CV 101 Dr. Alan Ao

August 16, 2021

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Honey Smith Walls 0:10

Welcome to the Cannaba Verum podcast, the cannabis truth podcast. I speak the language of cannabis freely and uncensored, while educating my audience on the safe use of this live clap therapy, you should know what’s in your cannabis, what’s good and what’s not. It does not come with an FDA stamp of approval yet, using cannabis mindfully, as medication is a different concept in the healthcare philosophy of the past 100 years. There’s a lot to learn and consider cannabis is not dangerous, but it is not harmless, either. this is honey Smith walls, a 21st century cannabis shaman here to explain the language of cannabis in historical, political, and scientific terms, so you can make educated decisions about the medicine you ingest.

Hey, my friends, I want to tell you while I’m sitting here looking at a really cute picture of Dr. Allen Ao. He’s a pharmacist with 19 years of retail experience, and has had a professional career spent in specializing in niche areas of medicine, while practicing in community settings. His calling is to go beyond simply providing exceptional health care but to develop meaningful bonds with his patients and their communities. Since 2018 Dr owl has been working in the cannabis industry, translating his pharmacy operation and clinical expertise with the newly emerging and rapidly developing cannabis industry. He is an advocate for higher education, responsible adult consumption and professional accountability within the industry. As President of plants and prescriptions. I think you can find plants and prescription stock comm online, which is incredible site. He aims to develop a novel industry where cannabis and the modern day healthcare collide. He serves as an active board member of the International Society of cannabis pharmacists, and is involved in several educational training programs, where I hope to get to take some of those at home. He is a proud father and husband. And he’s got two amazing kids and one little fur baby, so without any, any more introduction. Please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful, Dr. Allen Ao.

Dr Ao, do I have you. How are you, just great so nice to hear your voice. How are the kids?

Dr. Alan Ao 3:08

Hey, honey.  a little better, I would say like, 80% of the way but you can kind of hear in my voice I have a little nasal congestion a little scratchy throat, but you know what stays in the family, you know, goes around in the family is this.

Honey Smith Walls 3:21

No, I know I’ve got four grandkids up in Michigan. I can’t go up there without getting every single little germy thing that I have

Dr. Alan Ao 3:30

my youngest just started daycare about a month ago so it’s been just a revolving cycle of on and off cough sickness, runny nose, and etc, etc,

Honey Smith Walls 3:40

You mentioned that he had already been sent home twice and it’s only his, his first month. Yeah, I mean the joys of parenthood. Yeah, ain’t it though. And for the rest of your life, God willing, you’re going to have those joys and so many more. What, what, aside from the joys of parenthood, what you’ve been reading about lately in cannabis that you’d like to talk about with our audience.

Dr. Alan Ao 4:17

Oh my goodness. Dr. Dustin Sulac’s new book just came; The Handbook of Cannabis for Clinicians. And this is probably going to be like the mainstay of what I’m going to be using for resources going forward. I’m really excited. I haven’t, I picked up the first chapter but I haven’t really had the time to commit to, you know going line by line but I this is next on my reading list I’m super excited about it. Healer.com is a fantastic website for beginners for more advanced if it’s a criteria for a lot of different boxes. And so, yeah Doctor Sulak is definitely someone I truly admire in this industry.

Honey Smith Walls 4:56

I can’t tell you how it tickles me to hear you say all of that, because I too am a student of Dustin Sulak I’ve gone through his certification program which was one of the toughest that I’d ever been through and I’d already been through many by the time I found him. And, and I’ve already bought his book in hardback and I’ve got it on, on my iPhone but I’m waiting for it to come out in audio. So I can just, you know, listen to him, he’s such a wonderful teacher and his. There’s something about his spirit that’s just so glorious to be around, you know what I mean.

Dr. Alan Ao 5:40

Yeah and you know what it is though it’s because of Well, coming for as a pharmacist we are sort of thrown into the structure where the pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, and physicians, they all operate on the same kind of pathway the same wavelength and Dr. Xu like really takes like a holistic approach to where the things that we talked about last time the ground up approach of being able to assess a patient and kind of tailor the cannabinoid based medicine around them specifically like individualized therapy, and if that concept is very hard to grasp for a lot of people in the medical field because we’re used to just learning facts and spitting them out on a case, it’s not even a case by case scenario, it’s kind of like a one size fits all model.

Honey Smith Walls 6:29

Yeah, yeah, that’s our, that’s the structure of teaching Western medicine with all of our synthetic protocols, right.

Dr. Alan Ao 6:39

Yeah, exactly.

