Recently, our newest team member, Ashleigh Brown was interviewed by Business of Cannabis. Have a look at her interview here:
March 12, 2018 – Our CEO, Andrew Muroff was interviewed by the Daily Marijuana Observer (DMO). Read all about Andrew, his own personal journey both personally and professionally with medical cannabis, and what makes him such a passionate leader at Strainprint.
Strainprint is proud to announce our latest member of the Strainprint team, Ashleigh Brown. Ashleigh has come on board to be Strainprint’s Community Manager and Patient Liaison.
Ashleigh’s own journey as a medical cannabis patient as well as the Founder of SheCann: Legal Medical Cannabis Empowering Canadian Women gives her the unique opportunity to deepen the connections she has with fellow patients, as well as channel her empathy, love of learning and all things data into helping patients use cannabis better, and mindfully medicate.
Q: When and why did you start using medical cannabis?
A: I received my medical cannabis prescription in August 2016. I started using medical cannabis as a last resort, really. In 2009, I began having seizures, and by 2016 I had exhausted all of my medical options. At my worst point, I was having 150-180 events per month. I had the cognitive functioning of a 70-year-old with senile dementia. Using medical cannabis has changed all of that. I still have seizures, but they no longer number in the hundreds. I have around 12-15 per month now. I am able to care for my daughters, attend their school events, and I am able to work again.
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: I start every morning with the same few words to myself: ‘let me be of service to people in the ways they need me’. I am passionate about helping people, and what I have learned is that at the core of so much of our human experience is a need to just feel seen. I am passionate about serving people, and I am humbled to be able to do so during some of their darkest and most challenging times.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: I have always been a voracious reader. My nightstand is never without a stack of novels and works of non-fiction, and my Kobo goes with me everywhere. Words are some of my favourite things. I also love to spend time outside with my partner and my two daughters: last year my partner and I purchased a tandem bike, so we could hit the open road together…and embarrass the kids!
Q: What has been a defining moment for you thus far on your medical cannabis journey?
A: I began using medical cannabis at the suggestion of my best friend. Frankly, my first reaction was a bit dismissive. I had used it recreationally and it hadn’t helped. She told me to ‘forget everything I thought I knew about marijuana’. It was the best advice anyone could have given me, and it is the same advice I now give to others every day. Making the mental shift from ‘recreation’ to ‘medication’ is something that happened as a result of that support.
Q: What is the more unexpected thing you’ve encountered along your journey?
A: The biggest surprise in all of this, especially since I began my journey as an advocate, is how many people have these amazing stories of recovery, healing and hope. I am happy to say that my story is not unique: it is one of thousands of accounts of how using medical cannabis has improved and changed lives.
Q: What would you say to your younger/less experienced self?
A: “It gets better.” I love being in my thirties, because enough time has passed that I understand that life happens, but we can and do grow through the challenges. If my younger self was open to listening, I would remind her, and really anyone else, that you have survived 100% of your days. That’s a perfect record.
Q: If you weren’t doing this and could do ANYTHING what would you be doing?
A: I am so happy with my life right now. This all feels like a perfect fit, for me, my family, and my purpose. I can’t imagine doing anything else. But if I had to choose? I think I would work at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. I could scoop poop there for eternity. It is not only one of the most beautiful places on earth, the work that the staff and volunteers do is monumental.
Q: Talk about your involvement with SheCann and why it is such an important forum/platform
A: When I founded SheCann in June of 2017, myself and a handful of other female patients had no idea how it would all unfold. We started the community in order to have a safe space to ask questions, and access resources and support around medical cannabis, without the stigma.
SheCann is a special Canadian Facebook community. It defies the stereotypes of most social media groups. There is no negativity, or hostility. We welcome vulnerability, curiosity, and compassion. We are patient focused, but we also welcome and encourage members of the medical cannabis industry to join us; including Licensed Producers, and clinics. We work closely with groups like CFAMM on the issues that matter to us as patients.
Our members are committed to advocating for themselves and others, and as legalization approaches, we want to speak up on issues that affect our access to medication.
We are stronger together. It is amazing and so empowering to learn more about our medicine by sharing our experiences. There are no stupid questions, and there are no invalid perspectives.
Q: What awards has SheCann/Yourself received?
A: The team and I were blown away to receive 3rd place in the Best Social Media Account-Facebook category at the Canadian Cannabis Awards in November.
Q: What does your daily life look like, beyond work?
A: We have a really diverse and amazing blended family. My daughters are 9 and (almost) 13, I have three brilliant, compassionate and wonderful adult step kids who have equally wonderful partners and spouses, and we have two granddaughters who never fail to keep us all smiling.
Whether you are a medical cannabis patient or a recreational user, tracking your cannabis consumption habits are not only essential but also largely beneficial. Some people find it helpful to chronical their treatment journey in a paper-based journal but often find it inconvenient to capture each interaction and thus have an inaccurate record of useful treatment interactions and outcomes data. For those patients that are looking to learn more about what works best (medically or recreationally), there is an innovative mobile app that provides guidance – Strainprint™.
To read more about Strainprint’s Feature in Direct Cannabis Network click here.
Seniors are among one of the largest existing and largest growing demographics of medical cannabis users , evidenced by international trends as well as is supported by the data collected from the Strainprint app.
A report released late 2017 by Statistics Canada, indicated that older generations are the demographics consuming larger amounts of cannabis within the new age of legalization. This is a strong indicator that cannabis education, and cannabis culture should be targeting seniors, as we face one of the largest demographic shifts the world has seen with its aging Baby Boomers.
