How did Cannabis Doctors Australia begin life and who formed it? What milestones brought it to the point it’s at now?
Cannabis Doctors Australia started with our family; we are a family of professionals and doctors and very early on we saw the opportunity that existed within Medical Cannabis to assist with people’s medical conditions and symptoms. In 2016 we were one of Australia’s first to gain a license to wholesale Medical Cannabis through Burleigh Heads Cannabis (BHC), and part of that learning curve what we understood was Medical Cannabis would have to be delivered by an excellent and quality clinical service.
In 2018, we started Cannabis Doctors Australia (CDA), with began with Jess, Ben and Guy sitting around kitchen table late into the night – we quit our jobs and no income for a long time, meanwhile working out a way to make the SAS applications easier. The goal for CDA was to improve the access for patients to safe, affordable and quality medical cannabis products in Australia. All the staff at CDA believe in the healing powers of Medical Cannabis and indeed each of them have their own story of why they’re here and why they’re involved in this organisation.
Dr Matua Jansen: “My personal story was that I graduated from medical school in Auckland New Zealand, then moved to Sydney Australia. In Sydney I was a medical officer in oncology for nearly a decade. During this time, I was working in oncology in the day wards and admitting patients to provide them with chemotherapy to help with their cancers. One day I had a patient come to me and this patient was at the stage where she was no longer able to tolerate chemotherapy and she asked me ‘Do you know any research into medical cannabis?’, at this time I had no idea the benefits that medical cannabis had. So, this really started my journey into understanding what the benefits are to using medical cannabis in adjunction with other medicines such a chemotherapy, for example to help with nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite that terminal, cancer and chemotherapy patients suffer from.”
Dr Ben Jansen and our marketing director Jessimine Jansen are brother and sister. Their story relates to their mother who unfortunately was diagnosed at a young age with a motoneuron disease and unfortunately that progressed very rapidly. After her passing they discovered that there was a patent outstanding in America by the department of health for the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) as a neuroprotective, so that started their pathway to researching and understanding about how these amazing plants can help treat patients suffering from numerous conditions from motor neuron diseases, inflammation, insomnia, cancer pain, chronic pain, anxiety and so much more.
Guy Headley is co-founder of Burleigh Heads Cannabis and Director of Operations. Having been active in the Australian Medical Cannabis industry since 2016, Guy brings a wealth of knowledge to his role as CDA Director of Operations. Additionally, Guy has more than a decade of experience in procurement negotiation. Guy has utilised his professional standing to help build and maintain strong relationships in the global cannabis supply chain and domestic regulatory agencies to ensure Burleigh Heads Cannabis maintains a robust market presence.
What are your goals for CDA? Can you conceive of a “finish line” and what does that look like?
There’s no finish line, there will always be a place for medical cannabis – Canada’s medical cannabis market didn’t decrease when cannabis was legalised there. It stalled for a while and then continued its increase. People will always want proper medical advice for medicines, whether plant-based or not.
The main goal for CDA is to be the most trusted medical cannabis brand in Australia and Australasia and I believe we’re well on track on reaching that goal. Behind this goal is a set of values which define us, values such as honesty, transparency and integrity. To reach this goal we have developed a company that’s purpose driven and value driven, our core values of honesty, transparency and integrity will lead the way for us. By being a patient-focused clinical service we can aim to deliver the best quality of service for the patient. We must ensure that the staff that we onboard all believe in the healing powers of medical cannabis and that they are focused on delivering an excellent service by improving the business processes both individually and professionally – Creating hope for those who lost it and budding miracles for those who deserve it
How do you figure out if things are going in the right direction or whether you need to correct the course?
By analysing feedback from our patients and partners. We recently achieved the milestone of 6,000 prescriptions in 500 days. The awareness around Medical Cannabis is growing, and by listening and observing our leads or patients enquires and behaviours, we’re able to check if we’re on the right path. As the marketing has been put before a lot of the science, we are constantly learning and discovering how medicinal cannabis has helped people in unexpected ways.
