Bluegrass Cannabis Podcast Episode 30 - Jessilyn Dolan, RN, ACNA
Brought to you by Bluegrass Cannabis, with the latest information, updates, and analysis of Kentucky Cannabis.
[00:00:03.210] - Elijah Today we're talking with Jesse Lynn Dolan, a registered nurse, mom, and farmer. She's been a director for the American Cannabis Nurses Association, is current vice president of the Vermont chapter, and is a lifelong advocate for cannabis. We are very excited to talk with her today, where we'll be looking at the lowdown on mSOS, the best blood legislation for medical patients, and how to put local communities at the forefront of the cannabis conversation. Welcome to the bluegrass podcast, and thank you for stopping by.
[00:00:38.530] - Elijah Do you want to maybe start out and talk about your personal experience starting out with cannabis and how you got introduced?
[00:00:45.990] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah, I rarely talk about that. That's like easy. People go right to my nursing and shit. So, yeah, absolutely. Like my family stuff from way back. So my relationship with cannabis gosh that started way back when, I guess when I was just a kid. I mean, when I look at history, I have my great grandmother who used to bring her special herbs over the Canadian border to us, and my dad, who pretty much I grew up watching, have a joint in his hand at all times for the most part. So I think for me, it was normalized as a kid in a lot of ways from both the recreational and medicinal standpoint. But I was also taught the legal aspects and concerns and bias and how to be careful as a kid and why we don't talk about it, why it's almost a family secret. So it was an interesting, I think, relationship. Growing up as a kid, I was always a little bit nervous that my dad or someone was going to get in trouble. And then personally, for myself, my cannabis consumption started pretty young because I had access, and I saw it almost as a normal thing, and I saw it as a healthier thing than drinking alcohol because they also had alcoholics in my family.
[00:02:06.960] - Jessilyn Dolan So I got to see both personally. I was in a car accident at eight years old, a pretty serious accident. And after that, for the next 1520 years or so, I had anywhere from 30 to 40 surgeries, lots of different pharmaceuticals and pain meds and different alternative natural methods as well. So at a young age, I found cannabis both for physical pain relief, but also for the stress and emotional aspects that come with being a kid, having that much medical stuff going on in my life at such a young age. So cannabis became medicine for me as a young age, whether that was, like I said, for pain or for relaxation, as well as the recreational kind of mental health, wellness with friends. And cannabis has always played a really big part in my life since, and I think in all aspects, from spiritualism to that kind of relaxation with friends, to being then my number one medicine, and still to this day keeping me off what would likely be multiple pharmaceuticals to manage everything. From my medical standpoint, talking about the.
[00:03:19.130] - Elijah Nursing a little bit too did moving into healthcare as a profession and sort of as what you do full time, and I know starting out as well, did your opinion on cannabis evolve at all or change, or has it pretty much been that same core the whole way through?
[00:03:37.470] - Jessilyn Dolan That's a great question. No, it's definitely ebbed and flowed. So right after high school, as a teenager kind of kid using cannabis, of course I experimented with a lot of other harder substances as well and even had some addiction issues that I had to work through. But cannabis was always a safe, supportive herb for myself. But over the years, the relationship definitely ebbed and flowed. From high school, I went right into studying her biology. So I learned more than cannabis. I learned about all the other magical, beautiful healing herbs in the world and how important that was. So I think that relationship was very special. And as most healthcare professionals would tell you, your relationships in many different directions change when you go into nursing and medical school. And during that time, personally, I wasn't able to consume because I had to succumb to some drug testing, as well as looking to apply and get new jobs in a new career I was in, and being, again, unfortunately, having to pass drug testing to be eligible for those jobs. I don't think my stigma or my understanding or respect in overall depth of relationship with the plant ever changed, but my consumption across the span of the years definitely ebbed and flowed, I think, with my career and also some of my political work as well.
[00:05:04.670] - Elijah Do you feel like people maybe not treated you differently, but was there ever a point at which the way that people interacted with you as a healthcare professional changed, or were you always very open about cannabis as a healthcare professional?
