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LYNN — Barbara Van Hoosen, who gave herself the nickname “cannamom”, spends her days as a senior wellness consultant at Revolutionary Clinics, advising people of the health benefits of medical cannabis use.
Van Hoosen, of Lynn, is a cannabis user herself, turning to the drug to ease her chronic back pain. She said that she was originally prescribed opioids, which helped the pain but made her groggy, tired and lazy. After consulting with her husband, she stepped out of her comfort zone and tried medical cannabis, saying that it changed her life for the better.
“I thought at first, no I can’t do that I’m a mother and a rule-follower,” she said. “It has really changed my life in a positive way, I can really reduce my pain and still stay very functional. I don’t have to be high in order to get a great benefit from cannabis.”
Van Hoosen said that there is a negative connotation around the medical use of marijuana, stating that she tried to keep her use a secret for over two years.
“Once I saw how many patients really had life-changing, positive experiences with cannabis, and I knew that my own story was so positive, I came out as a patient,” she said.
As a senior wellness consultant, she tries to normalize the medical use of cannabis, highlighting the various benefits and teaching people how to accurately use products.
She began as a receptionist at Revolutionary Clinic and witnessed how many people rely on and appreciate medical cannabis use. This enticed her to continue her studies on this aspect, eventually landing her as one of the only wellness consultants in the medical cannabis industry in Massachusetts. Her role is to guide new and existing patients through their cannabis use, whether it is suggesting types of edibles, CBD oils and products, or advising patients on customized amounts and frequency of usage.
Since the pandemic, Van Hoosen said that she has witnessed more people turn to medical cannabis. When medical cannabis businesses were considered essential, she said they found that many more people that were originally buying recreationally, eventually acquired a medical card.
“What we really found within people buying in the adult market was that people were really buying for medical reasons: insomnia, anxiety and stress,” she said. “They were amazed at how many more options were available to medical patients and wanted guidance on this.”
Receiving a medical card is a two-step process including being certified by a clinician, followed by registering with the state. Van Hoosen acts as a lifeline to these people, whether they are new to medical cannabis use or not.
“Some people would tell me that they’ve had anxiety or insomnia and have been able to keep it in check, but the pandemic has just exacerbated everything and now they need help,” she explained. She has given guidance to over 300 people since the pandemic through her virtual consultation program.
The word “marijuana” carries a stigma, some believing that it is a gateway to other, more serious drugs. Van Hoosen said that in her experience, she has noticed that cannabis has actually acted as an exit drug to patients struggling with addiction issues.
She emphasized that medical cannabis doesn’t make you unproductive and dysfunctional if it is used correctly, which is what she is there to teach.
“I’ve seen so many success stories,” she said. “The opioids didn’t allow me to be functional. Cannabis has made me, and so many of my patient’s, a better mother, partner, human and employee in the world.”
She wants people to know that they should not be ashamed of using cannabis. She works hard trying to help patients fight through the stigma, while remaining mindful and cautious of people’s boundaries and concerns.
Van Hoosen wants to use her story to be a positive role model, knowing that there will always be people out there that will judge and think differently.
“I am a normal, typical mom, who is a pretty darn good mom. I’m not perfect, but I am way better with cannabis in my life than I was without,” she said. “My pain is gone and I am happier and more energized.”
She noted that she usually only uses CBD at night, so she can sleep well and not be woken up by her pain.
Van Hoosen has a background in social psychology and is open to speaking with people through email, a phone call or video chat, whichever is more comfortable. Some people favor a detailed conversation, figuring out what would work best for them while others prefer quick suggestions and tips.
Her patient’s positive feedback and appreciation for her role has increased the appeal, so Revolutionary Clinic has hired another wellness consultant to satisfy the patient’s questions, concerns and needs.
More information can also be found on the website at https://www.revolutionaryclinics.org/resources/become-a-patient/.
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Barbara Van Hoosen is a senior wellness consultant who advises people on medical cannabis use.
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