As the cannabis market continues to thrive, more states are legalizing and or considering legalizing the use of cannabis as a recreational substance. Most recently, Arizona saw a surge of interest after 70 existing dispensaries got approval to start selling cannabis recreationally. The reason behind this is clear. The cannabis industry can be an incredible revenue source for a state, not to mention a job creator. A recent report found that there are now over 315,000 jobs in the United States within the cannabis industry.
One of these jobs is held by Dr. Anand Dugar, who began his medical career in 2000 at Jefferson Medical College and practiced medicine as a board-certified anesthesiologist from 2008 until 2017. In 2017, Dr. Dugar opened the first Green Health Docs clinic in Frederick, Maryland and has since grown Green Health Docs in 15 states with telemedicine and/or in-person clinic visits. Green Health Docs has a mission is to empower patients to take control of their health with natural treatments, like medical cannabis and CBD.
As a result, Dr. Dugar has found himself at the forefront of the intersection between technology, cannabis, and medicine. To learn more, I spoke to Dr. Dugar about his entrepreneurial journey and how the industry has changed as a result of 2020’s pandemic.
1. Why did you start Green Health Docs?
“I started Green Health Docs out of frustration. I was practicing as an anesthesiologist / pain medicine physician and realized that I was part of the problem. I was prescribing opiates to patients with chronic pain because I thought that was the best option available for them.
Then, one of my patients gave me a great gift. He told me that he no longer used pain pills anymore because medical cannabis gave him all the pain relief he needed and he recommended I give that to patients instead of opiates. That moment in 2016 woke me up and I began researching medical cannabis so that I could see if this was a viable alternative for my patients.”
2. What does Green Health Docs do?
“In a nutshell, Green Health Docs makes getting your medical cannabis card easy. We have compassionate doctors and nurse practitioners who will speak with you, discuss your medical conditions, and then approve you for a medical cannabis card in your state. Once you are approved by a Green Health Docs marijuana doctor, you can purchase cannabis directly from state dispensaries. Most medical conditions can qualify so as long as you have a legitimate medical condition, we can usually get you approved.”
3. Did 2020 have an impact on your operations?
“2020 was a very interesting year for us at Green Health Docs. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, we realized that our in-person clinic volume would drastically decrease so we made a rapid pivot to telemedicine. We expanded our telemedicine offering to 15 states and also continued to see patients in our physical clinics in MD, MO, UT and WV with proper social distancing guidelines in place. This change was great for our mission because we are able to help 3x as many people now as we did pre-pandemic.”
4. How does telemedicine work for getting a medical marijuana card?
“Patients have the option to see a marijuana doctor via telemedicine in most states. A telemedicine visit with a Green Health Docs marijuana doctor is a face-to-face video chat done on your phone or computer. After the patient schedules an appointment, we send them a link to click and that link connects directly to the doctor via video. Then, the doctor and patient can both see and speak to each other. Most patients prefer the convenience of telemedicine and are able to get their marijuana card from the comfort of their own home.”
5. Are medical marijuana patients allowed to use telemedicine in all states because of COVID?
“The vast majority of states are now allowing telemedicine visits for patients who want to get a medical marijuana card but there are some exceptions. In Utah, for example, patients MUST see a provider in-person for the first visit but all future visits can be done via telemedicine. In West Virginia, patients are allowed to temporarily use telemedicine to see a marijuana doctor but in the near future, the West Virginia Dept of Health and Human Services will require the first visit to also be in-person, like Utah.”
6. What are you most excited about for Green Health Docs in 2021?
“I am most proud of our management team and very excited for the opportunities we have ahead of us in 2021. Our current call center managers and national operations managers have been with me for years and grew as the company grew. We now have a strong technology base and a great management team as we continue to expand into more states with our telemedicine and in-person clinic offerings. I would not be surprised if we double our patient volume this year and further fulfill our mission to help as many people get access to this life-saving medication.”
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