With the help of a dedicated team, the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) continues to build momentum, as we educate- learn- and talk about marijuana for medical use and the impact of the unlawful use of marijuana on minority communities and Floridians. During this time in October, we recognize breast cancer awareness month or National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which began on Thursday, October 1, 2020, and ends on Saturday, October 31, 2020. Here are a few Statistics You Should Know:

• About 1 in 8 United States women (about 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.

• In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the US, along with 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

• About 2,620 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2020. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.

• About 42,170 women in the United States are expected to die in 2020 from breast cancer. Death rates have been steady in women under the age of 50 since 2007 but have continued to drop in women over 50. The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1.3 percent per year from 2013 to 2017. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.

• For women in the United States, breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.

• As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the US. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.

(Source: Diverseabilitymagazine.com, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” 2020)

We continue to educate, learn, and talk about marijuana for medical use in Cancer (one of the qualifying conditions) treatment, that will be discussed during this month’s virtual forum, Conversations on Cannabis: What’s New in Florida?, on October 26, 2020, at 7 p.m. Additional information regarding the virtual forum is contained in this issue of MMERI’s eNewsletter.

Please stay safe,

Patricia Green-Powell, Ph.D.
Executive Director, MMERI
Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative External Advisory Council (MMERIEAC) Member Spotlight – Bhavin Patel, M.D.
The Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) is pleased to introduce another esteemed member of the advisory council. Dr. Bhavin Patel serves as the Chief Practice Management Officer of Healthy Option Consulting. He graduated from the University of Florida as a Microbiologist, followed by graduate studies at St. Matthews University School of Medicine in George Town, Grand Cayman, British West Indies (BWI). His experience as Chief Operating Officer for three primary care walk-in clinics that sub-specialize in medical cannabis consultations and anti-addiction services provides their practice with the unique ability to assess existing practice workflow and documentation protocols and maximize the office efficiencies of medical cannabis practices. In addition, of Healthy Option Consulting Dr. Patel is an owner of a Medical Marijuana and CBD hemp laboratory for third party
testing in Port St. Lucie.
Looking Back – Statewide Engagement
The unlawful use of marijuana was the focus of the September 28, 2020 Conversations on Cannabis: What’s New in Florida? virtual forum. Viewers enjoyed an informative and engaging, two-way discussion with legal experts, Attorney Patricia Dawson, Law Office of Patricia Dawson, P. A., and MMERIEAC Chair, and Chief Terence Calloway, Florida A&M University’s Assistant Vice President of Safety/Chief of Police. Protocols for a, “stop by law enforcement”, deciphering medical marijuana vs. unlawful marijuana use, and potential employer and housing challenges, were some of the many insightful discussion points and informational takeaways from this forum.

Feedback from Floridians

The Conversations on Cannabis: What's New in Florida? virtual forum on Monday, September 28, 2020 was streamed live on Facebook and was very successful. During the forum, a question from a participant stated – African Americans are found to be significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites and inquired advice about how more African Americans can protect themselves from becoming another statistic.
Looking Forward – Calendar Alert
The C-Word [Cancer] is one we would all appreciate never having to endure. Unfortunately, we (nor our loved ones) are exempt and we must be fully aware should we ever have the fateful encounter. MMERI will bring you another informative Conversations on Cannabis: What’s New in Florida? virtual forum on Monday, October 26, 2020 at 7 p.m. with Bhavin Patel, M.D., Healthy Option Consulting, and MMERIEAC member. Jenifer Perdomo, a community educator for Trulieve, and cancer survivor, will accompany Dr. Patel on the panel. Viewers will have the opportunity to be educated, learn and talk about medical marijuana as a treatment option for cancer patients. Please click the link below to register today.
During COVID-19
MMERI has developed a Basic Education Course
The Basic Medical Marijuana Education Course is making a positive impact on minorities and Floridians as MMERI seeks to educate, learn, talk about marijuana for medical use and the impact of the unlawful use. The course is available on the MMERI Website at: mmeri.famu.edu
Key findings regarding the Basic Course April – June 2020
Participants of the Basic Medical Marijuana Education Course Online Survey indicated that they gained knowledge and a better understanding of medical and lawful marijuana, and they were overwhelmingly satisfied with the curriculum:

“Did your knowledge and understanding of marijuana for medical use improve?”
Yes-95%; No 5%

“Did your knowledge and understanding of unlawful use of marijuana improve?”
Yes-93%; No-7%

“On a scale of 1-5, with 5 as extremely satisfied and 1 as the lowest level of satisfaction, how would you rate your experience with the course?”
Extremely Satisfied 77.5%
Somewhat Satisfied 15%
Others 7.5%

Please click on the tab below and take a few minutes to view the course and take the survey.
The FAMU MMERI Intermediate Medical Marijuana Education Course
The Intermediate Medical Marijuana Education Course is designed for those interested in going beyond the current Basic Medical Marijuana Education Course, to a deeper more contextual and analytical understanding (Bloom, 1956) of marijuana for medical use and the impact of unlawful use of marijuana.

