Name: Erin Prosk
Hometown: Quesnel, BC
Current city: Montreal, QC
Number of years working in medical cannabis and what do you do?
I’ve worked in medical cannabis for a very long, yet also remarkably short 7 years, always in the area of patient access and education. I first launched a nonprofit dispensary and cannabis kitchen with my partner Adam Greenblatt until 2014 when we opened Santé Cannabis to support patient access under the MMPR and the research mandate in Quebec.
How did you get involved in the medical cannabis space?
I had been interested in drug policy and social justice as a student but was unable to match my passion with my skillset in analytical chemistry and applied math. Finally, I was convinced that I had to jump into medical cannabis with full abandon. I am very grateful for the support and mentorship that led me to my place in entrepreneurship, education and clinical research.
What was your first impression of cannabis as medicine?
That it had massive untapped potential to ease suffering and improve quality of life. While I knew many cannabis connoisseurs at McGill, my first contact with medical cannabis came when meeting my partner’s father Michael Greenblatt. He was 25 years into fighting MS and took a multitude of different medications to keep his symptoms at bay, sometimes at very high doses. A few drops of cannabis oil, baked into a cookie- and later on into his favourite Dark Chocolate peppermints- eased his nausea, relaxed his spasms, boosted his appetite and lifted his mood. This was a transformative experience for me.
What’s one of the biggest challenges of working in the medical cannabis industry?
Building or maintaining bridges between different interests. With the diversity of voices in the cannabis industry, it can be frustrating to hear only the loudest ones or those that have been raised onto a platform.
What is the biggest misconception or myth about medical cannabis?
That it is somehow ‘different’ and by extension makes those who use it ‘different’. This is something that I find even patient advocates can perpetuate and need to be conscious of. Cannabis is a natural medicine that we need to re-normalize into our society. By re-normalizing we must seek evidence-based information, and we must accept the limitations of that research and the potential risks. I find that people who use cannabis as medicine can feel isolated and marginalized. At Santé Cannabis we work to empower patients to take the reins of their own health care and to consider medical cannabis as a perfectly normal treatment to integrate into their daily lives.
What resources do you use to keep up to date on medical cannabis?
I am unfortunately an un-intentional social media luddite- I can barely keep up with my emails. I am lucky to work with a great team who support my deficiencies by emailing me links to new articles and papers. They swear by Twitter and Facebook for engaging with other advocates and leaders in the cannabis and health care space.
Who do you see as having the greatest impact to the field of medical cannabis right now?
While legalization is a disruptor on the horizon that we need to keep in our focus, I am incredibly optimistic about the number of clinical trials underway in Canada right now. I can see the path to broad access to innovative new medical cannabis products, pharmacy distribution and universal cost-coverage opening up in front of us.
Our free Medical Cannabis forum is happening on June 21st, 2017
Come out and hear from panelists, like Dr. Maida, about what’s up-and-coming in the field of medical cannabis and what that means for you.