Medical marijuana is a controversial political issue. Doctors who dare acknowledge the medical benefits of marijuana are pioneers in their fields, often risking losing their medical licenses in order to voice the truth about medical cannabis and stand up for what is best for their patients. A dedicated advocate for the medical cannabis community, Dr. Frank D’Ambrosio has been on the front lines of the medical cannabis debate for the past five years, regularly speaking out publicly in favor of legalization.

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Dr. D’Ambrosio began his medical career in the operating room. For nearly 30 years, he worked as a highly skilled orthopedic surgeon, and he has seen countless patients receive prescriptions for narcotic pain medications following surgery.  According to Dr. D’Ambrosio, “My practice now counsels patients all over the country, daily, on the use of medical marijuana to manage pain.”

Dr Frank D'Ambrosio Source: Dr. Frank D'Ambrosio

In 2017, Dr. D’Ambrosio was even named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Direct Cannabis Network, a news network focused on entrepreneurship within the cannabis industry. In a subsequent interview, D’Ambrosio told the story of how he came to be an advocate for medical marijuana. Said D’Ambrosio, “After 30 years of treating and operating on patients, many of whom would never find relief from their chronic pain, I decided to dedicate my practice to helping patients through medical cannabis.”

Using Cannabis To Combat Addiction

More than just medicine, Dr. D’Ambrosio argues that medical cannabis is a viable alternative to addictive narcotic medications like opioids. “I launched in response to the growing opioid epidemic in the United States,” says Dr.  D’Ambrosio. “Watching 18 ,000 people die every minute from prescribed narcotics when we have cannabis; a safe, natural alternative to so many medicinal products is outrageous. I cannot sit idly by and watch this happen.”

Recent research has confirmed that medical marijuana is an effective treatment for a range of conditions. Here are just a few recent examples. In 2018, Mouhamed et al. reviewed the therapeutic potential of medical marijuana and concluded that “cannabis presents as an appropriate alternative therapy option for patients who have epilepsy, movement disorders [i.e. dystonia, Huntington’s disease, etc.], and pain.” Results of another 2018 study by Vigil et al. found that consumption of medical cannabis in the flower form was “associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia.”  Research by Roitman et al., published in 2014, demonstrated that treatment with oral THC in olive oil “caused a statistically significant improvement in global symptom severity, sleep quality, frequency of nightmares, and PTSD hyperarousal symptoms.”

The number of conditions that medical marijuana can effectively treat is astonishing and warrants the attention of doctors everywhere. Calling cannabis “the ultimate DIY treatment,” Dr. D’Ambrosio emphasizes that “#CannabisIsAMedicine is my mantra…[It] can be applied to so many ailments from PMT, to PTSD, to epilepsy, MS to IBS even bipolar disorder and diabetes. It truly empowers people in ways I haven’t seen anything else.”

A Fascination With Cannabis

Dr. Frank D'Ambrosio Source: Dr. Frank D'Ambrosio

Dr. D’Ambrosio’s interest in educating the public on the benefits of medical marijuana is rooted in his fascination with the plant in general. Cannabis acts on the body’s endocannabinoid system; receptors naturally found throughout the body are, in fact, responsible for the “high” feeling achieved when smoking marijuana. D’Ambrosio highlighted the importance of the endocannabinoid system in an interview with LA Weekly, saying, “The fact that there’s a plant that has the same chemicals our body inherently has, and that there’s a system that can capture these chemicals fascinated me. It actually got me to think philosophically about cannabis and the world we live in. The chef Mario Batali, when he cooks, he uses ingredients from all one region. He says, ‘If it grows together, it goes together.’ How is that any different than humans?”

Dr. D’Ambrosio has been using social media to engage and educate the public on the issue of medical marijuana. As part of his advocacy, Dr. D’Ambrosio uses Italian cooking to educate the online community on the medical benefits of cannabis. In one video, Dr. D’Ambrosio shows the audience how to make a pizza with CBD oil. We highly recommend you check out that video for yourself here, it’s pretty entertaining – for a public awareness campaign. He’s also active on Twitter, saying in a tweet in January of this year, “Demand for medical cannabis is mainly driven by the chronic pain segment. The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from daily pain complications!...#medicalcannabis #nopatientleftbehind.”

In the interview with Direct Cannabis Network, Dr. D’Ambrosio offered a few words of sage advice to those newcomers looking to make a living as part of the legal cannabis business, saying, “The best piece of advice I can give others looking to enter the cannabis industry is; do not focus on the money end. Cannabis is medicine. There is an enormous number of sick people who need access to cannabis but are afraid because of the propaganda. People who cannot afford prescription drugs yet cannot grow their own medicine. Make your mission and your products about patient access and patient care and you’re all off to a good start.”

Dr. D’Ambrosio is hopeful that he is having a positive effect on the cannabis industry as a whole through his efforts to educate the medical community and the public, adding, “there has been so much misinformation and disinformation regarding cannabis that needs to be corrected…Education encourages the patient to make his or her own decisions regarding the efficiency of cannabis as a medicine and not leave it to those who may have alternative motives for suppressing the information.”

The FDA has recently been dropping hints at potential changes in the federal classification of cannabis and it’s certainly possible that federal legalization could be just around the corner. Patients deserve access to affordable, medicinal quality cannabis across the country. Dr. D’Ambrosio is just one of many doctors who are attempting to advocate for the best interests of their patients, patients who suffer from debilitating, chronic conditions.