The American Medical Marijuana Physicians Association’s (AMMPA) Annual Conference will be held October 4-6 at the Hilton Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, FL. The membership-driven association focuses on providing physicians and healthcare professionals with the resources they need to safely and effectively utilize medical marijuana recommendations as an alternative treatment modality for their patients.

AMMPA was started a few years ago by Florida physicians knowing that the state would soon have medical marijuana legislation approved.

“We wanted to get organized to help each other as well as the new doctors coming on board to manage this new specialty,” says Mark Chaet, MD, AMMPA President. “We came together with the mission to educate physicians and advocate for the type of care they were delivering as well as work on legislative issues that would come up.”

Since the field was also relatively new and there were not many experts yet in the cannabis industry in Florida, Dr. Chaet says that they wanted to be cautious on how they took a position.

“We started the organization as the number of physicians who were getting involved in the industry grew, and as a result, our membership began to grow,” he says. “There was just a vacuum that was created and we were happy enough to fill it.”

Today, AMMPA is the largest physician medical cannabis association with more than 1,000 physician members. The organization serves as a physician advocate helping to outline practice risks and benefits, educational requirements, compliance issues, and aggregates its members to allow for a unified voice representing all physicians currently interested in cannabinoid medicine. Its members are leaders in the nation who provide expertise to the public regarding research, education, speaking engagements, seminars, and industry recommendations.

At the AMMPA Annual Conference in October, Dr. Chaet says that they will be announcing a few new projects that have not been made public yet. “You will hear more about advances that will make the organization even more valuable to its members at the meeting.”

Dr. Chaet encourages physicians who are now recommending medical marijuana and seeing patients who are using cannabis to join the organization as a two-way street of education.

“You will receive information, have a resource to go to when you have questions, and be part of an organization that emphasizes really high quality education and educational programs,” he says. “You will also be able to bring things to the table yourself as you gain experience.”

He points out that one of its biggest challenges is that no one is allowed to do any research on marijuana in the United States. “All we’re allowed to do is review outcomes of our own patients—observational research. So the doctors can get together and add any findings to the current information and teach all of us to be better at our training.”

Other benefits to joining include:

Practice Help: AMMPA provides resources facilitating the use of medical cannabis recommendations in your practice.

Legislative Advocacy: AMMPA will maintain a strong legislative presence aimed at protecting and strengthening medical marijuana practices. It will support policies that will advance and protect its physicians’ positions in the state of Florida.

Licensure Questions: AMMPA will help answer any questions you have.

State Required CME: Recommending Medical Marijuana or Low-THC cannabis may be new for a lot of physicians, therefore AMMPA provides multiple resources to facilitate the educational requirements physicians may need.

For those physicians seeking to earn CME credits at the annual meeting, CME accreditation will be applied for once the program is complete. It is anticipated that between 17 – 19 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ will be awarded.

The AMMPA Annual Conference is the perfect opportunity to meet representatives of companies that can be beneficial to your practice.

“We have really exciting speakers at the conference,” says Dr. Chaet. “Nikki Fried, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, will be speaking on one of the very hot topics today, industrial hemp and CBD. She is right in the middle of everything that has to do with that. It’s going to be exciting to hear what she has to say. We’ve also invited and connected with several international researchers who are truly on the cutting edge of cannabis for years. it will be fun for physicians to be able to hear from people with literally decades of experience as opposed to what we hear about locally.”

Most of all, however, Dr. Chaet is looking forward to getting physicians together and strengthening this social network that’s just beginning. “We want to really promote the idea that we’re not competitors; we’re colleagues and this is a new fresh start for everyone. This is not a surgical society or an internal medicine society or pulmonary society where the members have been practicing for a long time. This is brand new to many of us. It’s up to us as the physicians who are part of it to create its own personality. So I think the Conference is a great place for us to start doing that.”

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