Honey Smith Walls 6:41

Well, so, until I I kind of want to confess, and I’ve been doing this recently, until I went through Dr Sulak’s  book. I didn’t quite understand that the relationship between the primary care physician to get the diagnosis of whatever the symptoms are to take that to the cannabis specialist, so they can assess what your needs are, and lead you to the right, cannabinoid therapy because it’s so individual, and there are so many compounds. And so I’ve had to I, my mother lies have been widely opened now, and I really really think I know my place and what my Foghorn should be, which is to be patient. Back to the doctor for all of that that I just said. And until I, you know, I’d already gone through his clinical, the healer.com studies and all all of the certification and all of that, and been in study for years, I still didn’t get it. I still didn’t get it until. Do you know who Dr Janessa Wilson King is, he’s down here and OB GYN cannabis specialists, well she’s my friend, she gently tugged on my the ring on my bull nose you know and said, Honey, you need to go through Dustin’s book and read it with a fine tooth comb and then you need to go back and read it a second time. And that’s all she said to me, and then you know it just opened my eyes, let me tell you after chapter three. It really gets into all of the cannabinoid therapies and lalala, he, he gives you a foundational grounding in the history and the politics of it, but guess what I just saw today in that very vein. The NCAA came out with their new white paper called the medicine of cannabis, an overview for medical professionals, and policymakers. It was written June 2021 And I’m about a few pages from the end of that I just got it this morning. And wow wow wow I love, I love marrying your science with our clinicians, and our policymakers, we’ve got to do all of that, and then with the you know the patients, it’s all wrapped up in itself isn’t it

Dr. Alan Ao 9:34

absolutely the cannabis is definitely a multifaceted industry and you know depending on which way you’re looking at it, and which way you’re approaching, and even what your agenda is, the results could be different. And so, I came across that, that handbook or is it’s like a 20 page PDF right, that’s right, yeah. About a month ago and it was great information I shared on LinkedIn and it got like two likes which was kind of unfortunate but

Honey Smith Walls 10:01

it’s funny I just did the same thing a few minutes ago, I’ll expect two more like, are we singing to the choir. Yes, of course, of course, but I tried to lead more people into that choir so because that I think is a very very good choir at LinkedIn and on clubhouse in those science rooms with Cody Peterson and you got there. Yeah, right. And, and all of them. it is, I’m fascinated by your approach and philosophy to pharmacy, and a new relationship with the patient, I mean I knew firsthand relationship, Dr. Les is always talking about her hands on approach and I’ll hold your hand approach with the patient through this whole process while she’s explaining how to, you know how patient can get into cannabis therapy, but I really like what you’re saying, too.

Dr. Alan Ao 11:01

Yeah. So, I mean, is there like a structure to this kind of chat or are we just like open book policy.

Honey Smith Walls 11:09

Well, I’m, I’m just kind of digging in your brain to find out. For instance, can you help me reframe my mind around, adult use. I want to help them realize they’re playing with medicine.

Dr. Alan Ao 11:25

Well, okay so honey, like, I think that there’s a lot of misconception about what qualifies as adult use and what qualifies as medical right because the products are the same, essentially some states do have regulations where the medical side has a different kind of potency or different quality products, and so on and so forth, but at the same time, the majority of adult use populations are using it for medicinal effects, whether it be relaxation anxiety, insomnia, these are all medicinal in nature, right, and that’s where the disconnect is because there’s really no solid line between what is adult use and what is medicinal and in order to take that approach, it ends up boiling down to one thing and that’s intention, like what is the intent of the end user, Like do you want to use this to escape, and really get high, just get sit on the couch and watch TV until 3am, and eat junk food, you know, if that’s your intention, that’s great, but that is not considered medicine to me, the idea of medicine is more of a self care taking an intentional approach to what you’re consuming whether it be cannabis, whether it be dietary supplements health foods, what you put in your body is going to be the definition of health care that’s the whole holistic approach functional medicine type of philosophy where cannabis is acting as a vehicle, a new vehicle and a very kind of bright and shiny vehicle that everyone is set on. And so, the pharmaceutical industry is going to try to claim this as their own, whereas the recreational market has existed since you know the 60s 70s since prohibition begin. And there’s eventually going to be a collision of the worlds, and it’s not who’s going to win out. It’s really about the approach that the end consumer is going to take that that’s my belief at least.

Honey Smith Walls 13:26

Well do you think we can get the end consumer to be considerate of contamination and content and the values of medicine that they’re ingesting for pleasure.

