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Natural Awakenings Rhode Island

Community Spotlight - Summit Medical Compassion Center

Summit Medical Compassion Center
Educating Patients about Medical Marijuana
by Wendy Fachon

A reliable and trusted provider of top-quality medical marijuana and related services, Rhode Island’s Summit Medical Compassion Center is dedicated to improving a patient’s quality of life through natural and safe therapeutic options while avoiding the undesirable side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals. When the utility of opioids diminishes through time and results in serious side effects, cannabis is a preferable option. One study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states, “Cannabis can be an effective treatment for pain, greatly reduces the chance of dependence and eliminates the risk of fatal overdose compared to opioid-based medications.”

Cannabis can prevent opioid use and can alleviate symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Award-winning neuroscientist, Adie Poe, explains how cannabis can help with opioid detox and replacement: “The evidence suggests it’s the opposite of a gateway drug. It’s an exit drug. This is one of the most exciting frontiers we have in cannabis science at the moment.”

There are hundreds of varieties, called strains, which have been developed to express different qualities of the plant. So how does one figure out which strain to use? Janet Kupris, director of marketing at Summit explains, “Medical marijuana use is individualized and complex. The cannabis plant contains more than 400 chemical compounds—phytocannabinoids, flavonoids and turpenes. Determining which strains work best for you is an exploratory process that requires you to educate yourself, and we can help with that.”

The education process begins when a patient steps into the compassion center for the first time. Renee Harrington and Liz Minda, RN, conduct new patient orientations. Patients can set up a consultation appointment with Minda. One of 15 member liaisons are also available to answer questions and suggest recommendations.

Two species of the cannabis plant, the indica and the sativa, have particular medicinal value. Indica plants are relaxing, sedating and grounding. People tend to feel the greatest relief from indica plants physically or in the body. Conditions that respond well include anxiety, chronic pain, insomnia and muscle spasms. Sativa plants are uplifting, stimulating and energizing. People tend to feel the greatest relief from sativa plants mentally or in the head. It helps promote clear-mindedness, motivation, creativity and general feelings of mental well-being. Conditions that respond well to sativa include chronic pain, depression, lack of appetite, migraines and nausea.

Within each of these species there are hundreds of varieties, called strains, which have been developed to express different qualities of the plant. Many are hybrids, which carry some of the characteristics of both the indica and sativa species, and those medicines offer a balance of effects felt both in the body and in the mind. Such a strain might provide relaxation and relief from physical pain but allow one to be both productive and clear-minded.

Summit offers a variety of products for delivery into the body, including edibles, pre-rolls, cartridges, tinctures, oils, wax and capsules. A certified laboratory tests the botanicals, tinctures and oils for the percentages of THC and CBD. The center’s menu is constantly evolving to accommodate the needs of patients, and TV screens highlight daily specials. The center provides a compassion program for terminally-ill and minor patients, offering discount pricing.

To access medical marijuana in Rhode Island, patients must have a qualifying medical condition and a state-issued medical marijuana card. Patients and caregivers can find card applications on Summit’s website at or on the Department of Health website at If one is unable to find a referring physician (M.D. or DO) to fill out the certification form required in the application process, one can go to a third-party consulting firm, which will charge more for its services. Patients should start by asking their primary care physician or specialist to certify them. If this is a problem, a center staff member can provide a list of medical marijuana consulting companies upon request. The application process can take two to four weeks, however, it can be expedited for cancer patients. Other qualifying medical conditions are listed in the advertisement on page ??.

As part of the center’s caring culture, staff and patients collaborate in supporting a number of local charities through product sales proceeds and special events.

Location: 380 Jefferson Blvd. E2, Warwick. For more information, call 401 889-3990 or visit See ad, page ??.

Wendy Fachon is a regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. She teaches about the power of words and helps people share their remarkable stories and ideas through writing. Follow her new blog Writing with Wendy at