“Our philosophy is that cannabis is a tool, one of many healing tools. It should be part and parcel of an overall treatment plan,” says Donna Shields, co-founder of the Holistic Cannabis Academy in Boulder, Colorado.
The HCA, an educational program on medical cannabis for practitioners, was developed by Shields and co-founder Laura Lagano—both registered dietician nutritionists. Continued education is expected, even required of healthcare professionals; but, when it came to medical cannabis, programs simply didn’t exist to fill that important space. When Shields realized that her colleagues knew little to nothing about cannabis, she saw it as an opportunity.
Cannabis, Synergy, and Whole Body Health
With a belief that cannabis (and all medical treatments) should be viewed through a larger lens, importance is given to the “whole body system” and how, physically, everything is related. With personal support for the “synergistic” effect in treatment care, Shields considers integrating cannabis with various modalities of healthcare, such as a good nutrition plan, acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, and yoga, as an important facet to healing.
“Cannabis is a tool, one of many healing tools. It should be part and parcel of an overall treatment plan.”
“You don’t have to be in one camp or the other. Cannabis can be used in conjunction with your medication; we never tell anyone to stop taking their medication,” she says. “This can be an integral part of your treatment plan. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.”
This is exactly what Shields and Lagano have built the Holistic Cannabis Academy for: broadening perspectives and giving health practitioners a greater understanding of cannabis’ place in the medical world.
The program is run entirely online with rolling admissions, so people can join at any time. Shields markets the program in a variety of ways, including accessing medical conferences and hosting online summits. Their first summit spanned four days, 28 speakers, and 17,000 people opting in to the program.
The classes aren’t limited to certain geographical locations either, which means their student body reaches across the globe, including Canada, New Zealand, Spain, and Australia. In fact, interest abroad may be less apprehensive than here in the states.
“I see those in Canada as already being more holistically minded, so this isn’t that big a leap [for them],” says Shields. “As Canada looks to fully legalize, they’re not hamstrung by the same issues that we have [in the United States], so it’s been more comfortable for them to think about it.”
The HCA was approved for continuing education credit hours in Canada, which makes it easier for students to justify spending time and money on the program.
This is a big deal, because it allows health practitioners to meet their continuing education requirements while taking…