[00:05:22.350] - Jessilyn Dolan No, I was not for a while. I was always open about the conversations and supporting patients and people where they're at in the healthcare field. But I also specialized in a very kind of unique area. I worked with opioid use disorder and comorbid, mental health disorders in pregnancy and infancy and infancy withdrawal. So there was so much stigma and bias and different issues going on with the population anyway that I don't think from that professional level did I look at or address cannabis any differently. But my personal consumption was not something I was open about once I did have the relationship back with cannabis with personal consumption, but was still working in the field, I was so from a professional level, I definitely had to, I think, play it a little bit differently than I do now. And over the last five to seven years, I've left some of the nursing roles that I was working in and have worked more in, I'd say roles that are a little more open and not as stigmatized based around parenting and the legal concerns which come from that. So I've been able to be more open about both my stance and my.
[00:06:47.290] - Jessilyn Dolan Use and going all the way from there, all the way to publishing a research paper right. Also involved with moms and with families in cannabis. Right.
[00:06:59.550] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah. This is a great conversation. It reminds me of the title I called one of a speech that I did about my research called Reticent to research, because I really do think I was pretty reluctant to come out there and speak about not only the work that I do, but my stance, let alone my personal consumption because of working with the maternal child health population. So I was very reticent. And I think it was when I got closer to publishing my research that made me feel more comfortable. And I almost feel bad saying that, but it made me feel, in a way, almost more legitimate that people wouldn't come at me with more stigma and frustration and almost anger with working with children and pregnancy and cannabis. So it allowed me, I think, to feel comfortable having a louder voice.
[00:07:50.030] - Elijah And do you want to talk about doing that research and what it was about and who you did it with?
[00:07:57.090] - Jessilyn Dolan Sure. So I was working at the University of Vermont at the time as an IRB research nurse in opioid research. And five years prior, there was a research study that was done on human milk feeding or breastfeeding chest feeding and lactation consultants recommendations and understanding around cannabis. So it wasn't actually a human clinical style trial, because it's hard to get allowance to do cannabis research, let alone when you're human milk feeding or pregnant. So this was a survey regarding lactation professionals understanding and then recommendations, because when we don't have the research, really, recommendations are the biggest thing we have. And this is a trusted population I'm sorry, a trusted professional for this population. So I went to my team and just said, hey, let's do a five year follow up study, because it had been one year post legalization. So with legalization, we wanted to see how the stance has changed. And what we found was that lactation professionals definitely were less likely to tell people that they absolutely had to stop human milk feeding while they were using cannabis, and they were admitting that they needed a lot more information, and we didn't actually have the research that we need.
[00:09:15.120] - Jessilyn Dolan So it was substantial in that it really did show that one year post legalization, the professional healthcare workers were giving different recommendations than they were five years prior. What's interesting is that we have not been able to publish it here in the US. Though it was easily published five year prior, likely because that little bit of almost, I guess, positive look or support in cannabis, where I really wouldn't even call it support more than people just changing some recommendations based on what we now know and legalities. Because during this time period, there was also another research study that came out really detailing more so how much THC does pass through in human milk in a human clinical trial, but limited to eight patients only. So minimal. But that's still the information a lot of us tend to use because that's all we have. Unfortunately, it was significant enough, but the US. Was not willing to publish it. With that, I can say I'm honored and thrilled that I had the opportunity to then publish it with Raphael Michulum at the conference that he presides over in Israel last March. Yeah, so that was fabulous.
[00:10:36.750] - Elijah And you haven't just worked as a healthcare professional, but you also work more with the plant and on the product end as well. You talked about your family time, but you also are on a farm, right?
[00:10:49.030] - Jessilyn Dolan We do, yeah. We've been cultivating hemp, I think this seven, eight years now, and we've had a CBD business and large scale hemp farm. I'm also a medical cannabis patient myself and a caregiver, so I cultivate for another nursing cancer remission. So I've been cultivating for myself and for another patient medicinally for years. My partner has been cultivating for almost 30 years. He's actually a felon for cannabis cultivation way back when. And we're looking hopefully to get a license to grow THC cannabis here in Vermont this spring and summer if we can get it all together and get it going. So, yeah, we're excited to now not just be hemp farmers, but be actual cannabis farmers since Vermont has just opened the market.
[00:11:34.230] - Elijah And have there been any barriers or are you running into any barriers trying to make that transition from hemp to cannabis?
