With some form of cannabis legal in all but five U.S. states, American attitudes—and consumption—are rapidly changing. After years of demonization, cannabis is moving fast into the mainstream.

If you’re a health, life or wellness coach, at least half of your clients could be considering cannabis. More than one in seven are probably already consuming it for medical and/or recreational purposes.  Few, though, are likely to have much understanding of the different types of cannabis available to them, the forms they can come in, their effects on health, mood and behavior, ways to consume it, and how they can successfully incorporate cannabis into a healthy lifestyle.  

Providing counsel on cannabis use is an opportunity to better serve your clients and grow your business.  In states where cannabis is legal, many health coaches have already added cannabis advice to their practices; some have gone so far as to position themselves as “cannabis coaches”.

At Home Grow Community, we believe responsible cannabis use can be a positive factor in physical health and mental well-being.  Given the ever-expanding volume of information on the subject, figuring out how to consume cannabis appropriately can be a challenge for those who are new or returning to cannabis—one that professional coaches are uniquely positioned to help solve.  We encourage coaches to get involved and help clients who are interested in cannabis to incorporate it into their personal health & wellness programs.

Cannabis is moving into the mainstream

83% of Americans want to legalize medical marijuana and 49% favor legalizing recreational use.  More than half now think consumption is socially acceptable, and almost one in four believe that weed is less risky than alcohol. 55 million U.S. adults consumed cannabis last year—half of them parents. 35 million consume it on a regular basis.  

Digital and traditional media have taken up cannabis; open any website or social group, read a newspaper or magazine, or watch cable TV, and you’re likely to find something on cannabis.  “Medical marijuana” produces 234,000,000 results on Google. And then there is all the talk about CBD (cannabidiol)—the extract of hemp and cannabis that may prove as universally beneficial as aspirin.

Many health and wellness benefits

While there’s still limited scientific research on cannabis, consumers report a myriad of potentially positive benefits for physical health and mental well-being. CBD oil is the most promising, with a number of studies reported in the <New York Times Magazine> supporting its positive impact on a surprisingly wide range of conditions.

These applications have been proven effective, or have indications of positive physical/mental impact:

  • Pain relief. Perhaps the most common use for CBD is pain relief.  While widely accepted, there has, until recently, been little scientific proof. Studies by researchers at Montreal’s McGill University, and by a team in the European Journal of Pain, have found promising evidence that regular dosing with CBD reduce chronic pain.
  • Chemotherapy. CBD is commonly used to treat the symptoms of chemotherapy: nausea, loss of appetite and insomnia.  While there is widespread anecdotal evidence of CBD’s efficacy, small recent trials have shown that there may be scientific evidence to back this up.
  • Anxiety. A review published in Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may be effective in reducing a number of anxiety disorders, such as PTSD, OCD and Social Anxiety.
  • Epilepsy. After extensive clinical trial, the FDA approved CBD in the treatment of two rare forms of epilepsy.  Research suggests CBD may be effective in treating other forms of epilepsy.
  • Type 1 Diabetes. Research published in 2016 in Clinical Hemorheology and Microcirculation found CBD may ease inflammation of the pancreas, a primary cause of diabetes.
  • Alzheimer’s. research in the Journal of Alzheimer’s found that CBD prevented development of social recognition deficit, a common symptom of Alzheimer’s.
  • Quitting smoking. A study published in Addictive Behaviors found that users of inhalers with CBD consumed fewer cigarettes, and had no further cravings for nicotine.
  • Opioid addiction. A review in Neurotherapeutics found that CBD may be a promising treatment for opioid addiction. Studies in Michigan and Israel found that cannabis use reduced opioid use, and in some cases led to discontinuance of opioid use.
  • Cancer. A review in the British Journal of Pharmacology found evidence that CBD helped to significantly prevent the spread of cancer.

Lack of knowledge is an opportunity for coaches

Cannabis is a multi-faceted, organic product. It can enhance quality of life and sense of well-being, and it can be abused. It can cure some diseases and reduce the symptoms of others.  It can energize and it can relax. It can make you calm and make you paranoid. It can cause short-term memory loss, and it can treat Alzheimer’s. It can be smoked, vaped, applied topically and ingested. It includes molecules like THC that get you high, and those, like CBD, that don’t. There are hundreds of compounds in cannabis that affect flavor and taste and work with different systems and pathways in your body.  It comes in a dizzying array of strains, with names like “Lemon Haze” and Cheese.”

Given this complexity, and the lack of information sources to help interested consumers gain the knowledge they’d need to make informed decisions, there’s an opportunity for health, wellness and life coaches to step in and become experts in cannabis, providing the kind of personalized counselling that will help clients decide if cannabis is right for them, and if so, what types to use, and how to incorporate cannabis into a personalized program for healthy living.

Cannabis Coaching Certification

While no official body is offering certification, a number of organizations have created on-line courses in cannabis and cannabis coaching; enrollment in these programs depends on training cycles and availability:

Natural Wellness Academy: Online Comprehensive CBD/Cannabis Certification Program  

CBD Training Academy: Certified CBD Coach 

Holistic Cannabis Academy: Paths to Cannabis Competency 

Cannabis Coaching Institute 

Sources

The Washington Post:  “11 charts that show that marijuana has truly gone mainstream” 

Harvard Medical School: “Cannabidiol (CBD): What We Know and What We Don’t”

Leafly: “This Program Wants to Teach Your Doctor about Cannabis”