois before the program rolled out, and was very excited when the first dispensary opened. The team at the dispensary was amazing, they opened my eyes to a whole new world of cannabis that I never had access to on the black market. I developed a really good relationship with the staff at my dispensary, but I was still shocked when the manager asked me to join the team. Two and a half years later, I am proud to say that I have worked with hundreds (likely thousands) of patients, many of them totally new to cannabis.
Working at a dispensary is very rewarding, however it is also incredibly challenging. We don’t have the advantage of years of scientific research, and except for progressive physicians, most members of the established medical community choose to focus on the misconceptions of cannabis rather than the benefits. Regardless, we have learned to come together as a community, to learn and share together, to set the standard ourselves.
The internet is chock full of heartwarming stories of the efficacy and benefits of medical cannabis. I have seen this with my own eyes. One such patient, a woman in her mid-fifties (we’ll call her Jane), had debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. Though she lived with her family on a large plot of land, for years she hadn’t been able to enjoy her favorite activity…gardening. Jane came in for her first visit in visible pain, and we helped her select medicine to deal with the pain and inflammation. Jane’s second visit was more spirited, each time she visited we could all see the improvement and joy in her eyes. That summer, maybe 5 or 6 months after becoming a patient, Jane walked into the dispensary with the largest zucchini I have ever seen. With tears of joy, Jane gifted us that zucchini, which she grew in her garden.
To be able to connect people with healthy, natural remedies is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. Being a patient, I feel a connection to everyone I have ever worked with. And though we’re still figuring things out, we are doing so as a community.
I’d like to offer three pieces of advice for new patients. One, not all dispensaries are the same! The single most important decision a medical cannabis patient can make is the dispensary they visit. It may take a few tries before finding the right place to call home, but it is well worth it. The staff are your greatest ally in learning and growing as a patient. Two, every patient is unique. In essence, what works for some doesn’t work for all, so while advice on strains and dosing from a reputable source may be a good place to start, ultimately each patient is responsible for their own progress. Three, do your homework! There is plenty of information available online, some good and some bad. I strongly advise all of my patients to keep notes and track their progress, it is the best way to guarantee long-term success.
I also encourage each and every patient I work with to go out and be a good representative of the program. So many more people could benefit from cannabis, but are afraid of the stigma and taboo surrounding this plant. The more support cannabis has, the more accessible it will be. The more accessible cannabis is, the more people can benefit."
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