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Meet Dr. Lewis Jassey, Pediatrician and Medical Director at Leafwell

Dr. Lewis Jassey leafwell employee

We sat down with Dr. Lewis Jassey, Leafwell’s medical director, to talk about how he began working in the medical cannabis industry, the patient successes he’s witnessed, and more. Originally from Long Island, New York, and currently living in Florida, he’s been with Leafwell since its founding in 2019.

In this exclusive look behind the Leafwell curtain, Dr. Jassey shares his wisdom as a pediatrician who has been practicing medicine for over 29 years and his advice for patients, parents, and other doctors interested in learning more about cannabis.

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How’d You End Up Working in the Medical Cannabis Industry?

I’ve been a pediatrician for the last 29-and-a-half years, and I never thought in a million years that I’d be doing this. Never.

My best friend from growing up, a trauma surgeon for many years, reached out to me about an opportunity in the medical cannabis industry.

“Come on, I’m not a pot doc,” I told him. “I would never do something like that. I’m a pediatrician. I lecture kids before they leave for college about not using cannabis.”

He said, “You don’t understand. This is a growing field, and you can help people in ways you never thought you previously could.”

I laughed at it, but like any good scientist, I explored, delved, and tried to derive my own conclusions about things. Sure enough, I was surprised by how you can help people, not just adult patients but also pediatric patients.

I have patients on the autism spectrum. I have pediatric patients who have cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases, seizures — I can go on and on. And I can help them. I can just help them differently.

We, as doctors, learn different approaches to treating patients in our residencies. After we leave our residencies, we owe it to our patients to be on the cutting edge, going to conferences if possible, and being on top of the latest of what’s going on with new treatments and the latest research. With that in mind, medical cannabis should be no different.

How Do You Build Lasting Relationships With Your Patients?

My father was a doctor for years, and I remember going on house calls with him growing up. I remember parents, spouses, daughters, and sons of patients saying to me time and time again, “Your dad is like a part of our family.”

That was really cool, and it was one of the things that inspired me to go into medicine.

I’ve been at Leafwell for almost four years now. I’m seeing the positive progression that many patients are having, and they’re thanking me for giving their lives back to them or giving their family member’s quality of life back to them.

I feel like I’m part of their families, and I never thought that would happen in this arena. I encourage doctors who are still determining what they want to do with their careers to consider this line of work. You can make a meaningful difference with people.

It’s unbelievable to see people you took care of almost four years ago returning for their second, third, and fourth renewals.

I’ve watched patients progress toward getting off opioids. I’ve watched patients go on the terpene called linalool, for example, and go from seizing hundreds of times to now not seizing at all.

I’ve witnessed MRIs that show tumors shrinking when all patients have done differently is use medical cannabis. I’ve seen children — and even adult patients — on the spectrum who can make eye contact now, engage in conversations, be in large crowds, leave their houses, and generally function in society.

It’s fascinating. And we all, as doctors, owe it to ourselves to explore and be open-minded to anything and everything that can help our patients. It’s not like we’re doing anything with harmful side effects.

That’s not to downplay some adverse effects patients may have, such as dizziness. But there’s not much danger in this treatment, especially when you are methodical about dosing and always go low and slow.

How Do You Address the Concerns Patients Have About Medical Cannabis?

Just like anything else in medicine, education is critical. Patients look to us for guidance and reassurance and to let them know they will be OK with this treatment.

That’s what we do here at Leafwell. We just don’t certify you and say, “OK, great. You have chronic pain. Have a nice day.” We give guidance.

As the medical director for Leafwell, that’s something that I pride our staff on doing. We teach patients that getting their medical card is not just going to a dispensary and picking out a gummy randomly. It doesn’t work that way.

So, How Does It Work?

You have to create a balance.

On the one hand, many patients are desperate for quick results, so you want to establish realistic expectations of how long treatment may take before results are apparent. It isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Dosing low and slow takes time.

I know it’s instinctive in society that we want quick fixes immediately. And sometimes, you’ll get that with medical cannabis. It’s possible. But then again, sometimes it doesn’t work that way.

You want patients to understand that they’re in this long term. If they increase the dosage (e.g., the number of drops, milligrams, etc.) and don’t see results, that’s OK. We’ll go to that next rung, and the next rung, and so on. Patience is critical with this.

Even when the dosage is figured out and you hit that sweet spot, you may build up a tolerance to that dose over time. If that happens, you may have to adjust your dosage again.

What Conditions or Symptoms Have You Seen Medical Cannabis Improve?

We have a tremendous amount of success in treating patients with chronic pain, PTSD, inflammatory bowel diseases, seizures, and cancer — both in the management of side effects from chemotherapy treatment as well as seeing evidence in radiographic studies of shrinking tumors.

Also, we see tremendous success with patients — from pediatrics to adults — with developmental issues, notably those on the spectrum. It’s unbelievable.

Insomnia, of course, is a biggie. And I have certified over five figures of patients in the last four years, so I’m a good resource to gauge that.

How Does Medical Cannabis Help Pediatric Patients?

When I got into the medical cannabis industry, I thought I would never do this for pediatrics. However, the biggest successes I’ve seen with pediatrics have been with patients on the autism spectrum.

For example, children who weren’t making eye contact can now make eye contact. Children who weren’t speaking are now putting together syllables, a few words, or short sentences. I’ve seen children on the spectrum who only slept two to three hours at night who are now sleeping.

I’ve treated sensory-driven children where certain textures on their bodies, clothing tags, specific sounds, etc., would bother them. I’ve seen improvement from this treatment with children frustrated and lashing out at anyone around them because they were terrified about their environment.

Medical cannabis provided relief and enabled them to go out into public with their families and generally function better in public environments.

Many times, parents with children on the spectrum will go to their pediatrician, and their pediatrician does not fully know how to help them and may send them to specialists.

Often, there are waiting lists that are six months deep. Or, the only options are cash-only, and the parents can’t afford thousands of dollars to spend out of pocket to go to an alternative medicine doctor.

Medical cannabis is now a viable option. I don’t want parents to be scared of it. The intent is not to get your child high at all. It’s to take the edge off to ground them a little bit.

You’re not going to dose children the same way that you’re going to dose adults. Often, medical cannabis for pediatric patients will have higher CBD ratios than THC. It doesn’t mean you can’t use THC. You just have to go low and slow with it.

It goes even deeper than CBD and THC ratios, though. Certain terpenes will work better on anxiety, or certain terpenes will work better on digestion.

If you have a child diagnosed with Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, limonene is a great terpene that can help out with that. If you have a child with a seizure disorder, severe anxiety, or trouble sleeping, linalool can be a great option.

Thank You, Dr. Jassey. Any Final Thoughts?

Consider anything and everything, including medical cannabis. I think that it should be a frontline option. I never thought I’d say that. I just see tremendous success with it.

I’m not anti-medicine. There’s a place for everything, including medical cannabis. Keep your mind open and understand the value of medical cannabis. It’s a game-changer. It really is.

This interview has been lightly edited for concision and readability. Stay tuned for more Behind the Leafwell Curtain interviews, and check out our patient stories series on YouTube to hear medical marijuana patients talk about their journeys with cannabis in their own words.

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