It Takes a Village…

What’s up San Diego!? Johnny T. from SPG here today to discuss my recent trip to San Diego State University. They held a public forum last weekend on our favorite plant, cannabis (Yay!), and our least favorite pills, opioids (Boo!). If you have never been to SDSU, I high-ly suggest arriving a little early prior to your engagement just to check out how beautiful the campus really is. Yeah that’s how this is going to go. I’m already starting with the puns and if you do not like it, then cannaba-bye… just kidding please continue reading!

A panel of experts sat on stage inside Montezuma Hall and responded to a wide range of questions from the audience and Internet alike. The experts included (alphabetical order): Esquire Anthony M. Bettencourt, Dr. Mitzi Mackenzie, and Dr. Sherry Yafai. The host of the evening was Carlos Gutierrez, who did a fantastic job of fielding questions from the audience and redirecting the discussion when it veered off topic. Now let’s get to the weed and potatoes of the event: the experts discussing cannabis as an alternative to opioids!

We will start by acknowledging that a doctor does not master medicine, they practice medicine. This distinction is important to remember when you are deciding on a treatment for your specific medical condition. I am also sure that you, or a loved one, have been told by a doctor to get a second opinion. They will be the first to admit that the human body is complicated and it is important to get as many points of view as possible, which leads us to the theme of the event: education, education, education!

Instead of systematically going through each question asked, I will attempt to summarize the main point each expert tried to convey. The first speaker I want to discuss is Esquire Anthony M. Bettencourt. A sharply dressed associate attorney who quietly waited for his opportunity to strike. Most questions throughout the forum were about the medical side of cannabis, however when legalities were brought up Mr. Bettencourt immediately perked up and gave the most concise answers possible. As Carlos Gutierrez said, “If a man who makes over $200 an hour offers you free advice, you listen.” In my opinion, the most important piece of advice given was to educate yourself about the tiers of law: federal, state, and local. Obviously, anytime federal law and marijuana are involved you are powerless. Your rights on the state and local level become murky and require further investigation. I would always recommend receiving assistance from an attorney because they have to be licensed and can have their license revoked just like a medical doctor. If you find yourself on the right side of the fight, but the wrong side of the law, hire Anthony M. Bettencourt (or someone like him) to represent you!

Marijuana Law, Legal Cannabis

Dr. Mitzi Mackenzie exemplified the theme of the event. Even though she is an extremely educated medical doctor, the reason for her being at the event was to learn more about medical marijuana (and hemp for that matter). She is an adolescent and family therapist who stressed a saying you have probably heard a trillion (it is 2018, thanks inflation) times: It takes a village! Instead of ending it with “…to raise a child!” she broadened the saying and applied it to her patients of all ages. She believes that the only way therapy can truly be successful for someone is if their loved ones are on board. It takes a village and Dr. Mackenzie can be the lifeblood of said village.

Last, but certainly not least, Dr. Sherry Yafai stressed that we (nope, that’s not a typo) need to be the ones to teach medical doctors! She has gone through medical school and knows firsthand that cannabis is NOT apart of the curriculum. Can you imagine a world where budtenders and connoisseurs know more than doctors with medical degrees? While Dr. Yafai is an exception, she cannot reach every M.D. who practices medicine. Otherwise she would be Dr. Santa Yafai. Please don’t tell her I said that…I digress. Her main point was that we need to be vocal about our doctors being more educated regarding medical marijuana. We can do this by contacting the California Board of Doctors and or talking to your doctors personally. While they may not be able to prescribe cannabis, they can discuss it per patient/doctor confidentiality. If they are, as Dr. Mackenzie stated, “closing the door on an opportunity to treat patients”, then maybe it’s time to think about another option. You’re not shopping around, you’re forcing the medical community to focus on an otherwise ignored therapeutic option. If your doctor has no idea what a cannabinoid ratio is, how can they use it to treat you?

In summary, it takes a village! We need to be proactive and seek information for our own good while at the same time, vocalize our concerns so that the medical field can be more in tune with what’s going on regarding the medical benefits of cannabis. Don’t let your doctor shut the door on you. Arm yourself with knowledge because knowledge is power and together, this village will bring about the change we need! 

– Johnny T.


Written By

Jay Iza


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