The cannabis nurse is in
Play • 34 min

Katherine Golden voted against cannabis legalization when it was on the ballot in her home state of Colorado. A lot has changed since then.

Today she runs a free telephone hotline staffed by fellow nurses trained in cannabis medicine, available to answer anyone’s questions about medical cannabis, what CBD does, and anything in between. And there are a lot of questions.

“It's all those beginning questions that someone rightfully so doesn't want to pay $100, $200, $300 for a clinician to ask him some of these questions and just be told, ‘Oh yeah, you're right, it's not right for you — or yes, you can use it,” Golden says.

Cost and accessibility are behind most of Leaf411’s activities, from the free hotline to financial support for pediatric patients to trying to connect low-income patients with reduced-cost programs in their area.

“If it was just a prescription that they had to pay a copay or $15 for their tincture bottle or whatever it is,” says Golden, a registered nurse with over 20 years experience, “their tablets and a tincture bottle, gosh, it would be so much easier. That is our struggle — affordability.”

While cost is a huge barrier to more people using cannabinoid medicine, and despite a sea change of public attitudes over the past decade, anti-marijuana stigmas are still significant and widespread.

One way that people overcome those stigmas is when they get word-of-mouth recommendations or endorsements from people they know and trust. The other is smoking.

“If we can get everyone to understand that smoking or inhalation doesn't have to be a part of the equation, we'd have a lot more people calling us right out of the gate,” she says.

“That’s the stigma we still have to squash with people — thinking about the old ways of using cannabis and just smoking it — and now [we need to communicate] how it's changed to tablets and patches and gels and all kinds of different Western looking medicine that they can be comfortable with.”

Edited and produced by Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man. Music by Desca. 

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