24 | Mara Gordon, Medicinal Cannabis Pioneer

The cannabis movement has come a long way in a short time, thanks to people like Mara Gordon. She has brought scientific discipline to the field, developing cannabis treatment protocols, quality standards, and an abiding compassion for patients with serious diseases.

If you have any interest in how cannabis helps fight disease, don’t miss this episode. We talks about her new-found fame as the central figure in the documentary Weed the People, recent developments with Mara’s company Aunt Zelda’s and much more. Time spent with Mara is time well-spent!

Transcript

Kannaboomers: (00:00)

Hey. It’s Tom. We’re back with another episode of the Kannaboomers podcast this week. I’m really excited to bring you an interview with Mara Gordon. Central figure in the documentary. “Weed the People.” And if you haven’t seen that yet, I strongly recommend that you do see it. It’s a great story about how medical cannabis can help young kids with pediatric cancer. Mara Gordon has an incredible brain for the science around this. So give this episode and listen. I think you’ll enjoy it. Enjoy the show

Kannaboomers: (00:25)

This is Let’s Talk About Weed, the Kannaboomers podcast, CBD micro dosing and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers, from San Diego. Here’s your host, Thomas J.

Kannaboomers: (00:40)

Welcome Mara. Thanks for being here and it’s great to have you. I guess we…

Mara: (00:43)

I’m happy to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Kannaboomers: (00:45)

I guess we’ll just jump in to the, uh, the documentary and tell people about how that came about for you and how it went for you.

Mara: (00:53)

Okay. Um, uh, well I want to say that like starting about, oh gosh, I guess it’s been about six years now cause it was like at the very beginning of 2013. Um, I was introduced to Christian Evans who was, um, uh, married to Ricki Lake at the time who has since passed away, uh, from mental illness. The man, unfortunately Christian, uh, committed suicide a couple of years ago from a, um, mental illness. Uh, anyway, he and Ricki, his wife were working on this documentary. Apparently this a little girl that had followed Ricki around when, as a fan when she was on Dancing With the Stars, had reached out to her. Um, uh, her mother did, she had a very serious disease and they were looking at using cannabis. Um, long story short, the, uh, family decided not to go that direction, but at that point it had sparked the interest from, uh, Ricki and her, you know, we always, we call her her work wife, Abby Epstein and the brilliant director to do this documentary on cannabis medicine and how it affects pediatric patients that are, that are dealing with the actual disease.

Mara: (02:17)

And the side effects of some of the standard treatments. And they asked me if they could, you know, watch me and help me treat these patients, uh, to say the least. That was a huge leap of faith. Um, I had been asked to be in, you know, numerous documentaries over the years because there’s not that many of us that have been around a long time doing science and doing medicine. So that, you know, I get asked a lot, not because I’m so great necessarily, but just because you know what, you know, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king, you know? And so I had asked, you know, obviously I had to trust them. Yeah. Which I did and we started the journey and then the film follows me and a number of my pediatric patients that we took our, our pediatric patients that we took care of for over five years.

Kannaboomers: (03:07)

Yeah. It’s a tear jerking kind of film. I mean, it’s not easy to watch. Mostly it’s a happy endings. Um, we don’t will spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but, uh, it’s, it’s really, uh, a message that needs to get out there.

Mara: (03:20)

Absolutely. Absolutely. So the, the thing about it is, is it nobody has ever died from cannabis. So it’s actually a very low risk, um, method or, or option for people to parents to try and with their children or anyone of any age for a loved one because there just simply is no fatal dose that we’re aware of at this point, especially if you have something that’s clean and you know, you’re not going to worry about toxicity. Uh, you know, as long as you’re using clean lab tested medicine that has no heavy metals, pesticides are, but you know, etcetera, then a, or you know, toxins you’re going to be okay. And these parents were desperate and took that leap of faith.

Kannaboomers: (04:00)

Right. Well, and as opposed to chemotherapy, which you know, can kill you.

Mara: (04:04)

Well, you know, chemotherapy is a nondiscriminatory, a killer, no question about that. Most of the chemotherapy drugs are designed to work on proliferating cells. Uh, yeah. And you know, unfortunately it’s not just cancer cells that proliferate your hair falls out because those are proliferating cells youth vomit because you’re, you’re a gastrointestinal digestive years is proliferating cells. So it’s nondiscriminatory. Uh, the reality is though that these, those people who have been diagnosed with cancer who are using standard protocols from the medical community, um, are smart to still do that, just do it and include or incorporate cannabis into the treatment protocol. We would never tell somebody not to use a standard treatments in conjunction. Uh, we’re big proponents of integrated, not alternative because first of all, there are studies that show that when you combine them, in some cases, the cannabinoids along with the chemotherapy drugs, that together they have a synergy that makes each of them work better than they would individually.

