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2 minute read

Cannabis Advocate | Tara DeMond

BY BRIAN HOUCK

Tara DeMond was too excited to sleep. She had just started her first job in the medical marijuana industry, and it would be the first step on her journey. DeMond took a pay decrease by taking the job, but she wanted to get her foot in the door in the industry. “I couldn’t stop,” she said. “It didn’t matter what they were paying me.”

She was working six days a week. If they had been open Sundays, she would have worked then, too. The startup reminded her of the adrenaline rush she experienced helping people when she first became a nurse. She was so excited to be at the forefront of medical marijuana in Florida that she would tell her husband, “It was like Christmas Eve, I couldn’t sleep because of the excitement.”

Tara DeMond was semi-retired when she moved to Florida, working part-time as a legal nurse consultant focused on occupational diseases. When the opportunity to work at a medical marijuana treatment center became available, she thought, “I bet my husband would think that would be really cool if I went to work for a marijuana doctor.” His response? “You’ve gotta do it.”

She started off as a sales associate, though she never previously worked in retail. For her, it was all about patient education, taking it as a challenge to educate herself on all aspects on the medicine. She read of marijuana helping children have fewer seizures and of Parkinson’s patients having their symptoms decrease.

She became a physician outreach liaison, where—as a nurse—she would go out and educate physicians who were not yet familiar with marijuana. She also worked in patient advocacy; she would do events and talk about the benefits of medical cannabis.

Instead of starting with a marijuana strain that is too strong, DeMond advises patients to start off with a low CBD product then proceed to one with a higher CBD content that has a touch of THC.

“All of my patients seem to get a better response with that,” said DeMond.

She understands every patient is different and what works for one may not work for another. It is important that they test different products to find the one which works best for them.

She then got a call from another MMTC. Surterra promised to be a place where she could work directly with patients. She started off as a patient advocate, “going to music festivals and home shows trying to interject myself into the community where other MMTCs weren’t… Nobody was really going out into the community.”

DeMond recently has also taken on the role of provider advocate. She educates doctors on new developments in the medical marijuana industry. “As with any medicine, is important for a doctor to be educated about what he/she is prescribing,” De- Mond says, so she teaches the basics as well as more in-depth concepts.

DeMond also works with Florida Gulf Coast University in their newly created cannabis program. She goes into classes and teaches students about what it is like in the industry and helps find them internships and opportunities for real world experience. The couple’s goal is to inform students about the whole process “from seed to sale” to give them the full scope of the medical cannabis business.

The Grateful Veteran, a nonprofit organization, was formed by Tara and her husband Jeff, a disabled veteran who retired from the Navy after 20 years of service to our country. The Grateful Veteran was formed to assist veterans in all aspects of life including educating them about the benefits of medical cannabis.

Their goal among others: To teach how Marijuana can be a safer equivalent to addictive pain-killing opiates.

TO LEARN MORE OR SEEK ASSISTANCE FROM THE GRATEFUL VETERAN ORGANIZATION, EMAIL

TheGratefulVeteran@gmail.com