Dr. Rachel Knox is far from your average physician.
She is part of a family of physicians who are all educated in various fields of medicine, and who all share at least one common trait – they have trained themselves regarding the endocannabinoid system, and their expertise allows them to make recommendations for medical cannabis patients.
The First Steps
It all started with her mother, Dr. Janice Knox.
“In 2013, while my sister and I were in residency, my mother was approached to start giving medical marijuana recommendations – and she described the experience as very revealing,” Rachel says.
It was watching her mother’s reaction to assisting medical cannabis patients that inspired her and her sister, Dr. Jessica Knox, to get more involved in the cannabis industry.
“This was at a time when doctors and colleagues might get thrown into rehab for using cannabis and get slapped with a fine. But my mother would talk to me and my sister about the kinds of patients she was seeing,” Rachel explains.
“A lot of people thought cannabis users were just stoners, but she saw people in wheelchairs, people who were disabled.”
Learning About the Endocannabinoid System
Eventually she and her sister were inspired to follow in their mother’s footsteps and began learning more about cannabis as medicine, and how to treat patients using the science of the endocannabinoid system.
“We both knew that we wouldn’t be practicing ‘conventional medicine.’ Both of us would be happier pursuing our own functional medicine, alternative care options, focusing on the root cause of disease.”
What seemed like a small step into a semi-unknown field quickly snowballed into a full-blown career move. “We wanted to push the envelope and do something a little different with our education,” Rachel notes.
All in the Family
Each member of the Knox family has their own specialization – Rachel studied family medicine, while her sister Jessica studied preventative care. Their mother, Dr. Janice Knox, worked as an anesthesiologist for 30 years, and their father, Dr. David Knox, works in the local emergency department. Even their brother, although not a physician, works as a lawyer in Oakland and often sees cannabis business clients on the job.
“We're just doctors who can write authorizations, but we needed to be able to offer them more,” she insists.
“We felt obligated as medical doctors, we felt we needed to drive that service. We’re poring through this exciting research. It’s fascinating! And we’re supposed to be fascinated so we can be better for our patients.”
Together with her mother, father, and sister, the Knox family began developing a clinical model to treat medical cannabis patients and decided to create the American Cannabinoid Clinics, dedicated to promoting education and the science behind the endocannabinoid system.
“It happened to all of us collectively. These patients had questions – what products do I use, and how do I use them,” Rachel says, explaining the passion behind their clinical model.
“We fell in love with the science of the endocannabinoid system to promote healing.”
One of the more interesting effects has been seeing her father’s journey. “He works in the emergency department and he wants to work straight on through until retirement,” she remarks.
“In Oregon, there is an increasing number of patients who overdo their cannabis therapy and end up going to the emergency room. This is what a lot of cannabis opponents use as an argument against legalization, but really, this just highlights the need for education,” she says.
“It’s good that my dad can be there when people overdo it, or when pain patients come in. He’s able to answer those questions and can use that knowledge to help these patients.”
The Expansion of the American Cannabinoid Clinics
The journey of the Knox family began in California, but they are licensed to practice medicine in California, Oregon, and Washington, and their influence continues to expand.
When asked how she feels about the various programs from state to state, Rachel pauses to reflect on the similarities and differences.
“These programs are evolving. Legalizing cannabis before the medical institution was on board has been very challenging for patients and providers, and for folks who are running these programs. The rules keep changing, which can be very frustrating for patients,” she considers. “We always do our best to stay on top of rules and regulations as they change.”
The difference between programs focused on medical patients, as opposed to the adult-use system largely driven by tax revenue, has created a challenge. “Tax revenue is a big deal. How do you merge or keep separate two thriving programs? And it does affect patients – what we call therapeutic grade cannabis, the concentration, the product itself – all of that can be a challenge.”
As a part of the American Cannabinoid Clinics, she and her family are in a unique position, practicing medicine in multiple states with varying medical and adult-use cannabis programs.
“They’re all in flux. I will say, I was disappointed in how Washington rolled out their adult-use program with respect to their medical program,” Rachel remarks. “Other than being able to possess more cannabis, and grow your own, what else are these rules doing for the patients?”
All of these entities can improve, and Oregon is very committed to improving on a regulatory and legislative level, she says. “I’m very interested to see what comes out of Oregon. It seems like Oregon wants to be at the forefront of cannabis research.”
The Future of the CannaMDs
One of the biggest and most exciting prospects for the Knox family is the prospect of treating out-of-state clients, who travel far and wide to visit the American Cannabinoid Clinic.
“We recently started working with a canna-friendly hotel, the Jupiter in Portland. We had clients coming from out of state who had nowhere to stay, and now we can put up our patients in the hotel for discounted prices.”
The future of the American Cannabinoid Clinics will also be based almost entirely out of Oregon soon enough.
“We are creating a new clinical model, and opening a new clinic in Portland, and it will be our flagship operation. We are completely remodeling, both literally and figuratively, with an entirely new retail model.”
Keep an eye out for the American Cannabinoid Clinic, coming soon to Portland.
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