Mara: (05:18)

The other thing is you never want to hit something like cancer from one direction, especially on something that has only been tested at this point, um, definitively in mice and in Petri dishes. You know, we’re very, very good at killing cancer in mice. But you know, uh, mice does not mean that it’s going to be the same thing with humans and with over 200 different types of cancer and each one having its own genetic and cellular component to it. Um, just because it works on one person, even with the diagnosis isn’t a foregone conclusion that it’s going to work on the next one.

Kannaboomers: (05:52)

Right. There’s tons of anecdotal evidence, right, but right. In terms of clinical studies, there’s not that breadth of science that you would want.

Mara: (06:00)

Right. Well, let’s Donald Abraham says in the film, you know, uh, anecdotal times anecdotal does not mean a science. This means you have more anecdotal.

Kannaboomers: (06:08)

There is a need to be careful about overstating the healing potential of cannabis maybe.

Mara: (06:13)

Well, I really, absolutely and anyone who’s ever seen any of my talks or anything knows that I have this one slide that I show over and over and over again. I’ve been showing it for probably seven years now. That shows a snake oil salesman and a with an overlay of a circle and a red circle and cross because it is not a panacea. You know, if it, if you lose your arm, you’re not going to grow a new one. But if you talk to some people, uh, you don’t need anything but cannabis and if you have cannabis, you shouldn’t be using any other, any other treatments at all, and that is completely irresponsible, utterly irresponsible. Um, there are instances, for example, um, I can, I’ll just speak for myself, uh, because I would obviously keep any patient information. Um, uh, secret, you know, it’s private, but, um, I at one point was on 26 pharmaceuticals, including a fentanyl patch and Gabapentin and a number of others. And, uh, using, uh, cannabis, I was able to, uh, eliminate the need for 23 of them, but those three that I’m still using, I need those and I have to have them. And if I don’t have them, I’m in very, very serious danger physically. So, you know, I always am very grateful for all the pharmaceuticals that we have. I’m just not grateful for big Pharma and I don’t think the two should be confused. Cannabis is an amazing, amazing drug medicine, food, fiber, fuel, whatever it is you need it to be. If the one of the most amazing things about it, but it’s not a one that’s not for everything, the answer.

Mara: (07:55)

And so it’s important that people are, uh, incorporate it and try it and look at some of the options with it, but not say, I’m just going to do this and I’m not going to do that. And I really object to some of the bullying I see going on in social media when you’ll see parents and one of the parents in the film in particular had made the decision. I mean, they, all of those kids were on chemotherapy except for one that had to stop it for various reasons. But, um, uh, she was, uh, ha had her son on the chemotherapy, a protocol along with the cannabis and people were writing all sorts of disparaging things on her, on her Facebook page about how she was poisoning her son and all these things. And that’s just irresponsible and frankly nobody else’s business.

Kannaboomers: (08:41)

Right. You were taking 26 pharmaceuticals. Can you share your condition?

Mara: (08:45)

Sure. Um, I had had bacterial spinal meningitis back in 1996 that left me. I mean, there’s like a 2% survival for the type that I had. And so I was left with a myriad of health problems. Um, uh, for example, I had stage three kidney disease and my kidneys. Now we’re perfectly fine, uh, from, uh, taking the cannabis. When I started using cannabis, um, I was able to eliminate any of the other pharmaceuticals. And then when I have blood work done, my numbers are perfect. Um, I am a chronic chronic pain patient. I was in a wheelchair for a while. I used a walker. Um, I was in pretty bad shape. Now I am absolutely high functioning. Um, and I haven’t been on an opioid since a dash, I want to say 2007 now. Um, so haven’t taken a single one.

Mara: (09:42)

Uh, other than I think I, I think that while I had some surgery once they gave me some in the hospital without, without me even knowing it in my IV. But other than that, I’m fine. Um, uh, I do have the side effects and half into something like that, but, uh, now I’m able to do it with some, you know, there was some damage to my lungs and there was some damage, uh, to my thyroid from the treatment. And so those things unfortunately did not heal themselves all the way. So I still have to take some medicines for that.

Kannaboomers: (10:15)

That’s an amazing success stories though. Are you essentially self taught? How did you develop your knowledge around this?