[00:11:42.260] - Jessilyn Dolan Not really. Besides the increased legal aspects of when we opened a hemp business, we didn't have to have money in escrow and present an operating plan agreement to a board to give us approval. So it's just really the legal hoops that you have to jump through. But for the most part, the plan is the same. We feel, like, really comfortable having the experience of large scale hemp farms and doing that really well and really clean and regeneratively. So we're excited to move it into the real deal, THC cannabis.
[00:12:16.330] - Elijah And it's not just you and your partner, right, but also with Rose.
[00:12:21.430] - Jessilyn Dolan Absolutely. My son actually just turned 22, but he was 21 just a week ago, and we were excited. He finally is now 21 years old to be able to do this with us. And it's the first year of Vermont's doing it, so it's perfect timing. But he's been helping us with the hemp for as long as we've been doing it. He's been helping me caregive my plans for as long as I've let him since a teenager. So, yeah, he's a big part of the team and moving forward, we also hope together to be making some concentrates, some hashish and hash.
[00:12:54.530] - Elijah And as someone who has experience with products, with the plant in the healthcare industry, do you have any suggestions in particular for legislators or people looking to try and create a space, and I won't say industry, but an avenue that patients can find good medicine in, oh.
[00:13:17.400] - Jessilyn Dolan So many how long do you have? No, so many suggestions. One, the probably biggest one is actually listen to the patients, listen to the people. As a research nurse, one thing I learned is you can't always trust the research for a number of reasons. As I mentioned, the biggest and most well known cannabis and human milk feeding study is with eight people. And that's almost laughable when you think about research and cohort studies. So listen to the patients, they know more than anything what they need. And that's what I find here in Vermont, legislators don't listen. They listen to the lobbyists and the prohibitionists and the research. But we know research can also be one sided. We know research has been purposefully done in the US over the last 50 years to prove only the negative aspects. So I think we need legislators to understand why anecdotal is so important, what the history of the plant is, and why we have the research we do and the research we don't. And to look at more of a caregiver giver and patient centric model and to move away from large corporate cannabis needing to be the backbone of medical cannabis when we really need it.
[00:14:31.330] - Jessilyn Dolan To be a community driven almost CSA kind of community, shared agriculture, and especially here in Vermont because we're such a farming community, but really have the local farmers, the local craftspeople, crafting the products and supporting one another and not looking to big money. I want to say big pharma, but they're not necessarily big pharma yet here in Vermont, but big mSOS and out of state and out of country money who don't understand the personal connection, the community and don't have those heart connections involved. And that's what we need to take care of patients.
[00:15:11.850] - Elijah And I think for some people maybe would you like to dive in a little further? Why you said that, I know you said it's because there's a disconnect between the mSOS and communities. But what are some of the things that you've seen come out of that or things that you've seen go wrong because of that? Because I think a lot of people view mSOS as their preferred. So what are some sort of nitty gritty details about why communities can do these things that maybe the mSOS aren't as able or even interested to do?
[00:15:45.190] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah, I can speak here to Vermont because truthfully, I don't know a lot of other state, individual state legislation and how it works and how their programs work. And as an herbalist, I feel so strongly kind of stick with your local herbs anyway, so I know Vermont here and here in Vermont, we're very tiny and people need to remember that. 600,000 people, a little bit more than that, but about for our entire state. So my state is like most counties, but because of that, we also are tight knit and know one another. We only have five medical dispensaries in our entire state here, each one run by a different MSO without a state or out of country money. And they have the money to also have lobbyists. So what we found is the lobbyists and the grassroots activists are actively working against each other in legislation. So a couple of examples. Last year as a grassroots team, we got a seat for a patient on the Cannabis Advisory Board. Within a couple of days, the lobbyists from the MSO came in and removed that seat from the patient and gave it to them to have a voice instead.
