“What can cannabis be used to treat?”
“What are some specific medical benefits of using cannabis?”
“Is cannabis a good option for treating ________?”
These are some of the most frequently asked questions we get from newly canna-curious individuals who reach out to us for information. Unfortunately, the best answer we currently have for these inquiries is that while there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and some isolated studies indicating a number of potential medicinal properties, more research is needed to know anything for certain. What’s more frustrating is the unnecessary roadblocks preventing scientists and doctors from pursuing answers to these increasingly common questions about cannabis.
Fortunately, one group of Massachusetts-based researchers is dedicated to forging ahead in spite of the challenges. Cannabis Community Care & Research Network (C3RN) is a public benefit corporation and qualified vendor in the CCC’s Social Equity Training program who has been hosting community education events and advocating on behalf of patients, veterans, and disproportionately affected communities since 2017. In that time, they’ve matured into one of the most prominent and respected voices leading the way in cannabis education, advocacy, and, most importantly, research here in the Commonwealth.
In 2018, Dr. Marion McNabb and her associate Randal MacCaffrie established C3RN as an outstanding community resource via their Cannabis Science Series of events that brought together industry leaders, advocates, and other researchers to help reshape how the general public views cannabis. Throughout 2019, they’ve been building on that momentum with the Cannabis Advancement Series, an ongoing lineup of events hosted in partnership with Alternative Treatment for Veterans (ATV) and Joint Venture & Co. featuring healthcare professionals, regulators, and prominent politicians who support major progressive changes in federal marijuana policies.
All of their series events have given communities access to important information and have brought cannabis experts and facts to bear on topics ranging from innovations in science and technology to the role of cannabis in addressing the nationwide opioid epidemic. However, what’s been most beneficial about these events has been C3RN’s ability to leverage them to fuel critical exploratory research into why and how consumers, patients, and even specific demographic groups are currently using cannabis to address medical concerns or improve quality of life.
In June 2018, C3RN partnered with UMass Dartmouth to launch a national anonymous cannabis consumer and patient study designed to identify via survey the consumption patterns, conditions being treated, barriers to use, and other data that could serve as a patient resource and inform future research around what benefits cannabis users are experiencing or seeking. Findings from the survey were presented at C3RN’s final 2018 event, a Cannabis Community-Led Research Symposium, and highlighted, among other insights, that a majority of respondents are actively trying to reduce prescription medication use. What’s more, 80% reported that cannabis improves the quality of their daily life.
The Consumer & Patient study paved the way for C3RN to team up once again with UMass Dartmouth, as well their Advancement Series partners ATV and JV&C, to launch their 2019 survey, which has the potential to prompt real change for one of the nation’s most affected groups, military veterans.
The Veterans Health and Medical Cannabis study, which is ongoing until December 31, 2019, is designed to collect anonymous data from veterans regarding their health and use of medical cannabis as well as its impact on health conditions, quality of life, spending, and access. The study was first proposed by veteran and ATV founder Steve Mandile. Part of his and ATV’s mission is to raise awareness and alter how the Department of Veterans Affairs views medicinal cannabis. This study will provide vital data that could help inform policymakers and healthcare providers of how cannabis can be used as an alternative therapy.
The study is a convenience sampling self-report anonymous survey of U.S. Military veterans over the age of 21. Any veterans who would like to participate can take the survey here: