Bootheel vertical applicant eyeballs old Walmart building for local revitalization
Bootheel CannaCare is an applicant group based out of Pemiscot and New Madrid Counties – and they’ve got a secret weapon: Air Force veteran Dr. Lara F. Huffman, MD
Huffman went to medical school at the University of Tennessee and did her residency at the University of Arkansas for 3 years and the University of Arizona for one. A psychiatrist, she was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, where she treated troops in-theatre for psychiatric issues. She spent 5 years in the Air Force.
The applicant group hopes to retrofit the previously closed Caruthersville WalMart for cultivation, manufacturing, and a dispensary. They’ve also applied for a second dispensary location in New Madrid.
Greenway Magazine caught up with the psychiatrist, who is currently contracted with a local healthcare center as well as operating a certification clinic in the bootheel.
Greenway: Why do you support medical marijuana?
Dr. Huffman: It’s a safer alternative to many of the psychiatric medications we regularly prescribe. It doesn’t have as much risk for addiction and withdrawal as the benzodiazepine narcotics commonly used for anxiety. It doesn’t have the metabolic side effects that many of the commonly used medications do.
In safe amounts, in moderation, it can target many psychiatric symptoms. Firstly, it is very effective for anxiety of all types. I’ve also seen it stabilize mood in clients with mood disorders. For clients with a history of childhood or other trauma, it relieves many of the symptoms of PTSD.
We are trained in Western Medicine to target symptoms/problems with medication. In my opinion, medical marijuana has the potential to prophylax and prevent severe problems from developing. I’ve seen this anecdotally when a client uses marijuana following a trauma.
I’ve known about the benefits and relative safety of marijuana for many years. I’ve waited for the opportunity to use it as a tool for many years. I’m thrilled to be able to prescribe it for clients now in Arkansas and Missouri.
How does medical marijuana help your patients?
While medical marijuana doesn’t solve all psychiatric or neurological problems it is known to be very effective for many of them. It can lower the amounts of other medications that carry a higher risk for eventual harm to the client. It can provide a much higher quality of life for clients with a myriad of disorders. For years substances that are highly addictive have been used for anxiety, ADHD, and pain. Medical marijuana improves these same symptoms but with a lower risk. While it is not for every client it is a tool that will in many ways help medicine, including psychiatry and neurology, evolve into preventive medicine vs reactive medicine.
What do you hope the facilities will do for the area?
The bootheel of Missouri has very high rates of poverty as well as mental illness. Its economy has suffered from the commercialization of farming. The economy is such that even the local Walmart was closed. The building now sits empty and is a reminder to the residents of poverty and economic depression.
Our team hopes to revitalize the Walmart building with a grow, infusion, and dispensing facility. We hope a new and thriving industry can bring not only a healthy medical treatment option to the area but also the possibility of new types of jobs. We expect our healthy optimism to spread to the community as a whole. Our team members work in the local area. We know firsthand how the population struggles. We desire to add a spark of hope that lights a fire of optimism and growth in the area.
What conditions do you see the most from your certification clinic?
I have seen a variety of conditions- nearly all addressed by the law. Many of the clients have a desire to lower their current medication use or to free themselves from addictive medications. Many are seeking a healthier way to address chronic pain and chronic anxiety. Many are already using marijuana for their symptoms and simply want to use this medication legally. I also have been pleasantly surprised to have clients who have never experienced the effects of marijuana. Based on their research they come, even into their later decades, seeking a healthier option than what the pharmaceutical companies have produced.
What makes the area unique for medical marijuana need?
The area suffers from very high rates of opiate addiction. It also boasts some of the highest rates of mental illness in the country. High poverty and low rates of education are breeding grounds for addictions of all types. The combination of addiction and mental illness make medical marijuana a welcome addition to the current treatment options.
How does your experience with medical marijuana in Tennessee and Arkansas compare to Missouri?
As a resident of Tennessee, I’m frustrated that we don’t have access to medical marijuana. I love the law that Missouri residents passed. It is broad in scope and gives the medical provider significant options in prescribing marijuana as medicine. It recognizes the utility of marijuana in treating addiction. It allows the psychiatric provider the option to determine which clients could benefit without limiting the medicine to only certain conditions. The Arkansas law is more restrictive, allowing only treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but not other psychiatric illnesses.
What is your group’s facility vision/priorities?
- Provide a vehicle for the evolution of each individual team member
- Provide quality medicine addressing the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of a devastated but deserving community
- Provide hope and revitalization to an economically and socially challenged area
What should patients know about Bootheel CannaCare?
- We are real
- We are local
- We believe in marijuana and enjoy working with it
- We believe in the resiliency of the Bootheel and can’t wait to see it’s contributions to the medical marijuana industry at large