As Vermont’s medical cannabis program evolves and expands, so does the need for the qualification of patients accepted into the Registry. Canna Care Docs, a company that helps incoming patients navigate the necessary legal procedures in order to become a registered medical cannabis cardholder, is set to expand their services to Vermont next month.

While the majority of organizations licensing medical patients on the West Coast stop once the card reaches the client’s hands, Canna Care Docs provides a comprehensive range of client services. Thanks to the medical legalization of cannabis in Vermont, Canna Care patients will now be able to determine what works and what doesn’t through a process they call “Trial and Success.” Approaching the process from the angle of health and medical understanding, Canna Care Docs helps facilitate patient access to doctors and other certified health experts, which in turn offers a more comprehensive and personalized assessment of individual needs. In turn, these recommendations offer greater insight as patients navigate the range of medicinal cannabis products available to them.

When Canna Care Docs opens its Vermont chapter in early September, it will join established locations in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C., and Florida. Canna Care Docs will co-op space with Green State Gardener, a Burlington-based gardening equipment and supply store.

Marta Downing, the COO, CMO, and New Business Development Director of Canna Care, stresses a patient registration system of compassion and medical integrity. “If you come into Canna Care Docs to get a legal card to help legitimate ailments, we are there to help you get into the program.”

While Vermont has been a medical state since 2004, the registry has been small and restrictive until a modest increase in patients in recent years has changed this. “Vermont is not without its challenges, but that’s why we’re here. We want to help patients get through the steps to get a medical card,” stated Downing.

From his Pine St. office, Green State Gardener CEO, Dylan Raap, illustrated the staggered progress in the Vermont Medical Cannabis program. “Per capita, Vermont should be at 10,000 registered patients and right now, we’re not even at 5,000.”

Not only is Registry expansion imperative for individuals seeking legal and safe access to the medicine they require, but it is also crucial to the progression of awareness and scientific understanding of the plant, and its physiological effect on the human body. Dr. Carl Christianson, a specialist in the development of drugs from natural products, who holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry and sits on the board of the Vermont Cannabis Association, explained, “It is impossible to do large scale research on the effects of cannabis when it is federally a Schedule 1 narcotic; there is a lack of research in cannabinoid receptors and pathways, and everybody reacts to cannabis differently. However, it helps when states legalize and this is where Canna Care steps in; they study people on a case by case basis for a better understanding of treatment that is more precise and medically accurate than what a dispensary owner could offer.”

The close proximity and philosophical alignment Canna Care Docs shares with Green State Gardener represents an important transition towards a more transparent, patient-centered, statewide medical cannabis program. “Under the same roof as Green State Gardener, Canna Care will help expedite the [patient registration] process even more,” Raap stated. Downing reinforced this notion when she explained the partnership between the two companies: “Canna Care helps people determine what they need to grow, Green State Gardener will help them to grow their medicine.”

Working with lawmakers to draft new medical cannabis legislation is not out of the question either. Establishing a strong connection with government entities is also imperative for Canna Care as they begin their work in Vermont. Continued Downing, “We hope to build a great relationship with the Department of Consumer Services, and that could go as far as drafting legislation.”

Canna Care’s emergence, which coincides with an expanding statewide registry, signals an important shift in medical, scientific, and legal progress for a movement that has seen plenty of obstacles thrown its way. However, as Marta Downing pointed out, the fight is far from over: “The war on drugs is a war on black and brown. We want to work towards a day when this is no longer an issue and incorporate these types of people into the industry, as well as more women.” For now, citizens will have to take the victories as they come. In Vermont, patients will enjoy the benefits of this newfound advocacy from a company that recognizes patients’ right to scientifically-specific medicine, tailored to meet their individual medical needs.