What 2017 Means for the Medical Cannabis Industry

What 2017 Means for the Medical Cannabis Industry

Dr. Rachel Knox is passionate about cannabis. As an M.D. with formal training in family and integrative medicine, in addition to having an MBA,  she is also a cannabis specialist and the co-founder of the Canna MDs, with her sister Dr. Jessica Knox. Dr. Rachel Knox counsels over 500 patients per month in medical cannabis care and has witnessed cannabis play a significant role in helping patients gain control of, not only their health, but also obtain an overall sense of wellness in their lives.

As such, she is on a mission to destigmatize cannabis use as a safe, effective, and powerful way to heal. I recently chatted with Dr. Rachel to get her thoughts on what the rising federal administration’s views on cannabis mean for the industry. While she believes it’s too early to tell, there are a few concerns.

“It’s evident that medical cannabis and access remain on legislators minds as more states are adopting medical laws. But, in some states where adult (recreational) use has been legalized, we are seeing medical programs [getting] phased out,” she claims.

As “big pharma” positions itself to enter the industry as a major player, one that the federal government has a history of working with, stakeholders–such as patients, cultivators, manufacturers, dispensaries, and legislators–must take a step back and think about what this means for the industry and their respective interests.

(Image: Dr. Rachel Knox)

Here’s more from our interview with Dr. Rachel Knox:

BLACK ENTERPRISE: What are a few factors we should consider in 2017 on the medicinal front?

Dr. Knox: I wish I had a crystal ball to show me what will happen, but while I don’t, I do anticipate that big pharma will attempt to stake a claim in ownership over cannabis as medicine, as state-sanctioned recreational markets devalue the medicinal essence of cannabis. We are already seeing this happen in states like Washington, where the state has enacted allowable limits of common chemicals found in fertilizers, pesticides, and other cultivation products, and has, additionally, prohibited the use “medical cannabis” on all product labels.

BE: So, what does that mean?

Dr. Knox: This means that cannabis and the products made from it are allowed to contain toxic chemicals–to an allowable degree–that, quite honestly, render them non-medicinal. As such, I advise my patients to use only organic, pure, whole plant cannabis and cannabis products that are 100% free of toxic chemicals. You cannot expect to heal from a product that has even trace amounts of toxic elements; this is counterproductive.

Yet, I also believe that the big industry players know this, as well. As recreational products become less medicinal, I do believe we will see big pharma stepping in, as the gatekeeper to cannabis “medicines.”

BE: Is big pharma’s entrance into the market a bad thing?

Dr. Knox: I don’t know for certain, but what I do know for sure is that it’s an incredibly nuanced thing, with plenty of negative implications to match any good ones. However, if I had to choose just one area of concern with big pharma, it would be their lack of care in understanding and respecting natural, whole plant medicine, and the common person’s autonomy in using it.

I do not like how big pharma, the FDA, and big medicine distort, down-play, and discredit natural medicine. Cannabis has been rigorously tested and is considered significantly safer than tobacco and alcohol, and even less addictive than candy and caffeine! What is notable is that these products are all considered toxic, yet are free for public purchase and consumption. To the contrary, because cannabis heals, there has been a monumental struggle to make it mainstream, but not also without restrictive regulation. Where is the logic [in that]?

BE: As a doctor, how do you balance being a proponent of medical cannabis and an opponent of big pharma?

Dr. Knox: I am absolutely a proponent of whole plant cannabis medicine and an opponent of big pharma’s control of it. This does not mean that I don’t advocate for standardization of processing and responsible oversight–I absolutely do, as should we all, because this is integral for mass adoption by patients and healthcare providers alike. I simply believe that people have a right to freely access and use–intentionally and safely–cultivated natural elements as medicine, and this includes cannabis.


Want to learn more? Check back for Part 2 of Dr. Rachel Knox’s 2017 view on medical cannabis.