2/20/20 By DAN ULLOA
Canna Care Docs, a chain of doctor’s offices specializing in prescribing medical marijuana to patients, opened their fifth New Jersey location in Woodbury last night.
They decided to open it near the Curaleaf ATC in Bellmawr so it’s convenient for patients after an appointment. The city of Woodbury was quite welcoming to them. The Mayor and members of the City Council participated in the ribbon-cutting because they see it as helpful to the area’s redevelopment.
“Those are the best places for us to be. We’re bringing a brand new industry to an area that needs that economic stimulus. Patients are going next store to get coffee or Charlie Brown’s while they wait,” said Erica Pukatsch Canna Care Docs’ Regional Manager for New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. “Being friends with our neighbors is going to allow our patients to live stigma-free as well.”
Since the list of qualifying conditions was expanded, it has become easier for patients seeking relief at the same time the stigma around medical marijuana is disappearing.
When Pukatsch started working in medical cannabis six years ago, very few doctors participated in medical marijuana programs due to the stigma. To spread awareness, the company has programs working with nonprofits programs to give them discount certifications, referral programs, and veteran-centered events.
Canna Care Docs took over operations of New Jersey Alternative Medicine on July 1st of last year. Their other New Jersey offices are in Princeton, Morristown, Nutley, and Linwood. Right now, Canna Care Docs only has three doctors for their offices across the state. They are Dr. Compagnone, Dr. Gaffney, and Dr. Koff who rotate around the state spending a couple of days in the different offices at a time. The Woodbury Office Manager Portia Lowther will always be there during their office hours Monday to Friday.
Since the company is short-staffed, they are looking to bring on more medical professionals. With the Jake Honig Act’s implementation, Nurse Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners will be able to prescribe medical cannabis to patients.
The company was started by Kevin Kafka in Massachusetts in 2012. He later sold it to the company that became CB 2 Insights. Canna Care Docs operates 34 clinics in 17 states across the country. Thus, they are one of the largest chains of prescribing doctor’s offices in the country. The company also operates in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Colombia.
Canna Care Docs Educating Patients
“I’ve just had the passion for the community, for the people, for helping people, for progressing it forward, making people understand it’s not what they think it is,” Lowther said, adding she spends a good amount of time dispelling myths about the nature of cannabis.
In contrast to the stereotype of lazy stoners, Lowther said many patients are professionals, doctors, and leaders in their community. Those who are older are more likely to have the strongest prohibitionist attitudes. However, due to pain and conditions from age, they often benefit the most.
“Educating patients about cannabis is life-changing. It’s the opportunity between getting so-so relief out of the medicine or having maybe having a bad experience with it and not getting relief versus completely 180 changing their life,” said Ellys Thynne, Cannabis Educator at Canna Care Docs. “I’ve seen patients go from not walking to they’re able to walk. Patients who weren’t able to work and they started a business.”
Thynne said that some of the basic advice she gives patients is “Experiment, try different strains, try different methods, try different doses. Start low and go slow. So keep track, take notes.”
Thynne said they need to make sure the strains patients ingest helps with the issues and allow people to be the best person they can be. She added some patients are afraid of getting high from cannabis. They are unaware there are strains of cannabis with low doses of THC that help with the pain. In addition, topicals can be applied to inflamed areas also don’t get you high. Many never knew even using medical marijuana to treat their condition was an option.
She also said that the popular dichotomy of cannabis strains being either Sativa or Indica is outdated and they need to be classified by their cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
“Sativa gives you a head high. Indicas give you a body high. You can only be high in your head,” Thynne said. “Any strain could do one of those things. All strains are hybrids. They’ve all been crossbred…over tens of thousands of years coming together.
The Canna Care Docs staff are a close-knit group of staffers who enjoy their work.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” said Thynne regarding Canna Care Docs.