[00:16:48.540] - Jessilyn Dolan So we had to fight harder to have patients voices involved. Here in Vermont, the mSOS have again had the lobbying power and the time in the state house to make it so that they do not have to pay or have mandated lab testing for contaminant testing or third party it can be in house where our adult program is mandated third party testing and for contaminants. So there's a few things that unfortunately our mSOS have lobbied against, what I would consider both consumer safety and access for even home grow, unfortunately, to benefit their financial bottom dollar, instead of putting the patient first by allowing a patient to grow by allowing so I can keep going. But those are just a couple of examples of some of the differences here in Vermont. And another last example I'll give you and then you can kind of ask me for more for more questions. But just today, I talked to a mom of an eight year old who was doing wonderfully well and seizure free for almost two years from the cannabis medicine they were receiving from the medical dispensary. But the medical dispensary is no longer carrying that because now they are focusing more on making financial profits from the adult use market.
[00:18:08.400] - Jessilyn Dolan And this is something I've heard from multiple patients in the last few weeks. So unfortunately, our medical mSOS are also catering more to the adult use market and looking towards profit before patients.
[00:18:22.720] - Elijah I 100% understand that we saw a similar thing in Illinois when I worked there at an independent dispensary. I was there during the transition from medical to recreational, and we had a similar story. I wanted to ask you about the point on lab testing and how these different companies and mSOS test their products. Is it just the testing of the product or is it also the quality of the product that they're testing?
[00:18:50.210] - Jessilyn Dolan I think there's definitely a huge difference in quality. So what I always speak to is the fact that these small local cultivators and mom and pop retailers are craft. They're small craft growers compared to large corporate conglomerate growers. So we know the quality differs, especially here in Vermont. We have a big focus on organics and regenerative growing, which anybody who understands real connoisseur quality cannabis understands quality difference and how that is much better than what our conglomerate corporate mSOS are doing here, which is salt and synthetic growing. So there's a big difference in quality. But from that contaminant consumer safety aspect, I mean, it is an oxymoron to say that our adult use program has third party mandated testing, but our medical program lobbyists have worked it so that they don't have third party and it's only cannabinoid testing only. So as a healthcare professional, it saddens me, but I probably say that multiple times a day, if not a week to patients and basically state that I shouldn't be telling you this, but this is an oxymoron based on some of the legislative lobbying that has happened.
[00:20:09.690] - Elijah And this isn't so much focused on healthcare, but do you feel that maybe the craft growers are a little bit more I don't want to say committed, but a little bit more invested? Let's say their reputations, their names, their place in the community is on the line.
[00:20:27.150] - Jessilyn Dolan They do, especially here in Vermont. We're so tiny. It's a really tight knit community on top of the fact of they want to take care of their own, their locals wanting to take care of other locals. So I have these small craft, Vermonters wanting to donate and willing to donate and have been donating for years to support patients. And then we look at the prices and the lack of accessibility based on lack of affordability at the medical dispensaries and it's almost heartbreaking. So I think not only from the reputation standpoint because Vermont is so tiny, but from that I'm a local wanting to help another child or another elderly person or another mom in my community. So I think it's a combination of both. Absolutely. And I'm so glad and grateful for our cannabis community here in Vermont. But that last example I gave you, the child that no longer gets an actual topical patch any longer from the medical dispensary. There's no local small mom and pop manufacturers that have the machinery and the money to make something like that. So that's a real unfortunate conundrum.
[00:21:40.330] - Elijah It's so interesting that you mentioned the topical patches. That was one of the major products, like agreeing with you in Illinois. That was one of the things that they flipped and took away there as well. Once it went to recreational, they quit producing patches almost entirely because probably it's.
[00:21:56.340] - Jessilyn Dolan Not making the money anymore, and they're moving towards what's making them more money. Which I understand from the business perspective. But that's why we've tried to get put into statute and legislation saying that you have to have a program in place for affordability and discounts. You have to mandate that they still have a certain stockpile amount of the cannabis and the different cannabis products that are needed and already used at a dispensary. So I just got off a phone call today with some of my other grassroots advocates, and we actually do have something in legislation saying they have to have a certain amount of products on hand, but it doesn't specify that they can't discontinue a more unique or rare product because we know it's not a money maker comparatively. So it's unfortunate. Again, it comes down to profits over patients.
[00:22:48.870] - Elijah And I wanted to roll back around to homegrown, and this seems like a good chance to do so, especially talking about price point and affordability and maybe some of these more niche things that if there's a certain plant that you need something for, maybe it's not commercial, but it is necessary.