Dr. Alan Ao 13:39

Well, I think in mature markets, they definitely have the opportunity, but for most markets that are newly upcoming, even in adult use situations like Massachusetts and Illinois. When you don’t have an established market and you see a container of cannabis that’s $60 for an eighth versus $45. It’s like, okay, what am I paying the extra $15 for, and eventually that quality will come to light of, you know, how is this process cultivated, or how is this product cultivated how’s it manufactured, what kind of principles go behind it is there any science or literature that supports, not necessarily medical claims but things that they can present to you and that’s going to be that differentiating factor, but right now it’s kind of like, I will buy what I can get, and that is not true healthcare right like imagine go to Whole Foods and having like two choices of things to buy. That that’s essentially where the cannabis market is right now. In some states, you know, in more established states like California, Oregon, they’re they’re a little more established but in order to take the true health care approach you have to be mindful of what you’re consuming and that’s everything based on packaging labeling, what the company stands for Sustainable Growth, you know, sustainable packaging, all these things that that kind of lead the end consumer to be a more, I guess, an educated consumer.

Honey Smith Walls 15:10

And how’s all that shaking out up there in New Jersey where you are.

Dr. Alan Ao 15:14

Oh, we’re still in the stone age here, like, I worked in the medical cannabis field for for about two and a half years starting in 2018 and from the time that they started, we had about 20,000 medical patients and then when I left, we had about 100,000, and it was, yeah it was a huge exponential growth, but it’s because our governor, added anxiety and chronic pain to the list of qualifying conditions which really opened access, which is great. That’s great. Where’d he get his medical degree. Just wondering. Yeah, there were other conditions, though, don’t get me wrong, there was like PTSD seems even dysmenorrhea which is really surprising.

Honey Smith Walls 15:59

Awesome, but awesome. But, again, are these guys just legislating without the knowledge I mean, shouldn’t they leave all of that to you to decide.

Dr. Alan Ao 16:10

I don’t think there should be a gatekeeper in any aspect in all of these decisions, getting it. Like, don’t get me wrong, I understand policies there for a reason is to protect the public. But in this case, like, what the New Jersey cannabis Regulatory Commission is doing is really getting input from all those constituents people that want to speak and one is what they want to see what types of products they want to see. And, you know, collectively, I think that’s a great approach since we can take information from established markets. But I don’t believe that the policymakers have an easy job at all at all by any means.

Honey Smith Walls 16:48

Now you’re absolutely right and I should have some empathy for them because that that’s exactly right, which is why I was so happy to see NCIA making this public white paper on how policy should, you know, be considered what could, what should be considered in their policy making decisions. So with new science for policymakers to look at and, you know, new numbers and the real doodoo so I was happy about that. We, We’ve got a big job to do and, and I’m just really tickled to see how this is kind of shaking out with. As I said, relationships between our pharmacists who can give us a much much much better idea of the mix allergy going on our tummies.

Dr. Alan Ao 17:49

Yeah, and this is kind of one of the pathways like I do want to get more pharmacists involved, whether it be New Jersey or across the country. I’m glad to hear you say that it provides a really unique opportunity because they, there’s this whole new field of medicine and that’s what I think a lot of clinicians don’t really understand the ones that are rooted in just like dispensing and prescribing, as in the traditional pathway, because this is what we know this is what we’re educated on. But this whole thing that’s the system. Yeah, being a part of the system, which is great but then if you want to really think outside the box to say the least, this is a brand new field of medicine and it should be exciting for everyone like So may

Honey Smith Walls 18:33

I ask you, Is it really a great system, the pharmacy system in our western pharmacy system as a whole, I, I happen to know a couple of pharmacists from different states, personally, who long ago told me, you know, the system was just so overwhelming and so rushed into dispensing and data mining and keeping that you know the relationship was lost with patient.

Dr. Alan Ao 19:09

Yeah, and that’s why independent pharmacies are really going to be my go to market to to kind of cater. It’s going to be a while before big box pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, will get on board, you know, the fact that they started carrying CBD products a couple years ago I was really surprised by that because of the still, you know, Green Market where CBD exists, and that one the pharmacists idea that was that box store idea, right, right, exactly. So independent pharmacies generally take more risks as far as locks. So for example, I used to work as an independent pharmacy and we did a lot of non traditional kind of topics so we did prescription compounding where like bioidentical hormones.

