During a time when medical support is more important than ever, we had the privilege of (virtually) sitting down with Katherine Golden and Jennifer Axcell, founders of Leaf411. Leaf411 is the first FREE cannabis nurse hotline, providing the necessary support and advice that dispensaries cannot provide. Check it out!
Katherine: I’m Katherine Golden, CEO, co-founder of Leaf411 and I have been a registered nurse for 22 years.
Jennifer: My name is Jennifer Axcell. I am COO and also co-founder of Leaf411. We are a charitable nonprofit organization that operates the country’s first free cannabis nurse hotline available to the public to answer health related cannabis questions.
HOW WAS LEAF411 FOUNDED?
Jennifer: I came into the cannabis industry after a really terrible car accident 10 years ago that had me dependent on a lot of pharmaceuticals for many years and my quality of life didn’t get better. And when I started looking for information and getting support from the medical professionals I had at the time to use legal cannabis to get off those medications, I was turned away because they didn’t know anything. And so that sent me on this path to educating myself on how to do this and that was really frustrating.
Katherine: We saw there was this missing component. I knew about medical cannabis being a cannabis nurse. Jennifer knew it by being a patient, but what about all the other families out there that want to explore cannabis medicine that didn’t have someone like us to come to? How do they get information? And that’s where the idea was born and it evolved into making sure that it was accessible, being a hotline and free.
HOW DOES LEAF411 WORK?
Katherine: The way Leaf411 operates is that we have a team of registered nurses that take shifts on our call line and we operate remotely and we can be in our own homes and we take calls from all across the country. All we see is a phone number of the caller come through. We have no identifying information, it’s completely anonymous and we take calls Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM mountain standard time.
Some people might not be aware that bud tenders are not allowed to legally answer your medical questions, so that is what’s wonderful about our service and partnering with organizations like Lightshade is that we, being licensed medical professionals, can answer those questions for you. We can give you some guidance prior to you entering the dispensary, so it’ll make your interaction very quick. You don’t have to stand there wondering which product would best suit my needs for my conditions. We can arm you with all that information prior to going into a dispensary.
WHO IS LEAF411 FOR?
Katherine: Leaf411 really is created for everyone and we mean everyone, whether you are a new person to even thinking about taking cannabis to an experienced user to a healthcare professional or anyone in that industry calling us, like social workers who come against their own patients that have these wonderful questions about the plant, but they can’t answer them. It’s not their specialty. So who do they go to? So we get calls from every spectrum. We’ve even had people calling us about grow questions as well.
HOW CAN I ACCESS LEAF411?
Jennifer: After all, we are a free cannabis nurse hotline, so we encourage everybody to give us a call, first and foremost. Our number being 1-844-LEAF-411. That’s 844-532-3411. Another great way to, especially for millennials, people who don’t like to talk on the phone like myself, we do have the robust chat feature on our website that also has translation services in it. It doesn’t matter where you are calling from or what language you prefer to get this information in, we do have that available to you. That is on our website, which is Leaf411.org. We’ve built the website to be a really robust resource for consumers and it’s also a great place to start. We’ve got information on there on our resource pages about our vetted members, so if you’re looking for state compliant dispensary’s and products to purchase, this is a great place to start getting an idea of who’s doing it right out there because we have done our due diligence on your behalf to vet these companies long before they ever get listed on tour website.
We also have a blog with information on there that our nurses are creating for you guys and most importantly is the Leaf Library, which is a fantastic resource that our nurses created that is a searchable database where consumers can easily find the information, the science behind what our nurses are telling them, so you don’t just have to take our word for it. Go onto our Leaf Library. You can type in psoriasis and it’s going to pull up clinical research done on cannabis and psoriasis. It’s a really user friendly way to see the information for yourself. And then, obviously, being… this is the 21st century we are on social media, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
WHAT ARE THE NURSE QUALIFICATIONS?
Katherine: Leaf411 nurses are all cannabis trained. They have been through rigorous training through TMCI, which is The Medical Cannabis Institute. We were all trained by Radical Health, which is a wonderful cannabis therapeutic for medical professional platform that was designed by Eloise Theisen, who works out of Walnut Creek, California, and is also the incoming president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association, which we all are members of as well. What that does is provide us a scope in standard of practice that we all follow as nurses. We’re registered nurses through the state of Colorado. We’re compact nurses, which means that we can legally practice in 34 states total, but we can take questions from all areas of nursing and be able to guide to the appropriate resource.
DOES LEAF411 WORK WITH MEDICAL INSTITUTIONS?
Katherine: The wonderful thing about Leaf411 now and the reputation that we’re building as this very reputable, relevant nurse organization is that academic institutions, hospital institutions, private practices, we’re ready to have the discussion about cannabis or either their patients or their communities are now welcoming us in because of that validity of what we provide, which is this free resource to the public and guide them on safe use. It’s been really wonderful that we have now partnered with different physicians and we go together as a team to provide a cannabis 101 to their community and then Leaf411 as that partnership, that back up to them saying, “Now that you’ve learned about cannabis in your community has, we can be the place that they come for their additional questions and continue that journey and continue that guidance for them.”
HOW IS LEAF411 INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY?
Katherine: Leaf411 has a very large outreach in the community. We have worked very hard to reach out to different community groups, our veterans groups, our senior groups. We’ve worked with LGBTQ, we’ve worked with trauma and resilience, cancer societies. We want to make sure that we touch every group, even anyone using it just for recreational purposes. We want to make sure that we are there to answer any questions. Young demographic groups to senior demographic groups in all in between, we want to make sure that we touch all those communities.
HOW CAN I CONTRIBUTE TO LEAF411?
Katherine: What you can contribute to Leaf411 would honestly be telling everyone, telling your friends, telling your neighbors, telling your family when they come to you with questions. Maybe they know that you use and they’re asking you are medical questions. Send them to us. Let that responsibility go on to us and we can take it from there. We would love to answer their questions. Really a big contribution would be telling everybody about us, whether it’s just reposting something from our social media to just screaming from the rooftops. We want everybody to know that this free service exists for everyone.
Jennifer: Leaf411 is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit. Our funding model relies heavily on our cannabis industry members to financially support us and keep our calls free, but there are opportunities for you, the general public to give back and participate with tax deductible donations that can be done both via Facebook and also our website, there’s PayPal, there’s old school, if you want to mail a check, do any kind of donation, anything like that, that you would do with a traditional nonprofit, that’s us. We would love to talk to you and you can get more information on our website.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF LEAF411?
Katherine: The future of Leaf411 is limitless. We have expansion plans already in the works. We have new programs that we’re starting, accessibility. We are starting programs to really address different communities and we are working with wonderful companies, like Lightshade, on their corporate social responsibility to make sure that we are all a family in this and we’re a part of this.
Jennifer: We are already taking calls from around the country and even calls outside of the country, because this resource is so necessary. And it’s important to us for 2020 that we continue our outreach into the rest of the country so that every state has everything that we provide Colorado in their state as well. And all of the rules and regulations are different, but plant medicine is the same. We encourage people, if you know they’re here in Colorado, spread the word. If they’re somewhere else in state, your grandma lives in New York, we’d love to talk to her too, and we’re still able to do that. But definitely for 2020 we are doing a lot more to bring Leaf411 formally into the rest of the country.
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