Article by High! Canada
High! Canada Magazine also got the opportunity to speak with Patient Educators Ashley Orr and Marisa Josling.
Ashley, can you tell me about your cannabis origin story?
Ashley Orr: My name is Ashley, I am a patient educator at Hello Cannabis and until recently I have been working on the other side of the spectrum of patient care. I have a background in Addictions Counselling & Social Service I am also a certified Personal Trainer. I have experience as a frontline intake worker and counseled in emergency homeless shelters. I have been a part of harm reduction models across the city such Needle Exchanges as part of a clean using initiative and Wet Houses for palliative alcohol dependant civilians who were in and out of the justice system. Before I started with Hello Cannabis I was working at a methadone clinic in Hamilton’s roughest neighbourhood. Today I am proud to be a part of the solution.
What made you take that job in Cannabis?
Ashley Orr: Currently the chain for prescribing for pain starts with Opioids, Cannabis is the last resort. Opioid related deaths are on the rise in our country and in particular the city I grew up in. I want to make a difference. Patients should have the choice of what they are putting into their body, and that’s exactly why I am here.
Ashley, coming from a Harm Reduction background, what are your thoughts on the Hello Cannabis Goodbye Opioids project that Hello Cannabis is going to be launching?
Ashley Orr: I am super passionate about this project. Cannabis is being prescribed for mental and physical illness which if not treated could lead to life-threatening coping strategies like abusing street drugs & alcohol and reckless behaviour. Reports of decreased impaired driving, crime, and addiction in Colorado are a foreshadow of what to expect here and it really makes me excited to come to work every day and be a part of the movement.
Marisa can you tell us about your role and how you got into cannabis?
Marisa Josling: My name is Marisa and I am a patient educator here at Hello Cannabis. In January 2017, I left my job of nearly 5 years and was hired at a dispensary in Hamilton, Ontario. The reason I decided to get into the cannabis industry was because of my longtime battle with depression and anxiety. My doctor prescribed me Zoloft but the side effects were awful. I felt as though I was unable to show my emotions, even if I should have been jumping for joy. I decided to start self-medicating and wean myself off of the Zoloft with the help of cannabis. My good friend Abby worked at a dispensary here in Hamilton, Ontario and told me to come in, speak with their naturopath and start my cannabis journey. Abby showed me the benefit of cannabis and the strains that would help me with my depression and anxiety. Within a month I was able to get off of Zoloft and medicate with cannabis for mental health. With my cannabis story, I was hired on as a receptionist where I learned a lot more about the cannabis plant itself. I was then certified through the Trichome Institution which furthered my knowledge of cannabis. But with legalization just around the corner, I needed to think of my future and find a career in a sustainable industry. In January 2018, I was hired on as a patient educator for Hello Cannabis and I couldn’t have been more excited to learn about the medical cannabis industry! I am so glad to know I am helping to educate patients and guide them towards their path to obtaining legal medical cannabis.
Do you two think you can take me through an average day, let’s say a Wednesday here at Hello Cannabis?
Marisa Josling: To best serve our patients we always start off with a group meeting at the beginning of our work day followed by a plan of action. Whether it is a brief education call, booking an appointment with a Physician or placing a follow-up call, we always ensure that the well being of our patients is our top priority… oh, and coffee. We have to ensure coffee makes it into our day, every day.
How do you differentiate which licensed producer is going to be right for each patient?
Marisa Josling: Each patient’s Licensed Producer is established by a series of questions completed during our intake process. The LP can be determined in multiple ways. For example; their past history with cannabis, their medical issues, their financial situation, and even where they reside can be a big part of their LP selection. Also, a big part of the LP selection process is based on the patient’s choice of consumption.
Do you find yourselves doing a lot of follow up with your Hello Cannabis clients?
Marisa Josling: Yes! Each patient that we onboard at Hello Cannabis is thoroughly checked up upon whether it be asking them how their first order went or letting them know if their renewal is coming up. We build strong relationships with our patients ensuring they can trust in us and be able to ask any questions they have. We are always readily available for our patients and ensure them with the trust and education they need to feel confident in their decision to medicate with cannabis.
Now Marisa, your background is a dispensary worker did you find that valuable coming into a role like this where you were going to have to have some degree of expertise when it came to what strains did what things for what symptoms?
Marisa Josling: Absolutely! I genuinely thank my last job for all the information they have given me, especially getting me certified through the Trichome Institution. Working alongside some very intellectual people when it comes to cannabis has definitely helped me acquire the information I needed to be in this position here at Hello Cannabis. The great thing about working in the cannabis industry is learning new information every day. This will help pinpoint what products will help different symptoms and make sure the patient is getting the product they need to have a better quality of life.
Do you have any advice for other women entering the cannabis industry?
Marisa Josling: There is a place for women in every industry. Having an interest in cannabis isn’t enough. Make sure you know your cannabinoids and you are always up to date with the current legislation. To become powerful in any company you need to have passion behind your skills. Knowledge is power.
Three things you would like to see happen in this industry?
Ashley Orr: The first thing we need to start with is breaking the stigma. Though education and knowledge we are able to help curb the confusion and break through the complexity surrounding medical cannabis. As a result, potential patients and prescribers are able to understand a different side of the cannabis plant.
Marisa Josling: With patient referrals, word of mouth and more doctors willing to prescribe we will need to open up more Hello Cannabis education centers. Having Hello Cannabis centers open helps to educate the public and ensure that your medicine is coming from safe and clean facilities. I’m also looking forward to the divide between recreational and medical becoming mo