The Limitless Potential of Medical Marijuana: A Chat With Melonie Kotchey

This year, medical marijuana is legal in more than half of the United States. Missouri, Texas, and North Carolina are predicted to be some of the next few states to legalize medical marijuana.

Modern research has proven that it is helpful for relieving symptoms in a variety of diseases, including glaucoma, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. Despite its medicinal benefits, the DEA still classifies it as a Schedule 1 drug, which defines it as an unacceptable substance with a high potential for abuse.

As a Schedule 1 drug, doctors are only limited to writing recommendations on the behalf of their patients. Is marijuana really a drug though? In our modern era, many people know marijuana as a medicinal plant. Some people are using the word “cannabis” more in their everyday language to separate the plant from the stigma surrounded by the word, marijuana.

I do not have a preference regarding the word choice. In fact, I am more interested in its potential to help many more people, including myself. I did not smoke the substance until college. I did not have time for it in high school because I was so busy with studying and working a near full-time schedule.

Since my first encounter with it in college, I have developed great respect for the substance. Twelve years later, I am convinced from reading scientific research that its medicinal use can reduce the symptoms of several inflammatory diseases. Perhaps, there is also hope for me as I suffer from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (an inflammatory disease of the thyroid).

On April 21st and 22nd, Melonie Kotchey (Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Compassionate Certification Centers) and her team will host the World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh. Recently, I spent a few minutes to talk with her.

Kallen: Welcome, Melonie!

Melonie: Thank you, Kallen!

Kallen: You are involved in many professional organizations, specifically the Marijuana Policy Project. They have been tirelessly fighting to convince politicians to be more supportive of the substance.

Did your time in pre-med school become the starting point of changing your opinion about medical marijuana?

Melonie: When you study the endocannabinoid system, you really [have to] take your opinion out of it. The fact is that we all have an endocannabinoid system. So, whether you are for or against cannabis, it is really quite irrelevant. Your body already has those endogenous receptors.

Kallen: I think some people avoid it because they have the notion that using cannabis is going to get them high. The fact is that people can still receive the other benefits of cannabis without getting high.

Melonie: That’s correct. You can take cannabis recreationally and medicinally. Being a physician-owned organization, we have to advocate the use for medical use.

Kallen: You have an exciting upcoming event that will speak about this topic in detail. Tell us more about it.

Melonie: It is so dear to my heart. This is not what we do as a business. We just help educate doctors and mid-level practitioners to integrate cannabis in their practice. The people that need it the most are not at the tradeshows. They are not at the conventions. Even if they are not an advocate, they have an obligation as a physician to learn about the endocannabinoid system.

Our goal for this convention is to put the most number of patients, healthcare providers, and industry leaders all under the same roof. It is one giant industry [that is] too divided.

Kallen: If you cannot make it, it will be broadcasted on several radio stations. So, you may be able to tune in and hear from some of the many great speakers there.  Melonie, thank you for speaking with us.

Melonie: Thank you, Kallen. I appreciate it!