[00:23:07.500] - Jessilyn Dolan Absolutely. Here in Vermont, we do allow home grow, which is great, but we only allow two plants in flower, which is extremely limiting. And when we think about affordability, you think about outdoor growing compared to indoor growing and the setup and the lights and the electricity bill. So only growing two plants a year, outdoor once a year is not enough. So we've been fighting for years. We finally do have a plant increase listed in one of our bills, which has got off the wall and made it past crossover. So we're hopeful to look at an increase. But even the increase they're giving isn't enough, I think. As we know, we have legislators making laws about medical and about cultivation, two things they really don't know about. And again, I really just wish they would listen to patients stories. I have a friend who is a cultivator for a pediatric cancer patient, and he goes on record often to testify about the amount of plants he would actually need to grow to be able to provide a child with enough concentrated medicine they need. And that two is not even close. And we just again need them to listen to constituents, listen to patients, and not basically, I feel, pick an arbitrary number and just say, sure, two plants is it, but they don't understand what and why.
[00:24:23.550] - Jessilyn Dolan So affordability, accessibility absolutely. Should be with home grow, but then we also have to address rentals and the places people live, which is the majority of Vermonters that aren't allowed to grow where they live.
[00:24:39.730] - Elijah Also, I also want to ask you a question. Do you think that maybe home grow is a little bit more important right now? Also because I think that a lot of people don't realize that patients can't get their medicine covered under insurance.
[00:24:54.870] - Jessilyn Dolan Right. It's affordability. I mean, when you look at the cost of growing an ounce versus buying an ounce, it's like tenfold. So you might be able to grow a pound for $300, but you're going to buy a pound for $3,000 at the cannabis dispensary. So that's enormous. Absolutely. But then we have to realize some patients physically can't grow. So that's why we need to build a patient and caregiver centered program and be able to have caregivers. In Vermont, I'm only allowed to caregive for one person, where if I'm a successful grower, why can't I caregive for three people or five people, and my patient is only allowed to have one caregiver? Well, what if I get sick? What if my plants get sick? What if I can't produce enough? This harvest, she needs more than one caregiver to be able to ensure she has the medicine she needs as well. So I think cultivating is absolutely one of the answers. But we need caregivers. We need higher plant counts and then we need the education behind it too. Because I think, unfortunately, I see a lot of people grow, but they don't quite understand and don't make the most of it or at sometimes.
[00:26:04.280] - Jessilyn Dolan Often, unfortunately, can grow some mold and bugs here in Vermont, especially with outdoor, and not quite have the support and education they need.
[00:26:13.900] - Elijah Working on education, too. What do you think is a way that this education and these sort of ideas and concepts and information can make their way to legislators? Or what ways have you found that are effective to get them this message?
[00:26:29.730] - Jessilyn Dolan Luckily, here in Vermont, we're pretty small, so oftentimes we can get our legislators and reps on the phone. Not always, not always easy. So we try to do a lot of campaigns to have email campaigns reaching out. I think that's helpful. I'm not sure how that affects one legislator versus another. I'm sure they all work and feel pretty differently than one another, but really it's just about the squeaky wheel gets the grease is the idea you have to email over and over, you have to call over and over. So advocacy does take some time and some effort, but making yourself heard is the best thing that anyone and everyone can do for patients and for the plant. And I encourage people to find a way. And I always say, hey, if you can't or you're uncomfortable, reach out to me or do it anonymously. Find a way to do it anonymously. And usually another advocate will help you do that. Or if you're nervous to do it, I can walk you through the steps. I wrote a blog years ago for the American Cannabis Nurses Association, just teaching or talking about pretty much how easy it is to advocate, but how nerve wracking it is for some people.
[00:27:42.220] - Jessilyn Dolan So making a joke of it and saying hey, sure, go to testify. Don't bring your vape pen in your pocket and put on deodorant written by a farmer. But recognize that your voice matters. And you don't have to be the absolute biggest expert, and you don't have to have a seven page research paper. But you do need to speak up, because if no one speaks up, we get nowhere. And it does take speaking up multiple times and multiple people to really make the change. For me, I found it was when I joined a team to work together. We were much more successful also than me just trying to do everything on my own.
