An Interview with Dr. Troutt of Harvest Health & Recreation Inc.

Dr. Troutt is a naturopathic medical doctor, specializing in cannabis-based medicine and treatment, and Director of Medical Education for Harvest Health & Recreation Inc.

Since 2010, Dr. Troutt has worked exclusively in the cannabis industry and has consulted with thousands of cannabis patients, providing extensive practical experience in safe and effective cannabis use and cannabis treatment.

In addition to serving as Director of Medical Education companywide, Dr. Troutt serves as the Medical Director for fifteen dispensaries in Arizona.  

Hi Dr. Troutt, thank you for your time and for doing this interview for AZFoothillsMagazine.com! Please give us all a bit of background on yourself and how you got into the cannabis industry.

I’ve been excited about this plant for decades.  When I first really became interested was around 1990.  I learned that the first American flag was made from cannabis and I was dumbfounded.

I couldn’t believe that our first American flag and the first draft of our constitution were made out of an “illegal” plant.  It got me started down the path of researching the plant and its history.

As a young adult, I severely injured my hip and back in a sports accident.  Physicians were telling me that drugs and surgery were my only options.

That advice didn’t sound like a great plan for me.  So, I started looking into natural medicines, acupuncture, and other alternative treatments to get back to playing sports and feeling like myself again.  This started me down the path of studying naturopathic medicine, and cannabis as an extension of that.

When the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act passed, it was a no-brainer because I already had a degree in naturopathic medicine and a license to practice in Arizona. My studies had provided a great wealth of knowledge about botanical medicines in general and cannabis specifically.  Initially, I began consulting with and certifying qualifying patients seeking to use cannabis to treat their medical condition.

Then, in 2013, I joined Harvest as the Medical Director when they opened their first dispensary in Tempe, Arizona.

What role do you play as Medical Director for Harvest?

As Medical Director, my main role is to provide education to dispensary staff, patients, and the communities we serve on safe and effective cannabis use.

This includes understanding the different types of cannabis medicines and products, different methods of use and modes of administration, and the potential benefits and risks associated with its use.

Many individuals associate medical marijuana with that of helping individuals cope with chemotherapy. Are there other illnesses that medical marijuana is effective in reducing symptoms for?

Well, that’s the extraordinary thing about cannabis; it can be used for so many different conditions.  Chronic illnesses are where cannabis has the greatest ability to provide people relief from their symptoms and help them feel better.  Individuals with severe chronic pain are using cannabis for relief and as an alternative to other medication concerns.  People with neurological conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS have reported symptom improvement.  It is also being used for symptoms associated with chronic viral infections like HIV and Hepatitis C.  Perhaps the most heartfelt benefit supported by recent research is reduced seizure activity in children with severe intractable seizure disorders.

Obviously, it’s nice to see things change as states legalize cannabis access and use for medical and recreational purposes.  Although, we still need to see cannabis normalized and rescheduled on the federal level, so we can perform more human clinical research.

What will be the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis?

Well, there definitely will be a legal distinction.  As far as how people access the program, medical patients will still see a physician, get a certification, and register with the Arizona Department of Health to use it for specific qualifying medical conditions.

There will also be differences in the way patients are taxed and how they interact with the dispensary system.  Prop 207, the 2020 Smart and Safe Arizona Act, expanded the legalization of cannabis use from specific severe medical conditions to include all responsible adult use.  Many people will now be able to access cannabis recreationally for non-qualifying medical conditions and health purposes.  

The origin of the term recreation has its foundations in health.  Its meanings have included, “refreshment,” ”rejuvenation,” “to restore,” or to “recover from an illness.” Safe responsible recreation is known to be a powerful tool for invigorating an individual’s mental and physical health.

Many people think there is just “indica and sativa,” and cannabis is used to “get high” when there are so many other uses for the plant. Can you touch a little bit on that?

There are over 400 different compounds in the cannabis plant, including over 100 different cannabinoids and terpenoids that synergize with each other.  It appears that in different types of cannabis, these compounds form in spectrums and work together for enhanced benefits and specific effects.  For individuals to think it is just the CBD or THC is short sighted—we still have so much more to research and learn about the potential of the plant.

The non-euphoric hemp variety of the cannabis plant should also be memorialized as it has been used throughout history for food, health, and resources for thousands of years.  The cannabis plant can make clothing, building materials, paper, rope, hand creams, and literally dozens of other products.  Cannabis is a seasonal plant that can also convey benefits to our ecosystem while providing various necessities.

I keep hearing about this endocannabinoid system in our bodies from the moment we are born. Can you tell me more about it?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the cannabis plant, that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health.  Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found and work throughout the body, in the brain, organs, tissues, glands, and immune cells.

In each tissue, the endocannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the main purpose is homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment.

Researchers in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s tracked the THC compound throughout the human body and found that it selects specific sites in the brain that we now call cannabinoid receptors.  We are born with a special ability to respond to THC and other compounds within the cannabis plant.  This system plays a key role in maintaining balance and homeostasis in our bodies.

Studying the effects of the cannabis plant is teaching us a great deal about our physiology and how our bodies function.  Continued research has the potential of discovering entirely new cannabinoid medicines, treatment approaches, and healthcare practices.

Thank you, Dr. Troutt, for your time, and we all hope to hear from you soon!

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