By PL JETER
Hundreds of healthcare providers and executives will converge at Orlando's Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel Oct. 4-6 for the American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association's (AMMPA) third annual conference covering challenges related to the nation's ever-morphing medical marijuana environment.
Orlando-based AMMPA, the nation's largest physician-advocate medical cannabis association, hosts the three-day event, covering topics ranging from medical marijuana basics to physician areas of opportunity.
"We'll have high-end featured speakers, both from science and medical marijuana backgrounds internationally," said AMMPA president Mark Chaet, MD, a pediatric surgeon. "We're very excited about what we're bringing to the table."
AMMPA executive director Savara Hastings said the association's mission is to "bring physicians from zero to 60."
"There's so much more they can do," she pointed out. "We try to at least make them confident in recommendations for various conditions and introduce them to products that have been correctly lab-tested."
First-day events on Friday, Oct. 4, include an overview of medical marijuana pharmacology and understanding the unique endocannabinoid system, which, organizers say, "just may revolutionize the practice of western medicine."
Presentations on specialized challenges surrounding medical marijuana usage - gut health, women's sexuality, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and geriatric patients - dominate the Friday morning line-up.
"We've seen a surge of interest in the media about cannabis and women's health," said Hastings. "The sexual health lecture should be quite interesting. The presenting physician has completed studies to share with the audience. It's an exciting topic."
The Anti-Munchies Appetite Buster for Weight Loss and Metabolic Syndrome is the topic of an early afternoon panel discussion on tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV). Also, on tap: Medical marijuana's role in treating veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and general population post-operative pain management and opioids.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried will give the evening's keynote address.
"She heads the medical cannabis committee and also a hemp committee," explained Hastings. "Since the laws have changed over the last six months, specifically pertaining to hemp laws, but also medical cannabis laws, she'll discuss the crossover of the two."
The schedule on Saturday, Oct. 5, focuses on the impact of medical marijuana on African Americans, autism patients, and central nervous system tumors.
Business seminars highlight key elements needed to build a successful medical marijuana practice, the how-tos of regulatory compliance, medical director responsibilities, and additional physician opportunities.
"Along with presenting fundamental ways physicians can be successful in their offices beyond recommending medical marijuana, we're also helping them with their business model and other services to better assist their patients and careers," said Chaet.
On Saturday evening, keynote speaker Hinanit Koltai, PhD, will discuss promoting cannabis products to pharmaceutical companies.
The conference will wrap around noon on Sunday, Oct. 6, with seminars focusing on "what physicians have learned from recreational marijuana usage in the wild, wild west," according to the program description; the facts on modes of delivery - vaping, smoking and ingesting; and pediatric guidelines for medical marijuana therapy.
Robert Norman, DO, MPH, will share an abstract presentation of medical marijuana use in dermatology.
The 1,250-member AMMPA represents 27 of 34 states - and Canada - that have implemented medical cannabis laws. Five states have CBD oil-only laws; a dozen states have no medical cannabis laws on the books.
"At the conference, we're also going to discuss nationwide expansion of our organization," said Chaet, noting AMMPA held a successful niche conference, The NFL and Medical Cannabis, that attracted some 200 attendants in Miami.
AMMPA's mission: to serve as a physician advocate to facilitate the outline of practice risks and benefits, educational requirements, compliance issues and to provide a unified voice representing physicians interested in cannabinoid medicine.
Online registration is available through Oct. 4 with member rates of $395 and non-member physician rates of $690. Practice manager registration is $400, while the following medical professionals pay $435: physician assistant, registered nurse, resident, nurse practitioner, physical and occupational therapists.
"Right now, only physicians can obtain certification to prescribe medical marijuana, but nurses and supplemental staff are finding the need to become as educated as possible about medical marijuana recommendations as an alternative modality for their patients," noted Hastings.
The deadline for discounted rooms in AMMPA's room block is Sept. 12. Reference the group code AMM to receive the $175 nightly rate online (https://book.passkey.com/go/ammpa2019) or by phone (800-782-4414).