Onwards and Upwards: Forging the New Oregon Trail
Michael Rochlin, RN, MN, COHN-S, CSP has been educating Oregon Legislators, Regulators, Health Professionals and Cannabis Business Associations (Growers, Processors and Retailers) in Oregon and Washington, since Measure 91 (Adult Use Legalization) passed in Oregon, 2014.1
About Cannabis Nurse Mike in Oregon
Mike helped advocate successfully for HB 21982,3 just signed on Aug. 2, 2017 by Oregon Gov. Brown, resulting in saving the Oregon Medical Cannabis Program (OMMP), and establishing the Oregon Cannabis Commission (OCC).3 OCC members will be appointed in the next 30 days by Gov. Kate Brown, to unify Oregon’s Cannabis Regulations and provide objective answers to lingering public health and safety issues (such as medical-use product quality and therapeutic research).
Mike’s current projects include developing standard supply-chain metrics (such as testing, COA), clinical practice guidelines (including private-duty administration of cannabis), patient-provider education (seniors) and teaching about wellness and healing with cannabinoid therapeutics.
When did you Learn about Cannabis?
Mike learned about Cannabis growing up in the California Bay Area in the 60’s. Even though “Marihuana “ was “illegal,” the 60s were not even close to Nixon’s escalation of terror, known as the “War on Drugs;” codified
“Marihuana” as one of the most dangerous drugs, in the 70s, via the Controlled Substance Act; the lies supporting the Schedule I was purely for political reasons, to disrupt Nixon’s enemies (activists, blacks) admitted to by ex-Nixon counsel & staffer, John Ehrlichman (sound familiar, Kelly-watchers?)The resulting complexity of oppressive laws, prohibitions, property seizures and imprisonment still exist in states without legal protection. The “War” most likely has resulted in the current opioid crisis consuming public health resources, taxes and lives that could have otherwise benefitted from a non-lethal and relatively safe herbal alternative: Cannabis.
It has become so intertwined in national and global drug policy that, it has been difficult to unwind. That is one of the most important underlying reasons that legalization today has become a very confusing and onerous process. Thus, regulations cannot be rational, since the truth about harms was purely a hardcore political / punitive narrative.
What can Nurses Do to Forward the Movement?
Know the Facts
Nurses can help with the conversation, and update the narrative; we are the most trusted of professions for 15 years (Gallup)10, and need to keep our standards of practice high, but not unjustified, based on facts not oppressive narrative. Get educated with the TRUTH. The American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) has an Education & Research Committee, chaired by incoming President-Elect, Carey S. Clark, PhD, RN, AHN-BC, RYT and Cannabis Nurses Network, a global network for nurses, are a few of the main groups here to help.
Get Involved in Your State
Mike has helped successfully defended physician medical licenses (WA, OR) from unjustified complaints, (incurring unnecessary costs and time), thus enabling safe pathways to defend other legal practitioners, such as Nurses.
In his current practice, Mike strives to be non-judgmental re: addictions and socio-economic status; stigma is already significant for chronic pain patients with medication, and is getting worse, after recent CDC prescribing guidelines were adopted per se by Oregon Health Authority. Meaningful provider education or transition was not provided, thereby adding more oppression and excessive costs to treating our most vulnerable citizens.
Educate and Inform
Nurse Mike has helped educate patients with severe pain and complex co-morbidities, case-managing to improve quality of life, reduce disability, and relieve suffering. Polysubstance
“abuse” (alcohol, nicotine and narcotics) can typically be more prevalent in addiction cases; these other substances can be significantly more addicting than Cannabis. Gaming (and cell phones)have recently been shown to be as rewarding, to the brain or more so than most “drugs”. Perhaps Cannabis-use “addiction” (CUD) could be an exaggerated myth? Primarily a behavioral issue, cannabis “abuse” (ed. is this rhetoric more reinforcement for the political propaganda even correct vs dependence…) does not even compare to known dangers of alcohol or nicotine/tobacco addiction.
Why doesn’t my Provider know about Cannabis?
Nearly a century of demonization and punitive measures for
“drug abuse” has inhibited provider-patient communication, reduced healing, destroyed families and succeeded in causing an acute public health crisis beyond rationale belief.
Cannabis is most likely an EXIT drug, NOT a gateway drug; thanks to ASA lawsuit. and has been shown to be promising for clinically opioid withdrawal. Clinical studies must be an immediate priority, and cannot wait any longer. Patients are OUT of TIME.
One cohort of major interest to Mike is Military Veterans. Mike has collaborated with various local and national Veteran groups to obtain safe access while coordinating with the VA. Movement on this front is promising, given dire circumstances (22 suicides per day).It is rewarding to partner with our Veteran’s and a struggle, from Federal inertia.
However, Oregon Congressman Earl Bluemnauer has been a long-term advocate and recently formed a Congressional Cannabis Caucus, including Republican supporters. The struggle continues, but the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be getting brighter.
He encourages interested Nurses to leverage our unique positions as reliable and responsible health educators, and actively engage with state and local lawmakers, establishing a trusting relationship, in order to effect change.
Mike does not regret the personal time/years invested to educate lawmakers, regulatory and business leaders and others who have influence to enable rationale movement forward. The life-long learning about this truly ancient medicine is just beginning to emerge. Indigenous populations may be helpful to recapture the essence.
If you get to the Oregon Growers Fair, in Salem, Aug. 12-13, 2017, you will see Mike active in his community hosting the “Canna Help You©” booth, providing information, facts and data to support medical use or attending the Cannabis Science Conference in Portland, Oregon Aug.29-30th, 2017 where the Cannabis Nurses Network™ Panel will be presenting: Bridging the Gap Between Cannabis and Western Medicine through Nursing.
Why Cannabis Nursing?
Nurse Mike updated his clinical knowledge about therapeutic cannabinoids about 6 years ago, when a family member was in severe pain, and Mike was researching treatment alternatives; another family member had pancreatic cancer; legalization changed the conversation, helping provide safe alternative medical-use discussions with providers.
Even after two years of Legalization in Oregon, Cannabis is still stigmatized for licensed professionals (Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers, etc.), due to outdated and oppressive labor/drug policy laws, so Nurse Mike saw the need to ‘fill the gap’.
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