As the Medical Cannabis Market continues to grow, many are wondering if there is a bubble occurring similar to the dot.com bubble at the turn of the century. That may be true from an investing perspective, but the real strength to the cannabis market is in the medicinal properties of cannabinoids.
Of course, there are many traditional pharmaceutical companies, including some of the biggest, looking into the medicinal properties of various cannabinoids and endocannabinoids. But in many markets medical cannabis companies already have products available to help patients. So, what is stopping healthcare providers from using the products as they do other medications?
I think there are two main reasons for the lack of expansive adoption of medical cannabis with healthcare providers; misinformation, and lack of knowledge.
Misinformation is rampant surrounding the cannabis industry. Every time you see a b-roll from a news outlet talking about medical cannabis, they always use the term “medical marijuana” and insert some pictures of hippies smoking a joint. This type of refer madness exposure is not helpful to the industry in any way. It turns the healthcare professional off and reinforces a societal perception that it is all about the high. I have even seen this type of misinformation presented often, even in states that don’t allow the plant to be sold.
The market misinformation is not just on the consumer level, it is also on the industry and professional levels. I recently read an article posted on Philly.com about medical cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania. The author ranted about a group of physicians that had claimed they had finished their registration with the state of Pennsylvania. In the process of pointing out the misinformation frosm the group of doctors, the author went on to spew his own misinformation. Later in the article, as the author was discussing an upcoming conference being conducted by Syndikos Investments which also owns the group of physicians he was ranting about, he pointed out one of the sponsors of the conference was a licensed grower/producer. He implied the grower/producer should not be sponsoring the event because the PA Medical Cannabis law (1181.31 Practitioner prohibitions subpart b) states program practitioners should not have a ”direct or economic interest” with the folks holding a grower/processor permit. In actuality, what the law says is “A practitioner may not hold a direct or economic interest in a medical marijuana organization”. The true language is a far cry from what is being implied. I am not sure if this was intentional or not, but it is not the first time I have heard that grower/processors can’t promote to or educate healthcare providers. Yes, there are restrictions on how the promotion should be conducted, but it is allowed.
Lack of Knowledge: The percentage of healthcare providers participating in medical cannabis programs is small. The healthcare provider is a significant “stakeholder” being somewhat ignored by the medical cannabis industry. Healthcare providers are trained in the scientific method and only use products that show evidence of an effect. Put yourself in their shoes. You are being asked to relieve a patient’s pain. The patient asks you to treat her with a product you have no experience with, and have never seen any evidence to its ability to help. The patient is entrusting you to help them using all your years of experience and knowledge. Are you going to turn to a product with no evidence of effectiveness, or are you more likely to use something that you have been educated on and you have used before?
Even if a patient comes to a physician requesting a product, the amount of times a product is actually prescribed is limited. According to the GAO, only 2% to 7% of patients who requested a drug in response to a Direct to Consumer advertisement ultimately received a prescription for the drug. Instead of prescribing the requested product, more than 93% of the time healthcare providers suggest a different course of treatment. Healthcare providers naturally revert to something they have knowledge and evidence showing the product should work.
The key to overcoming inertia in healthcare is to engage and educate the providers so they are empowered to recommend or at the very least not object to medical cannabis for their patients. Companies that begin to allocate some of their promotional dollars to disseminate cannabis scientific evidence to healthcare providers will enjoy significant top of mind awareness which will directly translate into increased revenues.
At my company, BioCan Healthcare Marketing, we assist growers, manufacturers, and dispensaries to develop, communicate, and disseminate scientific evidence using patient-centered, proven strategies to promote and enhance the health of diverse populations. We believe every key player in the medical cannabis industry, from growers to dispensaries, should have a medical marketing component within their overall marketing plan. A 420 Medical Marketing program can transform the cannabis science into practice delivering increased awareness and usage for companies.
About BioCan Healthcare Marketing: BioCan Healthcare Marketing (www.biocan-hm.com) a Pennsylvania-based medical marketing firm dedicated to the cannabis market. The company is an evidence-based agency that provides strategy development and tactical execution services to medical cannabis companies looking to improve their healthcare stakeholder awareness and usage. 420’s marketing practices utilize proven techniques to develop product awareness, trial, and usage within the health care marketplace. Our focus is on optimizing the medical cannabis patient’s journey through the healthcare system to cannabis treatment. The 420 team has decades of high level strategic and execution experience in health care across a broad range of disease states and therapeutic areas. This facilitates our ability to provide comprehensive strategic and tactical solutions to assist cannabis enterprises in realizing their full revenue potential. To learn more, please visit www.biocan-hm.com or contact:
Stephen Casey Managing Partner Scasey@biocan-hm.com
Michael Caso Managing Partner MCaso@Biocan-hm.com
Image sources: Pina Messina and Lucas Vasquez, Unsplash Stock Photos