The targeted audience may include, but not limited to, health care professions, allied health workers, qualified patients, social service workers, highly motivated individuals who took the Basic Medical Marijuana Education Course, and home health caregivers.

Some of the topics covered:

  • Chemical difference between Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
  • Various definitions and terms
  • Roles: caregivers, Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs), Office of Medical Marijuana Use (OMMU), physicians, patients
  • Classification of the prevention strategies and consequence of unlawful use of marijuana into six dimensions (social, occupational, spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional)
  • And several other engaging topics
MMERI Recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 1 – October 31, 2020)
Healthcare Update – Medical Cannabis and Cancer
The discussion of cannabis and its use in cancer patients is a timely hot button issue.

First, we must specifically DEFINE what Medical Cannabis is:

Medical Cannabis can represent ANY combination/ratio of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids, administered via different delivery methods, the purpose of which is to exert a therapeutic effect.

The cumulative action of the above 3 agents is what we call the “entourage effect.”

When it comes to its use in patients with various cancers, cannabis is used with 2 purposes:

Dr. Michael McKenzie, Board Certified Family Physician, Diplomate of the American Academy of Cannabinoid Medicine, Member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians

  1. Alleviate the chemo-associated nausea and vomiting and increase appetite in those patients with malignancy-associated anorexia.
  2. Unlock the anti-tumor effects of Cannabinoids as a therapeutic adjunct to Chemotherapy (off-label, of course).

The first time that the potential for anti-tumor effect was seen was in 1974 at the Medical College of Virginia. Lewis Lung Adenocarcinoma in mice was inhibited by the oral administration of THC1. While researchers made that observation, they had no idea why it happened or what the mechanism was. It wasn’t until 16 years later in Israel where Dr. Raphael Mechoulam et al. discovered the components of our Endocannabinoid System.

Over time, researchers were able to figure out the mechanism by which cannabis acts on malignant cells. To put it concisely, when Cannabinoids attach to the cannabinoid receptors on the malignant cell (CB1, CB2), it triggers a cascade of intercellular reactions, the end result being what is called APOPTOSIS, or programmed cell death (“cellular suicide”). The healthy non-malignant cells, on the other hand, do not undergo such a process, thereby sparing the healthy cell.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more research that needs to be done in this area. While the concept is there, the main challenge before us is how to WEAPONIZE that in order to give patients the best results while at the same time minimizing harms. More to come.

[1] Antineoplastic activity of Cannabinoids; A E Munson, L S Harris, M A Friedman, W L Dewey, R A Carchman;; J Natl Cancer Inst; 1975 Sep;55(3):597- 602. DOI: 10.1093/jnci/55.3.597.
What You Should Know: Q & A

Qualified physician: a person who holds an active, unrestricted license as an allopathic physician (ch. 458, F.S.) or as an osteopathic physician (ch. 459, F.S.) and meets the statutory requirements for physician education.

Qualified patient: a Florida resident who has been added to the use registry by a physician to receive medical marijuana or a delivery device and who has a use registry ID card.

Caregiver: a Florida resident who has agreed to assist with a patient’s medical use of marijuana, has a use registry ID card, and meets the statutory requirements to qualify for the position. This person is also called a legal representative in prior documentation from the Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Dispensary: a retail location, owned and operated by an approved treatment center, where patients and caregivers can purchase medical marijuana and delivery devices.

Medical Marijuana Treatment Center: any entity that holds an active, unrestricted license to cultivate, process, transport, and dispense low-THC cannabis, medical cannabis, and cannabis delivery devices.

Source: Medical Marijuana in Florida, A Law Enforcement Reference Guide, March 2019 
Visit mmeri.famu.edu/repository to find MMERI's digital resources.

Visit www.knowthefactsmmj.com to learn more on how to obtain a medical marijuana card.
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Florida A&M University
Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI)

625 E. Tennessee Street, Suite 210 • Tallahassee, Florida 32308
(850) 561-2456