Honey Smith Walls 20:01

I got that when I went through menopause, with a compound pharmacy downtown in Melbourne, wonderful,

Dr. Alan Ao 20:07

exactly and even things like homeopathic alternative medicine, a lot of things kind of unseen and off the beaten path, because if, if you’ve tried all the pharmaceuticals like I’ll give you a very real life for example someone, one of my patients got diagnosed with Lyme disease and he was on an arsenal of antibiotics for the better part of I would say three to four years. And, you know, we started taking a look into some of these alternative medicines, and for him specifically what was there to lose in order to try that right like he was dealing with severe gastrointestinal issues. Because of the antibiotics, oh sure all his Flora was gone, what not. Exactly. And so, like what did he lose by trying something else, and lo and behold, like he eventually actually got into medical cannabis, which is kind of funny because I always tell the story like the first time I saw him while I was working in the medical cannabis dispensary. He looked at me like really confused like what are you doing here you were my pharmacist when I was working in the pharmacy. Oh, funny. Yeah, so he was genuinely appreciative of the guidance that I would say, and that that is interested you instantly didn’t he exactly that, that’s the type of relationship that we should be building with our patients. It’s not so much transactional like a dispensary may feel like in order to really get involved with the consumer, and really quality of health care, you want to develop those relationships outside of just that transaction, and that’s where independent pharmacies stick out.

Honey Smith Walls 21:45

Are you aware that there’s a dispensary called MUV that was started by a bunch of pharmacists they’re down here in Melbourne.

Dr. Alan Ao 21:55

Yeah, that’s a I’ve heard of them. Yes.

Honey Smith Walls 21:58

Yeah. And so my neurologist that I had to go to for, you know, other issues. So, I thought he was. I thought he was going to tell me I was going to have to go through surgery after all the law that I went through. Turns out he told me to go to him up because he trusted them because they were a bunch of pharmacists, and, and, and get some you know some higher potent cannabis for my needs and start using, you know, a higher. Long story short, I was just I was delighted that my neurologist was recommending that I go use cannabis instead of go, go, try surgery, which was what I was expecting. And that’s the way, you know, a doctor patient relationship with a little black bag that includes cannabis looks like.

Dr. Alan Ao 22:49

Yeah, and just being open to the idea that takes a huge leap of faith, and I understand after working in the cannabis industry I understand where the hesitations come from a condition like how do I even know what product is in front of me like in New Jersey, I’ll give you, again my real life example, our testing measures were not great like we, the We the Department of Health did not require batch to batch testing a flower. So some of the products that we were dispensing had potency results that were from, you know, two, three harvests ago and no Yeah, it’s a plant so based on environmental conditions cultivation practices, and everything else in between there’s so many variables that can fix this product but what you’re consuming has the same product label as the same product that was a year ago, and like how do you, as a clinician, like how do you build confidence in that or how do you gain confidence in that.

Honey Smith Walls 23:49

It really, I, I’ve recently become enamored with herbology, and I’m wondering why we are flashcard teaching our babies from the time or teaching them a language about, you know the many herbs that can benefit us and how to, more, more inclusionary world medicine, not just Western medicine is what I’m saying. But also, my goodness, the things that that word. Makes me stutter. We’ve got so much to teach, and so much to stand, you know, to stand up and say hey, you need to think about it this way though because if we’re not looking at the way this plant is farmed and a lot of those farmers are making decisions that the chemist should be making I’m thinking, the scientists should be making I’m thinking, you should be making that, that are affecting all of us, in, in ways that we’re only going to be able to collect data on down the road, and figure out what’s happening. But you know they’re freezing 10,000 pound crops, straight from the field, and then taking them to butane Bad’s, And then dumping all of that into, you know the general chemical soup that’s coming out in concentrate vape pens. I’m a little worried that the tail is wagging the dog because Americans specifically are so philosophically trained for convenience, and man that vape pen is convenient. Yeah, absolutely. But they’re just taking way too much product, they’re not really microdosing concentrates.

Dr. Alan Ao 25:47

Yeah and that’s where again the conversation comes like, what is your intention with this like is it based out of habit out of necessity, like because it becomes the equivalent of like smoking cigarettes. Right, right. We all know that the war, the war. Yeah, it’s not even a word at this point it’s like the tobacco industry has fallen out of favor tremendously over the past decade or so because of good measures, things like CVS stopped carrying cigarettes. A few years back, and that was kind of like the tipping point of where it is but then you have cannabis who is consumed the same way as cigarettes who looks like cigarettes, and, you know, a picture of someone smoking cannabis versus smoking a cigarette is exactly the same. It’s identical. So you have a lot of the resounding stigmas of that industry also lingering to mention that we really want to move away from that as a healthcare professional, it is not my best interest to to say combustion is the first line therapy for any of my patients, you know.