At Strainprint we are always curious about learning more about our users; especially when we identify trends in our data. We were interested in answering the following questions: What are seniors using cannabis for? How are they consuming? Here’s an overview of medical cannabis use in seniors, with a future focus on the emerging needs of seniors amidst a significant demographic shift.
Medicinal Use Among Seniors
The data collected by Strainprint on patients 65 years and older revealed that they were using cannabis for 5 common symptoms.
Pain is our body’s response to inflammation and why people turn to prescriptions to manage the physical and emotional difficulty pain presents. For many, joint pain is the most described type of pain for medical cannabis users. Common joint pain conditions include arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint pain, injuries, and cancer and cancer treatment-related pain.
Adding cannabis to the body’s already existing endocannabinoid system delivers a dose of cannabidiol (CBD) to the brain which works to interrupt the pain signals to the brain, bringing alternative pain relief through the natural analgesic effects cannabis is lauded for.
Statistics Canada in 2013 showed that two-thirds of medicinal marijuana users were registering for support for arthritis, which is considered a common later-life onset pain-related disease.
Insomnia and the inability to get a restful sleep is a common complaint amongst seniors. It’s often misconceived that you need less sleep as you age, but as you do get into older years, sleep is an important part of maintaining good physical and mental function and health. As people age, however, it’s commonly reported that many people aren’t able to fall asleep quickly, and stay asleep as they get older. Some of these causes include poor lifestyle habits including alcohol consumption before bed, napping during the day, or not getting enough physical activity.
Cannabis, especially Indica strains, can help people fall asleep faster, and maintain a restful sleep pattern. Those who promote cannabis for insomnia draw upon the way cannabis can also complement other national sleep aids due to the terpenoids present in each and what’s known as The Entourage Effect. Cannabis is also being explored amongst the medical community as a treatment of symptoms of sleep apnea, recognizing that cannabis has a way of inducing restful and relaxed effects on the body, and breathing, when used in proper doses.
The life’s transitions in older age are incredibly stressful and can be traumatic for many as they face many decisions about their future. People in their golden years should be able to enjoy these years stress-free.
For many, life’s transitions as we age, lead to a high level of stress and social anxiety, resulting in a desire to be reclusive or withdrawn to avoid stressful situations. A review of our data revealed many seniors are turning to their vaporizers to reduce stress and finding new ways to manage these transitions that make them more comfortable socializing.
Common strains like Green Crack and Pineapple Express are both sativa dominant strains that boast an energetic and uplifting high, that can be micro dosed for maximum effect without a strong high. When used in small doses through effective microdosing, it may help people move past their own perceived barriers, which is important when trying new things and taking on new social activities that help reduce stress.
The medical cannabis community has embraced CBD rich strains for its effects in boosting mood and increasing the way the brain receives serotonin through its serotonin receptors. CBD has been important in the discussion on medical cannabis for depression and anxiety.
CBD is being celebrated for its neuro-protective and neuro-regenerative properties, and is being embraced by many for its ability to heal the brain per se. The cannabis community and many groups such as Veterans are advocating for CBD access as an effective method to treat the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can be helpful for older adults facing certain traumas through losses or life transitions.
What are Seniors Using?
Strainprint was interested in learning more about cannabis consumption amongst seniors. A data pull from the Strainprint database for this demographic revealed some very interesting trends for how seniors are using cannabis.
We looked at a sample of Strainprint users 65 years and older and discovered that seniors prefer vaping their cannabis, with the overwhelming majority choosing this method. Using oils (edibles, topically) was a close second. What we found interesting is that although vaping is most popular, there are more sessions reported among users of oils, showing more frequency of use for this ingestion method. Smoking cannabis is reported as the third most popular, but with a rather low occurrence of sessions/frequency. Tinctures with frequent use are next, while concentrates fall significantly behind for use among seniors in comparison to more convenient methods.
These statistics are important for clinicians, Licensed Providers, and medical cannabis users to understand insights into methods of use, dosing and effectiveness for treatment of medical conditions.
Engaging Seniors in Medical Cannabis Education
The prevalence of use for common conditions in seniors shows that there is a need to provide this demographic with targeted outreach and education on medical cannabis.
Here are some of the ways the cannabis industry is currently connecting with those over 65:
Cannabis dispensaries like Farmacy in Victoria, BC, revealed that over 50% of their customers are baby boomers. This could very well be due to the retro, classic rock design and culture of the dispensary and its focus on cannabis education for seniors, but either way, seniors are flocking to medical marijuana.
Canada’s big cannabis corporations like Canopy Growth Corporation have been making efforts to speak to retiree groups, as evidenced by a recent speaking event. Cannabis companies are ‘getting real about seniors’ role in cannabis.
Doctors in places like Sarnia, Ontario are embracing medical cannabis as a therapeutic option for many patients, particularly the elderly.
The great thing is that more people are emerging to meet the needs of North America’s senior citizens with medical cannabis.
Including Seniors in the Cannabis Community
As demographics shift in a very real way for our nations with Baby Boomers aging significantly over the next few years, medical cannabis may be getting a new face. When we recognize the uses for cannabis in those over 65, we see the need for a multi-generational approach within the cannabis community.
Dispensaries, Licensed Producers, and cannabis communities need to expand their sales strategies, cannabis education, and engagement to ensure that patients are being heard, understood and are able to maximize the privilege that being a legal medicinal cannabis patient affords.