At CDA we have a wide range of metrics to understand our business and whether we’re on track. These metrics are across our entire organisation from the patient care team to the clinical team to the marketing team to the wholesaling team. What’s important is the culture of accountability, both as individuals and as an organisation and that is are we hitting our metrics, are we on the right track to achieve certain goals whether that’s an educational campaign or a specific number of patients. For example – recently as a clinical team we passed 3000 active patients in Australia which was a big milestone for us; what it shows is that we are fast becoming Australia’s leading medical cannabis brand. We have done well to achieve this goal by delivering a personalised service.
What’s different about your brand and how you do business? This can be anything – relationships, innovations, unique aspects of your products or operations, whatever speaks most effectively to your motivations and aspirations.
- Good quality service at an affordable price.
- We utilise the power of nurses in our services – as the old saying goes “doctors cure, nurses care” bringing humanity and hugs to our patients. Nurses are great listeners and come from a place of empathy. In a fast-paced world it is nice to be reminded to slow down. They keep us on track.
The CDA brand is one that is becoming a leading authority in medical cannabis in Australia. We develop personalised care, we standardise our consultations and prescribing to ensure clinicians can practice safely and finally we deliver that service via specialised clinics, clinics where we are able to control and improve the marketing and branding that you can see, everything from the information resources, the handouts, etc – all of that is important so that patients can get familiar, quality and personalised service.
The difference between us and other cannabis organisations in Australia is our focus on being a purpose-driven, values-based organisation. Our values of integrity, honesty and transparency filter through every aspect of our company, from the moment a patient first encounters our website (which allows access to a wide range of research and information resources, all freely available). All the way through the process, the patient will receive clear and concise information via electronic emails, including details on the paperwork that is required. Every step of the way patients are getting the best quality and the most up-to-date information on cannabis, so that they can make the most informed decisions and choices regarding their care. Our aim is to inform the patient so they can make the best decision on what medicines go into their body, currently in Australia many patients are turning away from big pharmaceutical companies, in particular, synthetic medicines, such as opioids, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, medicines that can do a lot of harm and every year many Australians die from overdoses from these prescription medicines.
Our goal is in two parts: 1) we ensure to provide access to safe affordable medical cannabis products while 2) reinforcing choice to patients and educating them on how medical cannabis in particular is very safe and provides another option when traditional medicines have failed.
Millennial consumers are more conscious than any previous generation about who they’re giving their money too; how do you guys feel about transparency and is it something you personally find desirable in the businesses you support?
We’re extremely transparent. It’s one of our pillar values.
To provide patients with a script a lot of work is involved, from a big amount of paperwork to tracking, phone calls and the doctors time. That’s how we justify our consultation price. Also, our doctors are Medical Cannabis authorities, being constantly invited to speak in conferences in Australia and New Zealand.
We try to show our customers how they can benefit from our services, how each case is carefully conducted and, how every prescription is unique, building through this our brand’s value perception.
Some brands try to provide the lowest cost, others try to provide the highest quality. The interaction between both defines where you are on the value scale between budget and luxury. Where do you situate CDA and why did you choose to set up camp there?
- Good quality service at an affordable price.
- CDA’s goal is to increase access to Medical Cannabis Australia wide. Our work goes beyond prescribing Medical Cannabis. We constantly fight to educate doctors, inform potential patients.
What do you feel is the best thing about your brand? What has the most room for improvement?
We aim to be a brand that it’s easy to relate to – easy to remember, easy to understand. We just want to make it easy for patients. We understand that the process can be hard for some people, our goal is to help them to navigate into this process.
Our name says everything: Cannabis Doctors Australia, we are currently the Industry leaders across the country.
What’s your biggest challenge in terms of making CDA the best it can be? If you had a magic wand, what barrier would you remove?
As CDA is a new brand we are still improving, we learn from our patients. We have to adjust to unpredictable situations and continuously come up with ideas and solutions.
Making CDA the best as it can be is one of our goals, and we would say the lack of information is one of our biggest challenges. There still a lot of stigma around Medical Cannabis and educating doctors has been challenging.
Also, relating to patients, there’s still a lot that needs to be said about street cannabis, as some people falsely believe that the cost of Medical Cannabis is higher than the illegal one.
Who is the community that surrounds CDA? How involved are they – active, passive, a mix?
The community that surrounds CDA is the same community that all Australians live in, which is a multi-culturally diverse community. Our patients range from as young as 2-months-old all the way up to 98-years-old. We cover a wide range of medical conditions and symptoms and that ranges from chronic pain to stress, anxiety, PTSD, insomnia, inflammation and many of the symptoms of cancer such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting. These are conditions that can potentially affect all Australians.
We also have a very strong online community of followers, advocates and supporters. Facebook, Instagram and we’ve set up several communities online and groups to assist with medical cannabis education whether that’s fibromyalgia, chronic pain or chronic inflammatory syndromes. CDA patients are our biggest advocates: patients who have come through our system and our journey and have been treated with cannabis and have found it beneficial have gone on to communicate that within their families and their communities.
How would you describe the cultural landscape of the cannabis industry? What are we doing well and what do we need to do better?
There’s a lot of stigma around Medical Cannabis, and this is certainly connected to cultural aspects. Although the Cannabis market is booming in Australia, we observe there are still many barriers we have to get over, as competing with the black market. It’s important to highlight how the legal, regulated access to Cannabis involves economic and political matters as well.
In terms of community, have you entered into any partnerships or co-promotions with other brands who share similar goals? Are you open to this or do you have plans to do so in the future?
CDA is an independent, doctor-led organisation. While we have collaborated with a number of Australian and international companies, our focus has been on maintaining that independence and ensuring that the service we deliver is one that we are able to personalise and focus on effective patient care.
CDA recently partnered with CanView, which is a Medical Cannabis marketplace. By becoming partners, our patients will be able to access the widest range of Medical Cannabis products in the market, and our doctors will share their expertise and knowledge through the platform, allowing the medical community to keep updated and informed about the topic.
What’s coming next for CDA?
CDA is currently working on the expansion of services and product supply. At the moment we plan to increase awareness of CDA’s services Australia-wide.
One of the most exciting things on the horizon for CDA is CanView. CanView is going to be Australia’s Medical Cannabis leading marketplace, it will be the one stop shop where patients are able to educate on both the benefits and potential side effects of Cannabis. We’ve worked with both national and international suppliers to ensure that CanView will provide the widest range of choice to patients.
CDA is well positioned to expand and scale our organisation, we have onboarded a wide range of staff from our clinicians, to our patient care team, to our marketing team. This is to ensure that we’re able to cope with the increase in demand that were seeing. Currently our enquires are at the highest level that we’ve seen since we’ve started, and our consultations are well on track to ensure that we are providing access to the whole of Australia. As part of our goal to become Australia’s leading Medical Cannabis brand and organisation we have made decisions to expand in Australia and we are aiming to open a new specialised clinic that’s delivering personalised care to patients much like our Gold Coast clinic, it will be tailored to patients who will know that it is a clinic dedicated to cannabis as soon as they walk in the door.
With this expansion we have validated the correct model to move forward, and that model is effectively trained clinicians – both cannabis nurses and doctors – and the right format for a clinic. From the moment a CDA patient walks in through the door they will understand that the branding, the marketing and the information resources that they receive is the most up-to-date and accurate, so they will feel ensured that the service we provide is one that’s familiar and one that comes with authority.
An end note
Cannabis Doctors Australia have worked very hard during these trying times. While many organisations were unfortunately having to let staff go and some even sadly shutting down, CDA made an active decision to improve our onboarding process and to actively onboard new staff.
We’ve employed new Cannabis Doctors, Cannabis Nurses, Administrative staff and Patient Care Team members. Unlike other organisations, we’ve expanded, and we owe that to the amazing support that our community has given to us.
Right now, we’ve passed the milestone of 3000 active patients, and those are patients that come back to see us regularly to make sure they’re being prescribed safe medicines at the right dosages. A number of these patients go onto to become advocates of Medical Cannabis and are doing their own part in growing the CDA community and destigmatising cannabis as a medicine.
If you are located anywhere in Australia, we can consult with you via Telehealth, please visit our website for more information www.CannabisDoctorsAustralia.com.au.