Educating On Medical Marijuana
Spotlight on CannX
by Sam HudginsLegal obstacles to accessing marijuana have been falling recently, but information surrounding the drug remains murky as its unsavory stigma lingers. Changing the bias against marijuana lies in education; this is where Shawnta Hopkins steps up to the plate. In 2014, Hopkins began an advocacy group that not only disseminates information on the benefits of medical marijuana, it connects patients with doctors able to prescribe it, as well.
Initially Hopkins ran two simultaneous companies: her advocacy group, Medical Marijuana Advocacy Group (MMJ) and DC Cannabis Cards, which helped patients living in Washington, D.C. legally obtain marijuana. In May, these two companies will combine and expand their reach from under the new name CannX “like cannabis exchange,” Hopkins states. Hopkins points out that the terms cannabis and marijuana are interchangeable terms but “marijuana seems to be a more popular term with millennials.”
The primary goal of CannX will remain education, which, in turn, drives demand for medical marijuana, and, as Hopkins puts it, “[changes] the conversation. We need to change the image from that of a stoner to that of a patient.”
However, changing that image is not always an easy one. Hopkins has had more than one social media page taken down because their subject matter. In addition to using social media, CannX will engage and educate the community through grass-roots marketing with events such as the DC Green Festival, where the group will have a booth for the May 6 weekend-long event.
The CannX team currently consists of five people including a nurse practitioner, an MBA to manage business operations, two patient advocates and perhaps most importantly, a legal councilor so they are always up-to-date and in line with the area’s constantly shifting laws.
CannX will not only provide information on marijuana as an alternative treatment to potential patients, they will continue to work with medical professionals as well. Hopkins’s group organizes seminars to both educate those in the medical field as well as to make connections. One of the largest barriers to obtaining medical marijuana comes from an inability to find a doctor willing to write a prescription for it. Hopkins has cultivated an extensive network of doctors who are able to both prescribe marijuana and address the specific issues that patients wish to alleviate by using the drug. Her network includes general practitioners, a cardiologist, a psychologist, a gastroenterologist and even a pediatrician. Access to CannX’s network of doctors can be found on their website MyCannX.com.
The next largest obstacle to accessing medical marijuana is cost. Insurance will not cover any costs in relation to marijuana, including doctor visits for a prescription. Hopkins and her team work closely with doctors to best negotiate and lower the price. With the launch of CannX, Hopkins will also be able to unveil her nonprofit branch of the company: Compassionate Alternatives. The purpose of the nonprofit will be to partner with other nonprofit health care organizations to bring awareness to marijuana as an alternative medical treatment as well as to raise money to assist with costs associated with medical marijuana.
Other goals Hopkins has for CannX includes taking the group and its message beyond D.C. and Maryland, as well as possibly entering the political arena to lobby for medical marijuana use to be legal in every state.
Overall the biggest take away Hopkins hopes to give people through CannX is that marijuana “is legal, its available and how to access it.”
To learn more about medical marijuana and get connected with a prescribing physician visit MyCannX.com