[00:28:18.810] - Elijah And I don't know if this is true, and I wanted to ask you about this, but at our dispensary, since you brought up working with American Cannabis Nurses Association nurses in Illinois at the time I was there were much more receptive to information. We're much more willing to work with patients around cannabis, and the doctors were not so much. Pharmacists were not so much. Is there a reason why the healthcare industry divides certain times or maybe is more likely or less likely to support?
[00:28:55.330] - Jessilyn Dolan One thing I always laugh and mention is doctors tend not to take communication or nutrition classes, and nurses do. So you can kind of see philosophy right there. In some ways. I think a lot of it is it's really the stigma and the bias. And nurses are taught more so from my understanding, because I'm a nurse and I went to nursing school right, to meet a patient where they're at, regardless of the one appointment they might have with the doctor or meet the doctor for an hour in the hospital. They have round the clock nursing care, and we have to be the ones to sit down next to them and go eye to eye with them and be able to help them regardless if we agree or not. And oftentimes there is a difference in philosophy and opinion and ethics or agree to disagree. But I find nurses are more able and willing to meet patients where they're at, and that is harm reduction, that is support, that is education, and doctors more so are coming from the perspective of I know and I'm telling you and let me teach you, then let me listen to you necessarily.
[00:30:07.910] - Elijah Do you think that attitude maybe also comes out just because of proximity, the fact that you're so close to and I hate putting it this way, but the suffering and the pain and the emotion of it, yeah, in a lot.
[00:30:23.420] - Jessilyn Dolan Of ways I do. I think the nurses bring the more human connection and touch and approach. Like when I think of someone in the hospital, they're going to see the doctor for 20 minutes, they're going to see the doctor. I mean, the nurse 24/7. So I do think it's a different role. Nurses, I think, also are more so caregivers in life in general, outside of their nursing, regardless of their career and their job and what aspect of nursing they're working in. And I think doctors come from all branches of life and personalities where most nurses really do have that caregiver side.
[00:31:01.100] - Elijah This is a question more for a goal. If you were crafting the patient forward, community forward legislation, how would you go about putting it forward if you had. A wish list of these are the changes I could make and this is the wand that gets waived. How would you change things in Vermont? Or what do you want there that would best serve patients, do you think, in your opinion, like, do you mean. [00:31:28.470] - Jessilyn Dolan My 15 policy points that I want changed or how would I actually get. [00:31:32.330] - Elijah It to change the policy points themselves? Yeah, that's the want part. If you didn't have to deal with the legislators or the pharmacies.
[00:31:41.030] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah, again, like I said, I work with a team of some other wonderful folks. So we have kind of a large wish list for sure. But we also understand we're playing a game of chess and are only going to get so much at first. I think some of the bigger ones for us is really to have the caregiver. So have more caregivers, be able to take care of more patients, have patients be able to have more than one caregiver. And I feel that's so important. When we think about pediatrics, we think about 24/7 round the clock care. We think about baby boomers and the aging population and how we want more people to be able to access cannabis medicine than other pharmaceuticals and opioids. But we need more caregivers with that. We need more cultivation for the affordability of that access, as we talked about. So we really want to see that plant count increased here in Vermont because it is so limiting, unfortunately. So that's another big one we've been working towards. We're really asking, but we're not getting far with legislation to have patients allowed to shop at adult use dispensaries without paying taxation.
[00:32:44.740] - Jessilyn Dolan Here in Vermont, we only have five medical dispensaries. We have people driving an hour and a half, 2 hours to get to a medical dispensary where they have an adult use five minutes up the road, but they have to pay an extra 22% tax. So we really want to see that taxation changed. We want reciprocity for out of staters to come in and have access to medical cannabis without paying or adult use cannabis without paying that extra taxation as well. We're looking to increase the reason someone can get a medical card here in Vermont. It's pretty limiting. We only have maybe 810 different reasons or disease processes or treatments that someone is eligible for a medical card. And we'd like to change that from a disease focus system to a symptom management so people can have symptoms recognized and then the caregiver should be the one able to make that decision as to whether that they are eligible and they should or could be using cannabis medicinally. We're looking for anyone who gets an opioid prescription to have access to a medical cannabis card immediately, if that's what they choose and if they're willing and are comfortable with that.