Mara: (10:22)

Well, that’s a very good question. So when I first started this, there really was not a lot of information out there other than what didn’t work. Uh, because you know, there were no studies out there of what was working. It was what would doesn’t, other than with rare exception of a few here and there from, you know, ages ago, uh, like Michelle and from, you know, uh, you know, a couple of decades ago kind of thing. Um, so, uh, the very first thing I did was start going on forums. Now, this was before there was no Leafly. There was no, um, MJ magazine. There were nothing you had High Times, you know, with a bunch of naked women on the front with fig leaves or excuse me, pot leaves. And I mean that was about the extent of the thing. And I was only interested in the medical. So I started looking around through obviously the pub med and then laboriously, I mean, this is one instance where I’d have to say Wikipedia does a darn good job. If you look up the endocannabinoid system and then you click through and you read it and you click through every link, you’re going to get a pretty good starter information on understanding the vocabulary of it in some of the mechanisms of action. Um, my background, I’m a process engineer and I was interested in figuring out dosing and that’s been the part that I have always been focused on and still am. And that is solving the, the dosing questions so that this could be adopted as a full blown medicine into the medical community as a whole plant and not as an, uh, an isolet. So, um, I, from the very beginning, I started, uh, making it, weighing it, measuring it. We started lab testing at the very beginning of 2011, uh, back when, you know, there was really very little of that at the time, there wasn’t even really any available.

Mara: (12:07)

We were testing with Halan labs at the time, which was a scientist out of a biochemist out of um, UC Davis was doing it. So, uh, we were early on on collecting the data and seeing what worked and what didn’t and then we would track with, with the people using the oils what was working, what wasn’t working and started building up the data that way and learning from it and making it self learning so that we see it keeps getting smarter and smarter. And then the more people that we started treating for various diseases, we were able to then take and start extrapolating from the data what the best possibility of profiles would be based upon the medicinal values of the different terpenes and also the different cannabinoids. And then started ramping on the dosing and then started collecting and correlating the day, the dose, the number of milligrams of the cannabinoid per how many times a day. And figuring that out and figuring out if that was based on body weight or age or demographic, whatever the other demographic information was. Um, and so, I mean we’re still in a state of learning, but now we’re doing trials to validate a lot of the studies. For example, I started Zelda Therapeutics, um, a few years ago and we’re in phase two studies now on insomnia utilizing a formulation that I had created through Aunt Zelda’s and I had and it loads of anecdotal information about what was working and what wasn’t. And now we’re taking that very impressive anecdotal data and validating through clinical trial.

Kannaboomers: (13:46)

So you’re doing a ton of data analysis?

Mara: (13:49)

Absolutely.

Kannaboomers: (13:50)

And there’s a ton of data to be analyzed. So just a couple of things to try to pull the threads together. I mean when you talk about all the things that were wrong with you, with spinal meningitis and finding the right dose, finding that the correct terpenes, finding the correct medium, is it, is it smoking it as a taking it on an oil? There’s, there’s so many moving parts there. We’ve all heard about the homeostasis that occurs. When do you, when you balance out the endocannabinoid system, do we know how the healing happens or is it through that mechanism of balancing out your body?

Mara: (14:25)

So it’s the endocannabinoid system. It’s not that you’re balancing out the endocannabinoid system. It’s the endocannabinoid system’s job to balance out the body.

Kannaboomers: (14:36)

Okay.

Mara: (14:36)

So, which is a little different because it’s, its role is to create homeostasis within the body. Or at least we believe that’s what it is. Um, I don’t know that anybody has actually definitively said that or if it’s just a theory anymore than Ethan Russo’s theory of endocannabinoid deficiency. I hear people talking about it as if it’s a defacto thing and it’s a theory. Um, there has been no measurement yet done on, on, you know, living people have, whether their endocannabinoid deficient and whether that’s responsible for disease. Um, so we do know, uh, through, you know, just other, uh, other mechanisms, what the purposes are of different terpenes as far as their effect on you. For example, let’s use linalool when a little is found in lavender. Lavender is used for relaxation and calm. Correct. And you know, anyone that goes for a massage, the pillow usually is sprayed with a light lavender essential oil or something. Um, so to calm you, they may have a diffuser in the room to calm you. And so having a, a cannabis based product that has linalool, it as an example is, you know, at any kinds of uh, uh, uh, above and nano, um, amount would have some sort of a calming effect. So you start adding and you start looking at the profile of these products, uh, after you get your lab results and you’re able to determine from looking at them what the chances are of how the it’s going to affect you. The other thing is at this point, um, you know, you look at the genetics and the insanity of the way that these names, the naming of these, these products or these, these, uh, cultivars makes no sense. So you have to look at the genetic lineage to find out if it comes from like an Afghani or if it comes from um, another one that’s getting, either have a very somnolent or very uplifting effect. And based upon understanding that on the lab result, you can do a pretty good job of predicting how a person is going to respond to it.

