RN Cari Few Advocates for Cannabis in Patient-Focused Healthcare
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Cari Few is an RN in Ventura, California. She has worked in Labor and Delivery, Post Partum and as an RN Case Manager. She specializes in pediatric case management for children that have some very serious and complex healthcare needs. You can find her on social media @canna_rn. Her products are available at www.thegreensea.com.
How did you get involved in cannabis?
I actually heard about CBD from a patient's mother a couple years back - probably late 2016. Her very young son with multiple complications and was having absence seizures. She was frustrated with the medical community not being able to address his issues quickly and she felt that she was being dismissed when it came to her concerns about pumping her child full of medications and side effects...She told me about CBD oil and more specifically about the Stanley Brothers in Colorado; Charlotte's Web strain of cannabis, Charlotte Figi, and her success with her Dravet Syndrome.
I began my own research via the internet and was amazed at what I learned. As a nurse I needed data and science to unlearn what I thought I knew about cannabis (Just say no to drugs). This research led me to learning about cannabis in healthcare. I found the Medical Cannabis Institute where I took online classes for RNs. This led me to https://cannabisnurses.org and https://www.cannabisnursesnetwork.com/cnnc/ where I attended their event in February 2019. Nurses from all over the world attended. After that I was sold on the idea that cannabis has the potential to change healthcare as we know it. I have been amazed by what this plant has the potential to do for all people but most especially those that western medicine has failed.
During this time I had a personal story happening. I have struggled with autoimmune disorders since my 20s and have been relatively successful with good health through clean and healthy lifestyle choices. However, after we had the Thomas Fires in December 2017, I had some major exacerbations. I became very ill and wasn't getting the type of assistance from western medicine that I wanted/needed. I decided to experiment on myself with full spectrum CBD to see if it would help me. Here's a shocker - I felt better after about 30 days of regular and consistent use. I slept better, I had less pain, I had less anxiety - you know all the typical responses. What I wasn't happy with was the price tag attached and the lack of consistency in products. So I started my own company where I provide consultations for those wanting to use cannabis for their healthcare. Additionally, I have been formulating my own products using a single strain source from a single small farm to ensure consistency. Of course its all "organic" or green and uses GMP. I use other botanicals to increase the synergy and assist the body in what it needs. I am still working out the website and ecommerce site logistics but I would like the focus to be on quality/premium products for affordable prices to those who need it most - offering discounts to patients, veterans, first responders, etc. So many of the bigger companies are riding this "green rush" for revenue. We all need to make money but serving humanity should be first - all things fall into place if we live right.
What is your mission with @canna_rn?
Nurses have a responsibility to speak up for those who don't have a voice, to be leaders in healthcare, to strive for and obtain evidence based research. My mission with @canna_rn is to educate - it started as a way to educate myself and I quickly saw the need to pass it along to anyone willing to listen. This is in line with what all nurses should be doing for their patient population - educate patients and families, ensure safe cannabis practice, provide patient centered care, advocate for free choice in patient care, change political and medical frameworks where necessary - and to break the stigma around cannabis and move it toward legitimacy.
I would also like to point out that at this point in time there is no legitimate status as "Certification" around cannabis specialty or knowledge. Those that use that terminology are taking liberty. However, as awareness changes, many of the regulatory bodies are changing their core values to be more open to establishing a delineated certification in cannabis nursing. This is by no means meant to demean all those amazing nurses out there that have very extensive knowledge around cannabis and cannabis use - because 9 times out of 10 nurses know way more than other practitioners - they often educate physicians and providers.
Where do you see yourself in the industry in 5 years?
I see myself continuing to advocate for the marginalized voices - specifically those that want/need cannabis as a choice in their healthcare. I would love to be involved in US research around the medical benefits of this amazing plant since so much of the evidenced based research is mostly coming out of Israel. We do have some amazing US physicians that I follow and are bringing legitimacy to cannabis as medicine - two favorites: Dustin Sulak, DO. and Bonnie Goldstein, MD.
My hope is that in 5 years I can stand side-by-side with my fellow colleagues in healthcare (nurses, physicians, practitioners, etc) where cannabis is legal and medical cannabis patients are no longer afraid to disclose their use. I see myself continuing to advocate for the marginalized voices - specifically those that want/need cannabis as a choice in their healthcare.
What's the biggest challenge of working in the cannabis space and the biggest reward?
I would say the biggest challenge is finding evidence based research to support anecdotal claims and experiences from the healthcare perspective. Unfortunately we have moved so far away from treating patients based on what helps them feel better and rely entirely on scientific studies. Physicians are indoctrinated to rely on studies in school - this isn't negative per se, but it is limiting if the person isn't seen or heard. Also, studies take a very long time to complete - years to test in labs before human testing can be done. We are so far behind the curve if we rely only on studies. Again I have to give thumbs up to Drs. Sulak and Goldstein for their efforts to bring change.
My biggest reward was helping a friend who didn't know that I was making products. He had been in an auto accident and had a surgery scheduled - while waiting he had tried probably 15 different tinctures and 15 different topicals. He had spent hundreds of dollars and hadn't gotten any relief from his pain and contracted muscles. I formulated a pain salve and gave it to him and within 2 hours he had relief for the first time in weeks - he was practically crying and dancing at the same time. It was the most fulfilling feeling. He has been my best spokesman and salesperson (hahahahaha -- but really, helping him was the biggest reward).