HOPEGROWN :: The Who, What, When, Where & Why
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In the Beginning...
Hopegrown is, and always has been, focused on protecting patients. Before Washington and Colorado had legalized, before Prop D had passed in LA and before Dr. Sanjay Gupta told America that marijuana wasn’t as bad as they thought it was…Hopegrown was hard at work helping patients navigate this quickly changing and often confusing world of cannabis. Pete Lamptey and Peter Story began Hopegrown in LA, but their mission and their vision extended far beyond the borders of California. That mission was to provide safe and reliable internet resources for patients looking to improve their quality of life with cannabis.
Before simplifying the process of connecting prospective patients with cannabis medicines, it was obvious that education had to be at the forefront of Hopegrown’s cyber real estate. This was born from Pete & Peter’s startling realization early on that the general public was mostly unaware of general medical marijuana facts. They didn’t know medical marijuana laws, state or local. They didn’t know of the vast selection of medicines available, unaware of CBD products like CBD gummies or THC edibles like infused pasta sauces. Few people had even visited a medical marijuana website. Most didn’t know that MMJ is a common abbreviation for medical marijuana, nor did they know that marijuana is a pejorative term and the correct word to use is cannabis. Occasionally Pete & Peter would find small patches of people who had heard of hemp oil cancer treatments and marijuana for military veterans, but the average person didn’t know much, outside of some general slang terms like “weed” or “pot” or whatever news bite they had just ingested from a media outlet.
Becoming a Legal Patient...
One of the monumental tasks Hopegrown took on in the beginning was to simplify and demystify the process of becoming a legal medical marijuana patient. California became the model as Hopegrown built, and soon began to host, the New Patient Pathway — an interactive and educational tool to guide trepidatious individuals through the ABCs of becoming a legal cannabis patient. This is one part of the patient’s journey that is typically fraught with misinformation. Many would-be patients think that they're on a mission to get a “medical marijuana card”. They know they need medical marijuana for pain and they know they need to see a medical marijuana doctor, but most don’t know that they’re not looking for a “card” at all.
What a prospective patient needs is a Letter of Recommendation or a Doctor’s Recommendation. This is a simple letter or form from a doctor or a licensed physician that states the patient's condition would medically benefit from cannabis use. A Medical Marijuana Caregiver’s License is a recommendation written by an MMJ doctor allowing the caregiver to procure and administer the cannabis medicine(s) for the patient. In addition, most of the doctors on the Hopegrown Network are associated with an MMJ lawyer to make sure the patient’s Letter of Recommendation is legal/valid if called into question.
Hopegrown loves to dispel myths. One of the most common misconceptions in California is the belief that seeing a doctor and becoming a cannabis patient puts that individual on a “list” that employers and/or government officials are privy to. This is simply not true. Some states require patients to register their status with the Department of Health. California doesn’t require its patients to register with any state agency. Regardless, any US citizen’s cannabis use is protected under the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and is a part of the patient-physician confidentiality agreement. A patient’s cannabis use is a private health matter between the patient, his/her physician and the cannabis provider.
The Hopegrown Network...
Hopegrown’s objective has always been to build a network of doctors that could be trusted. For the longest time, Los Angeles has been considered the “Wild West” of the MMJ industry. This has been due mainly to the ease of obtaining a Dr.’s Recommendation. There are many illegal clinics and non-licensed individuals writing “recommendations” that undiscerning or illegal dispensaries are accepting. These types of transactions are happening on such a large scale that local and state law enforcement agencies cannot keep up. And Los Angeles may be the worst, but is certainly not the only area and California is not the only state. How, then, is a problem like this solved? Simple. Identify the tax-paying, law-abiding entities and drive public interest in their direction, diverting business away from illegal organizations.
It’s this climate that has inspired Hopegrown to vet every profile, doctor and collective, on its network. The Hopegrown Network is a system of checks and balances that operates to exclusively list law-abiding businesses and organizations that are patient-focused. For the longest time, Pete & Peter’s motto was to fill the network with “…places you’d send your mom to.” Their hope was that someday a 55 year-old breast cancer patient would come home after a meeting with her oncologist and Google “cannabis doctors near me” and Hopegrown.org would be at the top of the list, helping as many people in as many places as possible.
Hopegrown has never wanted to leave patients in the lurch after reaching the first check point: “Getting a Dr.’s Rec”. That’s why the New Patient Pathway (NPP) includes video and information about cannabis as a medicine and a health agent. Many people who come to Hopegrown feel as though they are running out of options and it’s exciting to share with those same people how many options are now available to them. Hopegrown wants patients to know that there are medical marijuana oils available including CBD hemp oil -- that there are CBD concentrates as well as THC concentrates. The idea is to lay out a road map for the patient, eliminating surprises and offering choices along the way.
One of the choices Hopegrown.org likes to provide its visitors is a huge and ever-expanding network of Providers. These are dispensaries, collectives and organizations who are licensed to provide cannabis medicines through sales or other means of exchange. Using the Provider Finder on the homepage, visitors can search for a medical marijuana dispensary by name or location. If the search is done by location, the results will display closest to furthest away. The paneled listings can be opened for more information and a simple glance will give most patients all they need to know -- pictures of the inside and outside, video tours, prices, reviews, contact information, etc. Along with a small map that provides directions with a single click, each profile provides a peek behind a curtain that has been held in front of the public for too long.
Visiting a Dispensary...
Many fist-time cannabis patients are surprised at how inviting and welcoming a visit to a cannabis dispensary can be. Hopegrown is there for that step of the process as well, providing tons of great info on what to expect when visiting a first brick and mortar collective. Most all dispensaries are staffed with individuals behind the counter (known as budtenders or patient consultants) who have cannabis success stories of their own. They’re happy to share their experiences, answer any questions and offer suggestions based on the doctor’s recommendations. They are usually versed in how cannabis medicines can affect depression and mental health conditions. They can recommend a THC oil for cancer treatment or walk a patient through an amazing scope of CBD medicines for those interested in a non-euphoric effect. Most importantly, they’re there to help and they understand that each person’s needs are unique and an individualized treatment plan is part of the overall goal.
The Importance of Education & Community...
Even after being seen by a physician and in possession of their medicine, Hopegrown doesn’t stop laying a path for the patient. In 2015, Pete & Peter added a Hopegrown Blog to the site and it has been crucial in keeping the public and particularly the patients in the know about advances in cannabis technology, culture and science. Visiting the blog, a reader might find a piece on a CBD vape additive or what CBD is specifically doing to fight cancer tumors. One might find a slew of cannabis recipes — a cannabis drink recipe or a marijuana dessert recipe. Others come to the Hopegrown blog for the latest in MMJ news in California or to have their heartstrings pulled by one of the veteran’s stories in our Sgt. Patient series. Whatever it is, Hopegrown strives to make sure all content is relevant and reliable.
Hopegrown is more than a ".org". Hopegrown is more than site. Hopegrown is a movement. And in order to serve the ever growing number of people turning to cannabis for health solutions, every team member is working diligently to continuously provide quality resources and information so that each patient's cannabis journey is a healthy, safe and successful one. Hopegrown strives to be the talking piece for opening conversations and the proving point for ending them. Hopegrown exists for those looking for more than just a “weed map”, Hopegrown offers a home for those looking for a cannabis community.