[00:33:59.430] - Jessilyn Dolan We are gosh, there's so many points we're looking for. We are asking to have either price cap or a patient subsidized system or some kind of program to help the affordability for patients. We are asking to keep the money from the patient program separate from the adult use program, which unfortunately, Vermont has taken a chunk away from patients a few years ago to put it in the state's general fund. So we're looking for protections for that. As we talked about before, with the medical dispensaries having less mandated lab testing than adult use, we're looking to have the medical be as comprehensive as adult use, as well as have mandated education. Here in Vermont, adult use has more mandated education than our medical program does. Again, another oxymoron here. So we're really looking at making some big sweeping changes. Only three of our policy points got into the bill that we're working on that actually got off the wall and got past crossover this past week, so we won't see a lot of changes. But it's only the first year in our biennium, so we're hoping next year to be able to add a few more.
[00:35:17.780] - Jessilyn Dolan And as we go through the rest of the process of the one bill that we're working on right now, see if we can add another policy point or so, and we want delivery for patients from Adult Use. I think we have a lot of needed changes and we haven't even gotten into some of the bigger, more progressive changes. Like how? Like the Ryan law in California, where they're now allowed to administer cannabis in retirement homes and other healthcare facilities. We still don't allow cannabis in schools. We still don't have any protection for workers or dressing insurance covering it in workers comp situations, or health care insurance. So we still have pretty far to go in my mind in Vermont just to get us on the same level of some of the more established and more progressive programs out west. So we have years of fighting and.
[00:36:16.930] - Elijah Advocating and those were some things that you're looking for and that you want to add in. Is there anything that you see in the legislation or that you've seen play out that you would like to now or that you had to work to get rid of or you had to kind of slap a strike on?
[00:36:37.990] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah, there's definitely things that have passed that we're not thrilled about. In the last year or so, they added fingerprints for caregivers where that was never anything we needed. But that is in the bill to again remove that. A couple of years ago, we added PTSD, but you need a second signature from a mental health care provider. We have that in a bill moving forward to hopefully remove that provision. So I think it has went back and forth over the years and not always in the way that's patient supportive in the way we want. I don't know if I answered that right.
[00:37:13.760] - Elijah No, you did. I was just going to follow up with. Do you have any more examples of just things in that vein of I don't like this, maybe, or you have trepidation about it even, or even things that you're looking at that you think might be questionable? Just because we're going through this process now and in the next couple of years we'll get the established bill. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on legislative things that maybe prevented you from moving forward.
[00:37:45.850] - Jessilyn Dolan Yes. For here in Vermont, I think it's some of the issues as to who is allowed to legally make the changes. Like, we have a medical, well, supposedly a patient advocacy committee that met a couple of times a year for a few years and then it didn't meet for two or three years. And now they have a seat on an advisory board that they're not filling because they're not meeting. And no matter how much noise we make, we can't get the committee to meet and we can't get somebody to sit on that seat. So even though we've changed and legislatively advocated it and got that written into statute, that is a committee, it's not actually meeting and doing what it needs to do. So I think just recognizing that even some of the changes that are made, you might have to continue to follow up and fight on even after you think it's done and ready to rock and supposed to be working the way it is. I think that's one challenge we've found in the last year or two. We've also found that we've worked with legislators who we think are on top of it.
[00:38:55.410] - Jessilyn Dolan And we just had someone in the last week submit a bill that was supposed to have some medical provisions in it and had none. And it just kind of unfortunately happened that way and we thought it was all prepped, ready to go, good to go. So I think there's also recognizing the fact that this is one of a million other things legislators are working on, and even though they say they want to champion and prioritize it, they aren't always able to, or it just kind of falls off the wayside. Because, again, this is, in some people's opinion, just another not as important thing as a lot of other things going on in legislation, especially the last few years. The challenge to get any airtime compared to the first year to a COVID was understandable but very challenging. And then the last thing, I guess for us here is realizing that it's not one person or one body or maybe always not the person or the body that we think is making the changes. Our Cannabis control board can only do certain changes where they have to wait for legislation to do other things. They have control of the medical Cannabis Board, but they're not allowed to do certain things that we would hope would be more easily changed and more quickly to change.
