Pittsburgh is now officially home to one of the first Medical Marijuana dispensaries in the Pennsylvania. I, along with many Pittsburghers, am very excited to see this industry grow here in our town.
The new dispensary located in Squirrel Hill, called Solevo Wellness, is the workplace of Zachary Kesneck, a Patient Care Consultant with a great smile & abundant brains. According to Zach, their job is to guide a patient in understanding what medical marijuana is, what it can do for them, why it is such an important alternative medicine, the degree of cannabis that best suites a specific patient, and what application method would make the most sense for the individual's situation. At Solevo Wellness, they really care about the patient. Between the on-site pharmacists and the experience of the patient care consultants, they truly believe they are impacting all patients’ lives in a progressive and positive way. Personally, Zach believes he can provide valuable information about the potentialities of this plant. He has been studying and independently researching cannabis for over a decade, looking outwards and away from America for knowledge.
“I think I provide a window into what this medicine could do for humanity.”
Meanwhile, over in our sister state of Maryland, medical marijuana has been legalized for more than four years. I interviewed Robert Davis, a pharmacist that has been practicing for 25 years, and who is a co-owner and clinical director of Hi Tide Dispensary in West Ocean City. Robert has roots here in Pittsburgh where he graduated with a degree in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. When giving advice to someone seeking relief in medical marijuana, Robert claims,“Since medical cannabis can be used in a myriad of ways, orally, topically and inhaled, depending on the ailment, there are many choices of both delivery system and use. In some instances, people could use it along with their traditional pharmaceuticals with the hope of lowering the dosages of those pharmaceuticals, or in some cases can eliminate the sleep, anxiety, pain medications etc. that can be very addictive and toxic. Of course myself and the doctors evaluate each case independently.”
Zach has been able to see changes with patients in even the beginning stages of the process here in Pennsylvania.
“There are patients who decrease the amount of pharmaceuticals they take along with patients who have discontinued the use of their pharmaceuticals all together. One of the most important things to me is that when a person’s quality of life improves, sleep improves, appetite improves, and inner rhythms improve.”
Some members of our community, along with many members of other communities, think negatively about marijuana for a variety of reasons, one of them being ill-or-uninformed about the plant, use, history & helpfulness. Robert Davis has found that as the studies continue to come out and the multitude of patients discover the positive health effects and also the ability to eliminate and replace traditional pharmaceuticals with medical cannabis, the views of those people against it will become less and less. He believes this should continue as more studies and documentation are released. When asked what he would say to someone with these negative views, Zachary Kesneck would ask the person to review how the world treats pain, specifically in America. People are inadvertently becoming addicted to pharmaceuticals and all they are trying to do is take care of their pain.
“I think the cannabis industry not only makes a positive economy, but it creates a world that can heal. I would ask that person to please review how this plant has changed people's lives and to reconsider their opinion. Their perspective just needs some help broadening a tid bit.”
With this being said, these companies do face some hurdles here in a country where marijuana is considered by the DEA a Schedule One Offense Drug. “With the federal government stance of keeping it a schedule 1 controlled substance, it makes any entities that deal with the federal government very leery of operating in the medical cannabis industry - and banking is very well entrenched by the Federal Reserve and the federal government. But with hope, things will start to find their way because having banking available to the cannabis industry provides safety and disclosure to all," said Robert Davis.
Pittsburgh is at the beginning of their journey with the legalization of marijuana. Zach includes for Pittsburghers to “Have patience. We are in the ‘Trial & Error’ era of medical cannabis here in PA.” He hopes to see, “recreational cannabis programs that could create tax revenue to provide cheaper cannabis for the patients who actually need it to relieve pain and aid their endocannabinoid systems.”
The bright side shows that there is positive progression in the works related to marijuana. Robert says, “There seems to be a wave traveling across the United States to legalize medical cannabis and it would seem to only be a matter of time before most if not all states have a program in place.”
For Pittsburghers with access to medical marijuana, it is available at Solevo Wellness and if you happen to be in Ocean City, you have access to Hi Tide. Yet what if you are not eligible for medical marijuana, but still are curious of its effects and benefits? There are legal ways to go about this. Zach advises,“Invest in a trip to a state that has a recreational program. You can find really amazing dispensaries out there with incredible products that are effective. The only way to believe this medicine can really help you is to try it and have first hand experience. This plant cannot kill you, so ask questions, inform yourself, and experience what millions of patients keep talking about. No one should have to live with pain and be told there is no other option."