Kannaboomers: (16:41)

Okay. Does that make sense? So you do have to look at the cultivar and who knows if sour diesel is going to do this or that. But once you know it’s a genetic back onto the plant and you can begin to predict the effects, it might have,

Mara: (16:53)

Well, interesting that you should use sour diesel as an example. And the reason I say it’s interesting is because it originates right here in Sonoma county where I am and if it, in fact you can look at a lab results and know if it’s really sour diesel or if it’s something else that they just put the sour diesel name on because they think it will sell better. Um, so that’s part of it also is there is no um, requirement right now that the name actually matched the genetics of the plant. But let’s say it is a sour diesel and let’s say that with the lab results prove out that it is, if that is the case, then we can then look at that and say, okay, if this is a sour diesel and you have uh, you know, OCD or PTSD or you know, basically just, you know, you tend to run a little faster, a little ADHD, whatever then a ADHD or ADD, then it’s probably going to be the perfect, uh, um, cultivar to help, uh, focus you. If you are somebody like me who doesn’t have that, I use it and it makes me feel like I’ve taken speed. So on one group of people that’s going to calm them down and another group of people, it’s going to amp up. And you know that over time and through experience, which is why I always tell people to start very, very low and increase so that you don’t have a bad experience. Because if it’s not the right one for you, then go to something else. But you have loads of other options

Kannaboomers: (18:23)

And that complicates it a little because it is a personalized medicine and everybody may have a different reaction to different cultivars.

Mara: (18:31)

That is true, but I cannot stress enough the fact that all medicine is custom medicine and then people will have different effects and different responses. Um, it’s, it’s, you know, people say, Oh, this, you know, it can never be dosed because, you know, doctors won’t know how much to give you, but anyone who’s ever been on an SSRI or a pain medication or, um, a thyroid medicine or hormone replacement, all of those things can tell you that they have a medicine cabinet filled with ones that they bought that they tried once or twice or even for a week and they didn’t work. And then the doctor put him on something else. The only difference is in this case, the doctor doesn’t know how many drops are milligrams or, or, or grams for you to take of it. See the difference. But they, all medicine is bespoke medicine. Otherwise, we would only have one chemo drug, one painkiller, one SSRI, one thyroid, one hormone, you name it. We would only have one if it worked for everybody.

Kannaboomers: (19:34)

Yeah, that’s a great distinction because people speak of cannabis as if it’s the only herb, only medicine in which that’s the case.

Mara: (19:42)

Right. It’s just not, and because it’s whole plant, if there’s not, if I actually am a big proponent of whole plant, um, and if, if, because it’s whole plant. It’s not, you’re not, you’re going to get sick and, and puke long before you ever would have any kind of toxicity. Whereas if you’re, when you’re using isolates and things like that, then you have problems with the potential of overdose, et cetera. I don’t know if people overdosed from, uh, when they were eating poppies when it was the full plant or if they, or if they got sick before they had a chance to overdose. But when it’s synthesized, then you have problems.

Kannaboomers: (20:22)

So with an isolate, you might get too much of a, of a molecule that is mediated by other molecules.

Mara: (20:28)

Well, the thing you’ll certainly wish you, you were dead. You probably won’t still die, but you’ll wish you did for a few hours anyway. Um, there aren’t any a known receptors where let’s, let’s say there are no receptors that are just in the brainstem of their own to activate. However, we don’t know what happens if there’s a tumor or something in the brainstem, if there is in fact their proliferation of, of, um, cannabinoid receptors in us for us to target. So, uh, we still have a lot we need to learn.

Kannaboomers: (21:00)

Yeah. It’s up to each person to, to approach this with an open mind and, and sort of experimentally, I’m going to try this. I’m going to test and learn this cultivar, this cultivar, this method.

Mara: (21:09)

Right. You know, when I first tried cannabis back in the early seventies, I hated it. I thought it was awful. I couldn’t understand what the big to do was. It made me paranoid. It made me feel insecure. It made me feel, I mean, I just hated everything about it. And, you know, all the kids were all passing around joints from, you know, what we used to Mexican ditch weed, which is what we used to get back in Texas. And uh, I just thought it was awful and I tried it and you know, from time to time over the years, like probably a handful of times and 30 years and still didn’t get what the whole big deal was. And then when I tried it for pain and I took like two puffs off, uh, uh, a woman I know she had, she was visiting me and she was, I was making her go out in the garage to smoke cause I didn’t want that nasty thing in my house.

