To celebrate groundbreaking and changemaking women, we are launching our #HereForHer campaign through May—highlighting the amazing contributions women have made to science and those who are socially impacting communities today.
Who are we #HereFor this week? Dr. Rachel Knox, MD, MBA, a member of the Sermo Medical Advisory Board and an advocate for cannabinoid medicine and health equity. Dr. Rachel Knox is a cannabinoid medicine specialist and endocannabinologist with a background in family, integrative, and functional medicine. With her family she founded Doctors Knox, Inc., American Cannabinoid Clinics, and Pivital Edu.
Outside of clinical care and education, Dr. Rachel Knox is a policy and regulatory consultant on cannabis and psychedelic health equity. She is the creator, co-founder, and president of the Cannabis Health Equity Movement™ (CHEM), and chair of the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) and CHEM Allyance. She serves her home state as the immediate past chair of the Oregon Cannabis Commission, is a member of Portland’s Cannabis Policy Oversight Team, and chairs the Equity Subcommittee of the Oregon Psilocybin Advisory Board. She also advises several national boards including Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC), Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR), Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (CFCR), and US Cannabis Council (USCC).
We sat down with Dr. Rachel Knox to get her take on cannabinoid medicine, hear more about her organization, ACHEM, as well as learn about some of her hobbies.
But Before We Dive In… A Little Background on Cannabis Medicine
Medicinal cannabis, or medical marijuana, has evolved from a controversial, misunderstood therapy, to a mainstream treatment option for a growing list of health challenges. Since the 1990s, 37 states—and Washington DC—have legalized medicinal cannabis to help reduce pain, nausea and inflammation, decrease anxiety, and aid sleep, among other symptoms.
Advances in isolating different chemical compounds—mainly CBD and CBN—have opened the door to more patients looking to benefit from cannabis therapy, without experiencing the psychoactive effects of THC.
As more states legalize marijuana for medical purposes, interest in cannabis therapies has been growing among healthcare professionals. In a recent poll of 245 global Sermo physicians, 70% responded that they are interested in learning more about the power of cannabis medicine.
Despite this growing adoption, some in the medical field continue to question its efficacy, requesting more research and data before widely prescribing treatment. In the same Sermo poll, only 22% of doctors said they have experience prescribing cannabis to patients.
Dr. Rachel Knox Q&A:
Are there any non-profits or causes you dedicate some of your free time to or that are near and dear to your heart? Why is this cause meaningful to you?
Yes, I am actually the creator and co-founder of ACHEM—the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine—a nonprofit professional medical association for healers and healthcare professionals of color who champion the advancement of cannabis competency and health equity. Please check out our website at achemed.org where you can learn more about our organization’s mission.
This organization is meaningful for two reasons: first, it aims to increase the ranks of providers of color who are competent in cannabinology, endocannabinology, and cannabinoid medicine. Why this is critical is an issue of racial, ethnic, and cultural concordance. We know that patients do best when cared for by providers who look like them or share a common identity, and this phenomenon extends into matters of access, care, and medical management related to the medical use of cannabis as well.
The second reason is health equity. ACHEM and the larger Cannabis Health Equity Movement (CHEM)™ share the most comprehensive and accurate definition of health equity to date and are the best at articulating the role cannabis criminalization has played in directly divesting communities of color of their assuredness of access to full health and wellbeing—one of the most insidious and systemic root causes of health disparity. It is also imperative that the people most harmed by the War on Drugs be amongst the first to benefit from its medical use (and lead the charge for reform), and ACHEM is committed to ensuring that populations of color are not left behind.
Besides spending time with family and friends, what hobbies or favorite pastimes do you indulge in?
I look forward to the occasional international travels with my family, as we love exposing ourselves to diverse cultural experiences, but given all the hats I wear I really cherish my downtime these days.
What is one thing about you your patients could never guess (e.g., you are an expert at karaoke or can remember every president in order)?
I think my patients could never guess that I can still do a front walkover.
PIVITAL EDU offers the first and only interactive education program in cannabis, cannabinoid medicine, and endocannabinology developed by cannabis clinicians. PIVITAL EDU students can expect a world-class education from global leaders in cannabis science and clinical care that will expand their knowledge about cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Visit pivitaledu.com to learn more.
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- Brittanica ProCon, 2022. (https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/legal-medical-marijuana-states-and-dc/)
- Sermo Poll, 2021. n=245