By Dan Berman, CEO and Founder at CannabisBPO

Here is your prescription for Percocet, now fill it as often as you like, but don’t exceed this number of milligrams in a given month.” Can you imagine a pain doctor giving a patient such alarming advice? Of course not, this would never happen in the majority of our healthcare system, but with cannabis, it’s different, the patient must figure it out on their own.

Health care practitioners must contemplate, and practice prescribing cannabis differently. The light switch has already turned on for many patients. It’s time for traditional medicine to catch up.

In this new order, the term “health care vs. self-care” has been coined. We have an opportunity in the cannabis industry to help define what this means. The cornerstone of this strategy is the education of health care providers, patients, and caregivers. There is a lot to know about this plant and a lot to teach.

For the most part, physicians who prescribe medical cannabis are not themselves trained in cannabis medicine and, in many cases, aren’t even aware of the role the endocannabinoid system plays in our overall health.

So, why do we do prescribe this way and what are the dangers of practicing cannabis medicine this way? First and foremost, physicians take a Hippocratic oath to do no harm. That’s the neat thing about cannabis: it doesn’t kill you like many drugs in a physician’s arsenal. It may make you uncomfortable, sleepy, but it won’t kill you like opioids or benzos. This is a pretty important starting point because, without the risk of death, health care practitioners are able to and should practice differently.

The proper cannabis prescription includes a healthy dose of education. When patients understand their disease state, how the endocannabinoid system interacts with all their other systems, comprehends the concept of microdosing, as well as the different components of different strains, and the many different methods of consumption available, we see amazing things.

Patients become invested in their outcomes, and as a result, a reduction in polypharmacy ranging from 40% to 75%. This is a pretty big number to digest. Think about what this number means to our healthcare system as a whole and what it means specifically to the pharmaceutical industry.

The good news is pharma and practitioners have a choice of what kind of medicine they want to practice. Do they want to invest in the old way of doing business as a duopoly between doctors and pharma, or do they want to invest in cannabis education as medicine?

What is driving this recent interest in cannabis in the physician community? It certainly isn’t the cannabis lobby sending out sales reps to doctors. It certainly isn’t government health care agencies. It is 100% patient-driven. Doctors are only being forced to learn about cannabis because their patients are pushing them. If a doctor doesn’t know or doesn’t understand how to guide a patient who is interested in cannabis, that patient will find other resources including non-healthcare practitioners.

81% of patients in today’s healthcare economy turn to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs first before going to a physician. Although cannabis is not dispensed as OTC, with the exception of CBD, most patients turn to illegal sources first, or the legal dispensary down the street in an adult-use state, before a doctor.

Without education, the chances of failure on a cannabis OTC therapy are very high. A patient, who suffers from acute anxiety, and takes Xanax for bad episodes, told me she believed cannabis would alleviate her regular panic attacks. She tried it once, took too much of a dose, and the result was a terrible, paranoid experience. She did not try it on her own again. Much later a friend introduced her to a 2:1 oil (2 parts CBD to 1-part THC) in a microdosing form. It has been transformative for this patient once she understood the concept of microdosing, and the concept of blended medicine. Education is essential to the prescription of cannabis, and the future of our burgeoning industry.

CannabisBPO is a specialty provider of contact center services for the cannabis industry. With locations in Canada and the US, the company offers outbound and inbound contact center services in a 24/7 setting. The company’s core service channels are text, email, mail, phone, chat and social media for customer service, sales, and technical support projects. CannabisBPO helps cannabis companies drive revenue and mitigate risks. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Dan Berman is the founder and CEO of CannabisBPO, has created and managed successful teleservices and customer relationship management programs for Fortune 100 companies for over 25 years. Other companies Dan has started include PharmaCentra and Concentra Solutions, a leader in call center quality assurance monitoring. Dan helped revolutionize the patient compliance industry with the creation of WellTouch™, an innovative contact management program that transformed the way patients communicate with physicians and pharmaceutical manufacturers for better health outcomes. His contributions have earned him a reputation as a recognized leader in the industry. Dan has presented on the topic of opioids and cannabis at conferences around the world.