DENVER — A group of Colorado medical professionals is coming together to create a nonprofit to help old and new cannabis consumers.
Leaf411 is a new medical helpline that focuses on helping consumers navigate medical marijuana use.
“We created this free cannabis nurse hotline so anyone from anywhere can call and speak to a cannabis-trained nurse,” said Jennifer Axcell, the chief operating officer of Leaf411.
The nonprofit is overseen by an advisory board made up of nurses, a medical doctor and attorneys.
Callers can remain anonymous and receive free advice from a team of registered nurses.
Axcell said with recreational use of marijuana already legal in eight states, and as more states decriminalize the drug, potential consumers have a lot of questions.
“Cannabis as a medicine is a journey. Finding your dose and finding what works for you, and even after having the appointment with the doctor, there were still more questions,” Axcell said.
“Ten years ago, I was in a really terrible car accident that had me chemically dependent on a bunch of different pharmaceuticals. When I went to my prescribing physician looking into getting off the medications, I was turned away because it was federally illegal and he didn’t know anything,” Axcell said.
Axcell’s journey led her to a cannabis clinician's office in Boulder, Colorado, where she met registered nurse and Leaf411 CEO Katherine Golden, who was also looking for medical marijuana answers.
“My close family member was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in his 40s — no history of smoking, and my family was devastated,” Golden said.
“Being the nurse in the family, I said, 'Well, let me look into the validity of this cannabis.’ When I did a deeper dive into cannabis, I was actually angry that a lot of this medical knowledge had been withheld from us that we could be exposing to our patients.”
Golden and Axcell said, so far, a large portion of their calls come from patients seeking pharmaceutical drug relief, especially seniors.
“Seniors are the fastest growing demographic of new users nationally,” Axcell said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2002, marijuana use among those ages 55 to 64 has increased by 455%.
“A lot of senior callers still believe that the only way to get medicine is inhaling. So it’s wonderful to be able to say, 'no, there’s all these other formulations out there,' ” Golden said.
From patches to edibles to vaporizers, Golden and Axcell said no matter a patient's age, Leaf411’s goal is to arm consumers with the knowledge they need to make the best medical decisions for themselves.
Leaf411 is partly funded by the marijuana industry. To learn more, click here.