As the states approve recreational use of cannabis one by one it remains a really sad state of affairs for those that need it for legitimate medical reasons. In California it generally looks easier today for folks to buy this stuff illegally than for those that have a legitimate health reason and that is just wrong in so many ways. One of the interesting companies that is flipping this ugly situation on its head is HelloMD a service that was originally designed to hook people up with medical specialists and has since shifted to making it far easier for patents to safely purchase cannabis for their legitimate medical reasons.
Let me walk you through it.
The Medical Marijuana Problem
For some reason this, like the mess at the Veteran’s Administration, tends to get me really angry. I’m really not sure why because I’m not a veteran nor am I a medical marijuana user but many folks are both and I think we should respect and take care of these folks who put their lives on the line for us far better than we actually do.
Ironically I now live in a state that legalized marijuana (though retail sales haven’t started yet) but in California they have yet to approve legalization and buying this stuff legally is a pain. First you have to get a ton of documentation that you are allowed to purchase it including find a doctor that both knows what they are doing and will do it (most have no idea what to do with a request like this). Then you have to convert US dollars to some digital currency in order to use a credit card or just pay cash, then you have to go to a part of town where you wouldn’t carry either marijuana or cash in order to buy the stuff risking getting mugged or shot coming or going (or maybe even while there) because cities don’t want the dispensaries in good neighborhoods.
A lot of the people that need this stuff are dying of cancer and instead of making their pain relief easy we, as a society, seem to be making the last few days of their lives so bad they might actually look forward to death. That just seems mean spirited.
HelloMD is a medical mobile application that runs on you Android or iOS device and turns a nasty and risky process into a relatively easy and safe one. First it connects you to a doctor who can diagnose and give you a permit to buy marijuana online (video call), then it digitally supplies the documents you need for the purchase and connects you either to a store—or better yet, a delivery service like LA’s Speed Weed—and then it provides guidance on how to use the cannabis optimally. This service is compliant with regulations like HIPAA—assuring your privacy and safety—and the doctors they use are heavily vetted so the cannabis isn’t misused and so that it doesn’t increase the risks the patent is already taking with their other medications.
Currently this service is California-only but its plan is to roll out to the 23 States that have medical marijuana on the books and other countries like Canada and Australia which are also progressive in this regard (suggesting they’ll be able to help even when you travel).
Currently HelloMD helps 200 to 300 patents weekly which is a drop in the bucket in a market that is estimated to be $40B to $60B with 40 million people in it. In California alone there are 700,000 people who are approved to legally buy marijuana for medical reasons.
One final observation was that a lot of folks that are buying this now for medical reasons are buying it in food, balms you rub on, or drops you put in your eyes or food and thus avoid some of the medical problems (for the user and those that would otherwise be passively breathing the smoke) and a lot of the stigma. We don’t typically smoke our other medications after all.
Wrapping Up: Tech To The Rescue
HelloMD is just another great example of technology being used to make the lives of a group of folks that are needlessly suffering excessively better. That is often the best use of technology, not to entertain, but to make the lives of folks who are suffering better. That’s the noble part of tech we just don’t see often enough and I thought it would be interesting to talk about it this week.