Medical Cannabis Education and Practice

By Pacific College - November 11, 2022
Timothy Byars

The health advantages of cannabis have been the subject of more than 50,000 studies, including hundreds of clinical ones. Cannabis has been shown to be safe and effective in treating a number of different conditions and diseases, including multiple sclerosis, chronic pain in adults, nausea, and vomiting.

According to Timothy Byars, MS, Cannabis Science and Therapeutics, and co-founder of Radicle Health, “cannabis is probably the most well-studied drug on the planet.”

Tim is the Director of  the medical cannabis programs at Pacific College of Health & Science. He has over 20 years of writing, editing, and curriculum development experience. He has been involved in the cannabis industry since 2014.

What are the two cannabis programs at Pacific College of Health and Science?

    1. The Medical Cannabis certificate program. It consists of eight credits and three online classes. A full-time student can complete the program in as few as six months.
    2. Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics (MS-MCT). It’s a new program that was launched in the Fall of 2022, and which consists of 10 online classes and 30 credits. A full-time student can complete the program in as few as twenty months.

Who can join these programs?

The Medical Cannabis certificate program has two tracks available, one for health professionals and one for all other professions such as:

    • Healthcare professionals who are interested in assisting patients who wish to use cannabis medically.
    • The nursing community, as they have long been an early adopter of the cannabis industry.
    • Other professionals such as massage therapists, acupuncturists, health coaches, and health and human performance specialists.

The Master of Science in Medical Cannabis Therapeutics (MS-MCT) program is available for those who meet the following requirements:

    • Bachelor’s degree in health or science related field or 90 credits in related field.
    • Completion of at least one semester of Anatomy/Physiology or a clinical terminal degree or program director’s permission.

How do we close the education gap?

In efforts to close the education gap, Timothy Byars co-founded a company called “Radicle Health” in 2018. Radicle Health is an education company that’s specifically targeted to help healthcare professionals understand how to use cannabis medicinally.

Tim says “I would love to stand here and say that there is no longer a stigma about cannabis and cannabis users, but unfortunately, it’s intransigent, and it’s still here. But I think we’ve come a long way. And I do think we’ve hit a tipping point.”

What are the faced challenges when getting healthcare providers to use and recommend cannabis?

    1. Fear of losing their license – Cannabis is still not yet federally legalized, so clinicians are very wary of possibly facing disciplinary actions for recommending or prescribing it to patients.
    2. Lack of knowledge about cannabis: Medical professionals might lack the knowledge necessary to recommend the best products, determine the right dosage for each patient, understand how the plant interacts with the body, and identify any potential adverse effects.

Why don’t some patients do well with cannabis?

There are so many different types of cannabinoids, and more are constantly being discovered and even synthesized. Individuals don’t all respond to these cannabinoids the same way. Consequently, there is a lot of experimentation that the patient has to go through to find the appropriate product and dosage. As a result of this, there are some patient populations that don’t do so well with cannabis.

How was “Radicle Health” Founded?

Eloise Theisen, a nurse practitioner and a close friend of Tim’s, started a cannabis clinic in 2014. Eloise was having trouble finding the right products for her senior patients, and the right companies to supply those products. Tim and his wife Rebecca believed that they could step in and begin providing consulting services, and that’s how they founded this company.

Tim and Rebecca worked with Eloise’s patients and delivered products to them. Moreover, they sat down with them and made sure that they understood the treatment plan and the dosing instructions. They occasionally needed help learning how to use the vapes and how to inhale cannabis.

However, after three years, California approved Proposition 64, which legalized cannabis use for adults. That proposition also made it possible for municipalities to impose their own local bans on commercial cannabis. And as a result, the majority of the businesses either had to do this illegally or shut down. And as a result, the company they founded had to close.

They had to change course, and in doing so, they founded “Radicle Health,” a movement that aims to bridge the education gap surrounding cannabis. Then, Tim designed a class for Pacific College for the initial certificate program and was hired to teach the class.

Which type of cannabinoid will be more “accepted” in the medical community?

According to Tim, “non-psychoactive cannabinoids are probably the future of cannabis”. Only because this type of cannabinoid has multiple therapeutic uses without the impairing effect; individuals can resume their daily activities, such as driving and working.

Unlike THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which has many medicinal uses, but could cause euphoria. Additionally, the biggest risk with Delta 8 is that most of its products are synthetic and not naturally occurring.

What is the legal future of cannabis?

Regulation and taxation are needed. According to Tim, “we need to have an umbrella. I do hope it’s not over-regulated, because these regulations often have high taxes, and high barriers, lack of access for consumers, and all of this supports the illicit industry.

It doesn’t give entrepreneurs and patients a chance to engage in the legal market. That’s why States should be smart about how they roll out their medical and adult use programs.

And that starts with taxing; if you have high taxes on legal products then people will be getting these products from the illicit markets where they have been getting it for decades and decades.”

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