Meet the Cannabis Science Conference Fall Speakers: Dr. Travis Poonai on His Pharmacist Journey, Patient Trends, and Practitioner Experiences

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Let’s meet Cannabis Science Conference Fall speaker Dr. Travis Poonai, a pharmacist with a specialty in medical cannabis.

Cannabis Science Conference (CSC) Fall will be taking place in Providence, Rhode Island September 20-22nd. CSC Fall features several exciting tracks: analytical science, cultivation, medical cannabis, and psychedelics. With expert speakers coming in from around the country, we thought it was a great opportunity to introduce some of them and get a sneak peek into their presentations. Let’s meet Dr. Travis Poonai, a pharmacist with a specialty in medical cannabis. As a pharmacist for several years in retail pharmacy and current clinical director in Maryland, Dr. Poonai is passionate about serving the community. He collectively uses his skills as a healthcare practitioner and a graduate of the Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program at the University of Maryland to educate and guide the patients he serves, as well as to advocate for health professionals within the cannabis space. Dr. Poonai is participating as a speaker on an exciting panel discussion in the medical track at Cannabis Science Conference Fall titled “Clinical Directors, Navigating Legalization and Beyond” taking place Thursday, September 21st. Here, Dr. Poonai shares his background as a pharmacist and how he got involved with medical cannabis as well as a preview of what to expect from his exciting panel discussion!

Can you tell us about your background and how you got involved with medical cannabis?

Dr. Travis Poonai: Yes. So, I have long since been a proponent for cannabis in general. Initially, we hadn't realized the potential for cannabis in my early days. Of course, getting into college, a career in natural medicines or alternative therapies was pretty much unheard of. So, what I ended up doing was asking myself how I could bridge this gap. I wanted to learn why cannabis or why even other alternative medicines are not respected or at least taken as seriously as traditional or “Western medicines.” So, I decided to go to pharmacy school and see if there was a way for me to bridge that gap. Of course, life takes its course, and I worked in traditional pharmacy venues, retail pharmacy, in total for about 16 years, but as a pharmacist for about 10 years. I wasn’t really doing much with my passion—it just kind of was on the side and I wondered if there would ever be a day to focus on it. We never thought there would be. Then one of my pharmacy intern students mentioned to me that the University of Maryland was going to offer a Master's degree in medicinal cannabis. This was a calling. This couldn't have been meant for anybody but me, right? So, I went home that very day and I filled out that application. I did pursue the Master's in medical cannabis. So since then, I've left traditional retail, and I currently work as a Clinical Director for a multistate operator (MSO). I primarily represent our stores in the state of Maryland. That’s my journey coming full circle, from wanting to do something, not having an opportunity in the beginning and bridging that gap that I ultimately wanted to do.


What are you most looking forward to at the upcoming Cannabis Science Conference Fall?

Dr. Poonai: As we all know, various states and state programs differ. I've been to the Cannabis Science Conferences that had taken place in Baltimore in the past, and this year it will be in Rhode Island, so it'll be interesting to network and see the perspectives of some of these other state programs and some of the representatives that will be there.

Can you give us a preview of what you'll be sharing on the Clinical Directors Navigating Legalization and Beyond panel discussion?

Dr. Poonai: Yeah, absolutely. First, I should probably qualify or back it up a little bit. The definition of a Clinical Director in the state of Maryland is an official role or title. But essentially, this extrapolates to all health care practitioners within the cannabis space. So, myself, as well as a few of my colleagues (most are from Maryland, but some are from states that have seen either the transition from medical only to medical and adult use or haven't had that transition) will be speaking upon our experiences in what we've seen in the patient trends and the experiences we've had as practitioners.

Stay tuned for more with Dr. Travis Poonai with our live video conference coverage taking place September 21-22, 2023 or join us in person to hear Dr. Poonai and his colleagues’ panel discussion as well as many others at the Cannabis Science Conference Fall in Providence, RI. Register today with code EARLYBIRD to save 30%:!