Article by Elianna Lev, Leafly
Dr. Michael Verbora spent six years in medical school, but in that time, only 30 minutes were devoted to learning about cannabis.
Now the lead physician at a clinic that prescribes medicinal cannabis to Canadian patients, Verbora is baffled at his alma mater’s limited curriculum.
“We were taught that it was a drug that had high potential for abuse and that it could cause anxiety and addiction problems,” he tells Leafly. “That’s really about it. In psychiatry you learn about cannabis use disorder and how it can affect people’s mental health negatively.”
After finishing his training at the University of Toronto in 2013, Verbora learned about the Canabo Medical Corp., a chain of clinics that prescribe cannabis to patients referred by a family doctor. At the time, he was clueless that physicians could be the gatekeepers to this type of medicine. He signed up to be a resident at the Toronto Cannabinoid Medical Clinic, where he spent time shadowing another doctor, and soon realized there when it came to cannabis education, a lot was left out of his schooling.
Embracing What Was Not Taught
The first case Verbora heard involved a six-year-old boy who’d previously been prescribed about 10 different pharmaceuticals for chronic seizures. None of them worked. The child’s parents praised the effects of CBD oil, reporting that the compound, which Verbora knew nothing about, helped their son go from 100 seizures a month down to one.
“His parents told me he was walking, talking and doing things for the first time in his life,” says Verbora. “I was completely blown away, especially since no one had told me anything about cannabis.”
The more time he spent in the clinic, the more stories he heard about the positive outcomes cannabis had on patients’ ailments. Verbora decided to learn as much as he could from mentors at the clinic, online tutorials and textbooks. Soon, he was promoted to staff, which gave him the ability to start prescribing. He’s now the medical director of Canabo Medical Corp and physician lead at the Toronto Cannabinoid Medical Clinic.