Most use it ‘for medicine:’ Cannabis conference focuses on medicinal uses and changing landscape for marijuana in Connecticut – Hartford Courant

Adult recreational use of cannabis is now legal in Connecticut, years after medicinal use of cannabis became legal. But to Kebra Smith-Bolden, all cannabis is medicinal.

“Health care professionals have a responsibility to be knowledgeable about cannabis, how it interacts, how it may affect a patient’s overall health status,” said Smith-Bolden, a nurse and cannabis entrepreneur. “It’s important for the patient to know as well.”

Smith-Bolden has organized the Northeast Cannabis Nursing Conference, a gathering of health professionals, patients, entrepreneurs, attorneys, CEOs and anyone else interested in how cannabis can be part of their health regimen or their professional future.

The event is June 25 from 10 am to 4 pm at Omni Hotel, 155 Temple St. in New Haven.

The conference will feature panel discussions and speakers addressing all facets of the cannabis industry: medical, legal, entrepreneurial, social equity. But apropos the name of the conference, the strongest focus is on medical.

“We’ll have panels about chronic illness, pain management, hospice and palliative care, how cannabis is used for those purposes, how to deal with patients across an entire life span,” Smith-Bolden said.

Smith-Bolden said the normalization of cannabis use across the board is good for those who seek it for medical purposes. “People who feel they need it are more willing to talk about it openly. There is less of a stigma, ”she said. “More people are open about cannabis use as it is integrated into the medical world and outside the medical world.”

Corey Burchman, chief medical officer for Acreage Holdings, a medical dispensary firm, is one of the day’s speakers. Burchman’s firm, Acreage, recently announced that it has launched a social-equity partnership with Smith-Bolden for operations in Connecticut.

Burchman agrees with Smith-Bolden that even recreational use is predominantly medical.

“The vast majority of cannabis users use it for some medical reason, relaxation, anti-anxiety, to combat insomnia, pain relief. Even though they’re getting it from a recreational source, they are still using it as medicine, ”Burchman said.

“It could be called self-medicating, but when people take vitamin supplements, they’m self-medicating. When they get a massage to release endorphins, they’re self-medicating. Some use it to treat Crohn’s disease, colitis. Cannabis can improve pain. Cancer and chemo patients use it to improve pain, increase appetite, decrease nausea. ”

Smith-Bolden and Burchman said even though cannabis is available to all adults without a medical card, there are still advantages to acquiring cannabis medicinally.

“You have documentation about why you are consuming this, which is necessary for many of our patients. There are reduced taxes, you can grow your own, and you can talk to a pharmacist to understand the entire picture, ”Smith Bolden said. “When buying for adult use, you will not have that same sort of thorough interaction.”

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Burchman added that once they’re open, recreational dispensaries will be more popular than medical dispensaries, which would make medical dispensaries less visible, but medical dispensaries are still necessary to find items recreational dispensaries might not have.

“Products, maybe high-potency products that certain cancer patients need, you can not find in the recreational market,” he said. “In more mature markets, like California and Colorado, the longstanding medical market was usurped and eclipsed by the recreational market, but they still preserved medical dispensaries, sometimes a store within a store.”

The conference will feature a “Cannabiz Pitch Contest,” at which entrepreneurs can present ideas for a cannabis business. Judges are Reginald Stanfield of JustinCredible Cultivation and Margeaux Bruner of Trulieve. The winner will receive $ 1,000.

Speakers at the conference include:

  • Melissa Bouchard, RN, of Bennabis Health, provider of cannabis health insurance coverage.
  • Sharnette Johnson, RN, founder of MogulMomma, which trains cannabis-care nurses.
  • Dr. Marion McNabb, president of research firm Cannabis Center of Excellence.
  • Jessie Gill, RN, founder of Marijuana Mommy, an online resource of cannabis information.
  • Alan Ao, founder of Plants and Prescriptions, a pharmacist and cannabis educator.
  • Dr. Kristine de Jesus of The Wellness Cooperative, a wellness consulting firm.
  • Solonje Burnett, CEO of Humble Bloom, a cannabis education and advocacy organization.
  • Sephida Artis-Mills, president of the National Cannabis Party.
  • Chirali Patel, of the Blaze Law Firm in New Jersey, specializing in cannabis law.
  • Nique Pichette, RN, of Cannabis Nurses Network.
  • Tanya Osborne, founder of Cannadiva, which advocates for women in the cannabis industry.
  • Mary Pryor of Canna Clusive, which advocates for inclusivity in the cannabis industry.
  • Nicole Greco, a cannabis educator and holistic dental hygienist.
  • Jade Sancho-Duser, CEO of MaryJade Therapeutics.

Other activities at the conference are entrepreneur demonstrations, free medical certifications for the first 30 participants who request them (and have qualifying conditions), massages, aromatherapy, networking, lunch and music.

Admission to the Northeast Cannabis Nursing Conference is $ 150. All are welcome. For details, visit or email

Susan Dunne can be reached at

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