News, Research

These Patient Advocacy Groups Are Working Together to Expand the Scope of Cannabis Research

May 26, 2022 08:00 am ET
These Patient Advocacy Groups Are Working Together to Expand the Scope of Cannabis Research

With new and improved products popping up left and right, legalization initiatives taking off all over the globe, and harmful “stoner” stigmas quickly dissipating, it’s clear that cannabis has entered a new era. The days of “reefer madness” are long over, replaced by a growing acknowledgment of the cannabis plant’s therapeutic abilities. But one area of cannabis medicine is still lagging behind—research.

Cannabis’ federally illegal status has severely stunted investigation into its properties and uses. In turn, cannabis advocates have struggled to properly educate the public with the limited amount of scientific evidence available. Times are changing, though, and the cannabis community is ready for real progress. That’s why nonprofit Realm of Caring, with support from healthcare technology company Veriheal, is making research happen.

A Growing Need for Natural Health Solutions

Patients around the world are in need of natural, alternative medical solutions, and Realm of Caring (RoC) is on a mission to serve them. Dedicated to “redefining what’s possible,” the 501(c)(3) organization has provided 1:1 support and resources to over 69,000 clients as they navigated plant-powered cannabinoid therapy. RoC also works to increase patients’ access to medical cannabis by helping U.S. states pass relevant legislation and educating doctors about the power of cannabis medicine.

Of course, legalization and education efforts can only go so far without data, and that’s where RoC’s research initiatives come into play. In partnership with Johns Hopkins University, home to one of the nation’s top medical research facilities, RoC funds and conducts observational research to better understand the impact of cannabis on consumers’ health and well-being. To help RoC gather volunteers for studies, Veriheal worked some of its digital marketing magic.

Cannabis Advocacy With a Digital Twist

Given Veriheal’s vision of taking the medical cannabis industry to the next level, assisting RoC with its research endeavors made perfect sense. Much like RoC, patient advocacy is at the forefront of Veriheal’s work, which includes connecting patients with medical marijuana (MMJ) doctors, collecting patient data to improve future treatment, and battling harmful cannabis stigmas with education. To date, Veriheal’s global team has helped hundreds of thousands of patients gain access to medical cannabis.

Where Veriheal differs from others in the medical cannabis space is its technological edge. Demonstrated by its proprietary online platform that blossomed into the largest network of MMJ doctors in the U.S., Veriheal has a slew of digital tools geared toward sparking action—which was exactly what RoC needed to get more signups for its IRB-approved Observational Research Registry (ORR). The ORR, an ongoing online survey study, collects self-reported health information to be analyzed by Johns Hopkins for published research papers.

To get the word out about the ORR, Veriheal conducted an email campaign that explained the importance of the study to its audience of over a million cannabis consumers. The campaign drove hundreds of ORR registrations. Drawing from experience marketing its own online appointment bookings, Veriheal also helped RoC revamp its ORR landing page to make it easier than ever for participants to register.

“The collaboration with Veriheal was very fruitful,” said Steve Bond, Realm of Caring’s care team coordinator. “In addition to the large uptick in registrants, we saw an even larger influx of new visitors to our site, enabling them to learn more about our research program.”

Bringing Cannabis Into Mainstream Medicine

While all areas of cannabis research are important, observational research with human subjects is perhaps some of the most needed. That’s because cannabis affects everyone differently, and understanding these variations is critical for effective treatment plans. RoC’s research efforts have already resulted in an enlightening report that revealed a number of specific health improvements among cannabis users versus non-users, warranting clinical trials.

Today’s science is confirming what many cultures have known for centuries. Medicinal cannabis was used for thousands of years before misinformation drove it underground, but passion-fueled operations like RoC and Veriheal are putting it back into the hands of people who need it most. Despite cannabis’ federal illegality, universities, private companies, and even government agencies continue to work to bring the plant into the mainstream. The cannabis movement gains more momentum every day, and it’s safe to say it won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

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