By Jeff Shenk
It’s been a long and often painful road to this big day for Kevin Edmundson, founder of CannaCare RX, based right here in Bartlesville. While this Thursday might be the opening day of his flagship medical cannabis clinic, his odyssey began almost 40 years ago when he broke his neck and back at the age of 18.
In an attempt to alleviate his pain, doctors put him on a regimen of opiates and other medications that eventually lead to his dependence on these pills for over 35 years. Not only did the life-long opioid addiction debilitate his body, but he also believes the 120+ pills he was taking each day – all prescribed by his doctors – eventually lead to his developing colon cancer and, shortly thereafter, a stroke.
It wasn’t until Kevin’s wife, Jocelyn, encouraged him to try a cannabis-infused oil called “Rick Simpson Oil” that he was able to not only eliminate virtually all 25 different medications he was taking, but also recover from his cancer and stroke so that he could once again speak, walk, and hug his family. Her determination to find an alternative treatment for her suffering husband quite literally saved his life – and introduced him to natural medicine.
Kevin says his personal ordeal led him to a nuanced understanding of the molecular diversity of the total cannabis plant, and the potential of the myriad of cannabinoids – beyond just THC and CBD – to have a powerful, if not life-changing, human impact. In other words, he believes it’s not so much about the “high” as it is the “healing” this powerful plant based medicine can provide.
This realization became the seed for his idea to create what would eventually become CannaCare RX. His mission: To bring the philosophy of one-on-one care to every patient fighting to get off opiates or prescription drug use by educating friends, family and patients about plant medicine.
But for Kevin, it goes far beyond education. He believes everyone should have full access to the medicine they need to lead a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life. That’s why he founded the Cannabis Compassion Program to help seniors, veterans, and others struggling with financial hardship. Through his charity, he has donated over $195,000 to help get free Medical Cards into the hands of those otherwise unable to afford them and get desperately needed medicines delivered right into homebound patients’ homes.
In fact, to make purchasing medicine even easier for his patients at his new clinic, Kevin has gone so far as to partner with a leader in cannabis banking and payments to give his clinic the unique ability to accept payments from his patients that prefer to pay using major credit & debit cards. He believes that, in an industry dominated by cash due to its current federal legal status, this unfairly discriminates against those on a fixed or government-supplemented income who may not always have the cash they need when they need it most. This legal and compliant “pay by text” solution helps close that gap and get medicine into his patients’ hands immediately when they visit his clinic or when purchased over the phone for delivery. Kevin exclaims, “It’s truly a game changer.”
Kevin is so enthusiastic about his Cannabis Compassion Program that he even asked the payments provider to donate a portion of all proceeds to help him with his mission to affect as many lives as possible – to which he is happy to report that they readily agreed. With partnerships like these, Kevin believes he can make a difference in so many more lives than he could acting alone.
When I asked him what philosophy drives him in his quest to help his fellow man, he reflected for a moment and responded, “There is no I in ‘we’ and, as a community, we must stand together to help each and every person rise up – rather than drown.” I can tell by his voice that he truly believes that – his passion is infectious.
His own foundation isn’t the only charity to which he donates his precious time and resources. Here in Bartlesville, he works with the Hopestone Cancer Center, Hopestone Hospice, Westside Community Center (with full support from the director, Larront Carney), and The Cottage of Bartlesville which helps so many women in need. He is also fiercely proud to employ veterans, recovering addicts, and “misjudged people in the community.”
As for his new CannaCare RX clinic, with its grand opening this Thursday at 4:20pm (the number “420” is significant in the cannabis world, originally meant to denote a popular time of day for consumption of marijuana), Kevin says he wants to focus on delivering an amazing quality of medicine at the most affordable pricing possible. For him, he said the patients come first always; profit is secondary.
When I asked him how that will translate into the customer experience at his clinic, he was keen to point out it revolves around the medical patient and therefore is not like the traditional Cannabis dispensary model. He added, “Physically, our facilities mirror a medical clinic/urgent care model rather than a dispensary. We’ve replaced the traditional dispensary budtender with certified caregivers. The customer experience starts with a one-on-one consultation in the CannaCare Clinic which covers the individual’s health and wellness status, objectives, areas of interest and concern.”
Once the patients have been assessed in the clinic, they can proceed to the dispensary connected to the clinic to purchase the medicine recommended for their needs. For those who might be intimidated by the typical dispensary experience, Kevin assures his patients that the Cannacare Rx pick-up is set up much more like a pharmacy. He proudly declares, “CannaCare has broken down the barriers for the true medical consumer to have a professional, comfortable and enjoyable experience.”
A strictly recreational consumer, however, can choose to bypass the CannaCare Clinic and proceed directly into the CannaCare Rx pharmacy and purchase products without a clinic visit.
If you’d like to support this cause, curious about cannabis, or if you’re an existing patient in need of affordable medication delivered in compassionate and professional manner that is neither intimidating nor judgemental, you’re encouraged to meet Kevin and his entire crew of clinicians and cannabis care staff this Thursday through Monday for the Grand Opening Memorial Day Celebration.
Throughout the Grand Opening festivities, and with the help of sponsors and donors, the Cannabis Compassion Program is planning to give out up to 400 free Medical Cards to patients in need. Attendees can also enjoy free educational classes on healthy living and proper medical treatment as well as speak with representatives from local cannabis growers, producers, and manufacturers.
The staff at CannaCare encourages everyone to come stop by, say hello, and learn more about their mission of help and healing for the community. This first CannaCare location is significant not only for Bartlesville, but Kevin also has grander plans to convert many other struggling clinics and dispensaries in the region to his compassionate care model. This Bartlesville clinic will serve as the blueprint for growth. In just the next 12 months, CannaCare has plans to expand into ten to twelve additional locations – with future expansion already in the works for Florida and Texas.
The Bartlesville CannaCare Clinic and RX is located at 900 SW Frank Phillips Boulevard, near the corner of S Seminole Avenue.
The clinic officially opens for business at 4:20pm this Thursday, May 27. After the grand opening, normal hours of operation will be Monday – Wednesday 10AM to 9PM, Thursday 9AM to 9PM, and Friday – Saturday 9AM to 10PM.
For questions or phone orders, the CannaCare staff is ready to take your calls: 800-201-3624. You can also visit their web site at www.cannacarerxonline.com.