Seventy-five years ago it was termed “the devil’s pitchfork.” A 1936 propaganda movie, Refer Madness, touted the insidious dangers of marijuana addiction for teenagers. Twenty years ago, possession of a joint or two could have spelled a prison term and a felony arrest.

Dr. Sasha Noe at her recent book signing for Cannabis And The Immune System.

Now, many states have moved to legalize the sale and possession of marijuana, usually in amounts deemed to be for personal use only. The euphemism and the rationale for this cultural and law enforcement pivot is based on two contemporary, less-threatening terms: recreational and medical. Recreational pot is still not legal in Florida, although draconian enforcement and jail time have all but disappeared. Medical marijuana is legal; however, the red tape (and costs) involved, for physician and patient, stretches from Pensacola to Naples.

Gov. DeSantis has repealed the ban on smoking medical cannabis, providing greater access to administer medical cannabis. Florida has even appointed a “Cannabis Czar” to enhance a regulated medical marijuana market.

As the horror stories about opioids have increased, more and more people and physicians are considering turning to a scientific cousin of marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD). Both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant provide CBD-rich cannabis oils. Hemp, however, contains under .3 percent THC, which is the psychoactive compound that gets marijuana users high. Hemp-derived CBD is used in products like oils, vapes, and edibles to provide a soothing, pain-relief effect. CBD, the non-psychoactive portion of the hemp plant, will not get a user high, in the same sense as marijuana. CBD has become popular due to its ability to provide relief from anxiety, pain, and mood swings, to help people sleep, and to help people looking to cutback on pharmaceuticals.

Into this controversy steps a South Shore physician, Sasha Noe, an award-winning physician, researcher, and expert in chronic disease management, preventative health – and medical cannabis.

For two decades, Dr. Noe, originally from Trinidad, has consulted and helped patients using medical cannabis, educated physicians on how to help their patients using medical cannabis, and consulted with the medical cannabis industry on how to meet the needs of both patients and physicians dealing with this topic. Noe, to the best of this writer’s knowledge, is the only known physician in the US who holds a PhD in molecular and cellular cannabinoid research, as well as a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree.

“I have specific clinics, including Apollo Beach, which evaluate patients to determine if medical cannabis use is appropriate and safe for them,” she pointed out. “I also lecture and educate physicians and non-physicians on various medical cannabis educational topics, nationally and internationally. There is no cookie-cutter method for helping patients with medical cannabis.”

Citing a tried and true analogy, Noe emphasized, “I don’t give them a fish, so to speak; I teach them how to fish.”

In 2018, Noe published a book named Marijuana And The Bible. She recently had a book signing at her Apollo Beach office for her latest release, Cannabis And The Immune System.

This book highlights the one-of-a-kind doctoral dissertation works of the author, Noe, as well as CBD’s application from “the bench to the bedside.”

Holistic patient care is one of Dr. Noe’s self-proclaiming driving core values. For more than two decades she has kept patients at the forefront of her mission through a total body-wellness approach to treatment.

Noe fully recognizes the possibilities of substance abuse problems with both so-called recreational marijuana and with medical cannabis. Speaking from her perspective as a physican, Noe said recreational drug use in adolescence for any drug or at any age is not recommended. She also warns about the OTC (over-the-counter) or over the internet purchase of CBD products, the potential next snake oil that offers a panacea for one’s aches, pains, and miseries.

“The CBD market is becoming like the billion-dollar supplement industry, she advises, adding the admonition that you don’t always know what you are getting (and taking). You are taking a gamble about the safety of hemp-based CBD products purchased over the internet or over the counter, the physician explained.

“From where I stand, there is no controversy about the medical benefits of cannabis in certain situations,” said Noe. “Individuals in my practice experience benefits from it without adverse effects. It is just a matter of time before the controversy ends, and more clarifications on risks-benefits can be accurately made from a medical and research standpoint.”

Dr Noe has a passion for medical missions and since 1995 has participated in numerous volunteer community service projects and fundraising activities in the Tampa Bay area, as well as overseas. She has lived in the Tampa Bay area for over 20 years and in Apollo Beach since 2003. Dr. Noe enjoys her free time with her husband of 28 years and her two children. Being from the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean, Dr. Noe said she appreciates the small-town charm and lifestyle in the SouthShore and combining the small-town doc experience with modern technology to bring an exceptional experience to her patients.