[00:40:15.950] - Jessilyn Dolan So recognizing and kind of working in the system. And for me, that's been the challenging and frustrating part of you think you're getting somewhere and you don't necessarily and you don't really want to play the game of chess as much as you have to, but you have to do a lot more give and take than you might want to, or even be willing to. But you have to play that way.
[00:40:38.950] - Elijah And if anybody wanted to find out more about you or your farm or your products, how would they go about doing that?
[00:40:47.830] - Jessilyn Dolan I have a website. It's Vermontcannabasnurse.com and social media. I don't do a ton on social media, and that is on Instagram. And you can tell I don't know what I'm talking about because I have the longest handle ever as far as social media. It is nurse. Grown underscore Vermont cana nurse.
[00:41:12.990] - Elijah And if anybody was looking for maybe medicinal resources or cultivation resources or patient resources, maybe not for Vermont specifically, but do you have any general resources that would be good for them to look into?
[00:41:29.570] - Jessilyn Dolan There's a great online course I always recommend if someone wants to dive deeper into education that way, and it's patient and medical focus, but for some folks, it's definitely TMI because it's deep into medical. That's called holistic caring. That's one place I recommend cultivation wise. I really tell people, just get in your community, talk to folks, reach out to your like. We have the farming associations and the organic farmer groups here in Vermont that I've connected with. I would say reach out to them, and they should have more local sources from the medical standpoint. Definitely seeing what your state has, states are unique. And I know here in Vermont, I offer a free nurse cannabis nurse hotline. There is a national cannabis nurse hotline as well. It's leaf four one one. I think that would be great for some folks to access. And then, yeah, I'd say I'd say people in your state reach out to you. People in if you know a cannabis person in your state. A lot of us are connected as far as knowing who to refer to locally, because we really do have the community heart and the community feel.
[00:42:39.950] - Jessilyn Dolan And I'm always trying to use my local resources to say, hey, go check this person out and make those connections, because you never know where those connections lead locally as well. And I always encourage that more than the bigger national education programs and hotlines and just really to kind of invest and get into your own community. Because if you're going to be especially a patient, you're going to want to have those community resources and support. And I wish, but I do not know many other states. I could tell you everything here about Vermont.
[00:43:10.540] - Elijah And before I let you go, was there anything that you wanted to get out there or anything that you wanted to tell people that might be listening?
[00:43:19.190] - Jessilyn Dolan Oh, gosh. I guess the number one thing I like to tell people is to create a relationship with the plant, whatever that means to you, and challenge yourself to have a deeper relationship with the plant. To know your farmer. And not just know your farmer, to know how it's grown. And start to learn why that matters. And be part of your process as much as you can. If you can grow your own, great. If you can make your own brownies, awesome. So being as part of the relationship with cannabis, recognizing that it's very different and we want it to be different than popping a pill or popping open a beer can, we want really to have that relationship with cannabis. Because that brings us kind of right back to Earth and our relationship with nature and all circling back to healing and what this plant really means.
[00:44:14.490] - Elijah Jesse Lynn, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it and I'm glad we got the chance to do this.
[00:44:20.970] - Jessilyn Dolan Yeah, absolutely. It's great to connect and catch up with you. I hope you're doing well and I appreciate all that you're doing and all the work you've been doing legislatively. I really do like to honor people's time and commitment because I know how heavy and how often it is for grassroots volunteers and to put yourself out there and some of the work you've been doing and making change for fighting for cannabis families and kids. So thank you so much for all you do. I really appreciate you.
[00:44:51.350] - Elijah Thank you for listening. If you're a bluegrass, country or singer songwriter, send in your submissions. We feature one song per episode and would love to play yours. Also, did you know that our store is up and available? Grab a set of our new Bluegrass Banjo stickers, die cut and made of long lasting vinyl so that you can help put the grass back in the bluegrass. Available on bluegrasscannabis.com. If you'd like to follow us on social media, we are at bluegrass Cannabis, on Instagram, at Bluegrass Hemp, on Facebook, at bluegrass cannabis on TikTok and at Bluegrasscana on Twitter. Don't forget to subscribe and never miss an episode. Wherever you listen to podcasts, we're available on YouTube, itunes, Spotify and more. Thank you so much for listening and stopping by the Bluegrass Podcast old fashioned, all natural Kentucky bluegrass
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