Honey Smith Walls 26:55

Right. I’ve been talking to some other friends up in Pennsylvania, in your neck of the woods, who are a media company, Most Cannabis Consulting Group up there, and you know I worry a little bit about their message, but going through their website and what they’re trying to do. They’re in the media business for cannabis, and it’s so limited. And there’s, you know, the message, the message the message. It’s always, it’s got to come straight from science. What is your most important message to medical professionals?

Dr. Alan Ao 27:47

to have them realize that currently consumerism is driving this industry full force and it’s pushing the industry forward so think about like, think about like a vehicle right as a, as an engineer or as a scientist, you want to make sure that it works from the ground up from the tires to the engine to the chassis, you know, how we as scientists operate. But meanwhile, we have the consumerism industry you know traditional CPG markets, traditional advertising traditional marketers that are literally pushing this vehicle with their hands, like they don’t care that how it operates, they just want it moving, and it’s comes down to dollar signs and, you know, it’s, I just always mixed approach in this bag because I’m all about providing access to people, because for someone that has never tried it, that barrier to trying it is all these regulations do you want to really pay $200 to sit down with a physician to get a medical card that costs another $100 to sit in a dispensary that has not everything that you need that’s not staffed with a pharmacist that’ll give you great advice, right, like those are the decisions that regular consumers have to make in order to even obtain cannabis. But meanwhile, you know like all of these different fancy Instagrams are coming up social media sites are branding their products as like a lifestyle almost and to the clinicians, they just have to really be conscious about that that even though people have the right intention is presented in a way that’s marketed to the masses not based on science and clinical data, necessarily. I think that’s my resounding message for clinicians

Honey Smith Walls 29:43

and will lead us back to Dustin’s book. The Handbook of cannabis for clinicians, yeah. Yeah, practices and principles and practice is what the other title is, what would you say to our public what is the most important thing that you want the public to know is patience, you know, trying to use medicinal cannabis with mindfulness,

Dr. Alan Ao 30:13

just really that really take a scientific approach and understanding of what you’re consuming like really be diligent about looking at packaging finding out what a company represents, and if they’re just trying to sell you a product or not like that that’s the, that’s the difference between like a multi level marketing kind of aroma therapy company versus a true pharmaceutical backed clinical data driven cannabis company you know like they just be really intentful with what you’re purchasing. And of course there’s always a factor but don’t always go for the least expensive product in your dispensary.

Honey Smith Walls 30:55

Right, right. I cannot thank you enough for being so clear to our audience, and I would love to call and check in with you again sometime and talk about the acids, maybe, and the effect that Cannabigerol is having you know all of the new discovery with that, CBG and more Chitty chat that you might find interesting.

Dr. Alan Ao 31:25

I actually have a project that I’m working on with a pharmacist from Ohio that’s about to lunch in Ohio called CannaData, and think of like a database of products of information about, you know, each manufacturer each dispensary, all, all localized into one location, and it’s gonna be great. It’s based on …. so it’s a group of me and three other pharmacists, and we are kind of building this platform for dispensaries to access in order to better guide patients because as a dispensary worker you’re limited to the information that is presented to you from these wholesaler processors. And then, if your dispensary is not providing training which most of them don’t provide standardized training, you’re really lost trying to help the patients. So we’re building this platform and it’s about to rollout in Ohio and I would love to tell you more about it as soon as it gets rolling.

Honey Smith Walls 32:26

Fantastic. I am thrilled to hear this news. All this organization, all the data that we need to collect you’re doing it. Dr. Allen Ao, I am just so tickled and grateful to spend a little time with you and to hear your message, I can’t wait to chat with you again. Thanks so much. My pleasure and take care of those kids.

Dr. Alan Ao 32:48

All right, will do. Bye bye.

Honey Smith Walls 33:02

You’ve been listening to another Cannaba Verum podcast with 21st century cannabis shaman honey Smith walls, about the importance of using safe hemp and marijuana products. The process of taking your records with your symptoms and diagnosis to a cannabis specialist can lead you to the correct cannabinoid therapy for your best results. Otherwise, it just your own guinea pig looking for answers without any foundational knowledge or ability to determine the best choices, Unless otherwise proven by a reputable third party lab test. Please be advised that all street weed is contaminated. It may do grave harm to a patient with a delicate immune system. I challenge you to check the veracity of my statements in each episode by checking the medical citations posted on my blog. The Cannaba verum.com website. that’s    C A N N A B A V E R U M.com

Handbook for Clinicians – Principles and Practice – https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393714180

  1. microdosing  https://healer.com/cbd-cannabis-dosage-guide-project-cbd-interview-with-dr-sulak/
  2. concentrates https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29307505/

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