Mara: (22:03)

Um, the irony of that is unreal, but, um, I sent her out in the garage so you know, no one would know. And um, I went out there and I took uh two puffs off of her little pink pipe and, uh, uh, I was just furious because my pain, I was few thrilled, but my pain went away. But I was furious that nobody had told me that this was an option. So the next time I did it with her, I took a, we were just, we were talking and I wasn’t paying attention and I took four and it was too much and it was that old horrible feeling I used to have. Um, and this time I said, okay, I am going to just pay attention to this and see if I can figure out what it is that people love about this so much because I’m still not getting it. And, but then I realized, and this was that Aha moment of clarity that shifted everything for me, that, that, that it was the medicine. It wasn’t me. And as long as I focused on the feeling I was having that I didn’t really like very much that too much psycho activity, not just a little to get rid of the pain, but to the point where I felt dissociative and I realized that that was about the medicine and that I was fine. And as soon as it wore off, I’d be back to me. It didn’t bother me anymore. And it’s never bothered me since,

Kannaboomers: (23:27)

That’s a good trick. I think a lot of our listeners identify with that story are interested in, you know, taking the smallest dose and just seeing how it goes. We all remember being in college and getting too stoned or something and you know, as adults you have to be responsible and, but you get to a point where maybe you don’t want to drink alcohol, maybe you need to relax, maybe you have pain, maybe you have insomnia, inflammation, so many things that this plant can address.

Mara: (23:55)

Right. You know, one of the saddest things for me, Tom, is when somebody says to me, Oh, I tried it and I didn’t like it. Or oh, I tried it and it was awful. Or Oh, I tried it and it didn’t work. Because if you’ve tried one, you’ve tried one and there are thousands of different options for you. Not only in the actual profile of the medicine itself, but in the delivery methodology in the, you know, whether it’s a tincture or a sublingual olive oil or whether it’s a gummy bear or whether you smoke it or whether you use it as a transdermal patch. There are so many different ways to, uh, use this same product or the same medicine in different types of products that, you know, maybe the sour diesel gummy bear wasn’t right for you. But that doesn’t mean that the granddaddy purple topical won’t be. So people, I will, I would, you know, I would urge people to keep an open mind when they’re set looking at products and one does not work well for them or it’s not the profile they want or it’s not the experience that they’re looking for that they just marked down that they don’t use that one again, but not automatically assume that if you’ve tried one, you’ve tried them all.

Kannaboomers: (25:11)

Right. You’re a data scientist, so that’s how you come at it and it does make sense. I’ve interviewed someone who makes, you know, journals, cannabis journals, where you can jot down exactly what the conditions were, what else might’ve been going on, how much you took and in what form is the Cultivar, all that stuff, which is definitely worth tracking.

Mara: (25:30)

You know, one of the things I think that’s interesting that’s come out of we the people is, um, you know, uh, anybody that knows me knows that. I mean, I, I would rather I’d rather educate than do just about anything in the world other than to, you know, be one on one talking to, uh, uh, the kids that I’ve helped to take care of. And the other, you know, people of all ages I’m going to have taking care of pregnant women and I’ve taken care of, you know, 98 year old, uh, uh, men and women as well. So, I mean, everything in between, um, is that they, there is a, the “Weed the People” showed how much people were depending on somebody in their kitchen, but the difference between what I was doing and your average person in their kitchen as I was applying science at the same time, you know, at the, you know, so that we were, we were starting it from that point, but I kept saying, I don’t want this in my hands.

Mara: (26:29)

I want this in the hands of the medical community. It shouldn’t be me. It should be science. It should be chemists and biologists and botanists and medical professionals all working to figure this out. And, uh, I think that we’ve done a pretty good job of getting that message across. And the film has certainly given us a larger audience to do that. I know that Ricki Lake was on the view, I believe last week or something recently. And Megan McCain, uh, mentioned how she had wished that her father had had access to this. And sadly I had reached out to him through a mutual, a friend and he didn’t want anything to do with it. So, you know, there’s a lot of things that this movie is going to do. A lot of hearts and minds are going to be open. We have a lot of work to do and you know, uh, destigmatizing, uh, especially those people who grew up yeah. During D.A.R.E. And grew up during the whole prohibitionist, uh, propaganda since the 1930s

Kannaboomers: (27:38)

Almost a hundred years of propaganda to, to overcome. I saw some feature, some stats last week that said, the millennials are more in favor of legalization than baby boomers, which surprised me a little bit. I guess when there’s a concerted effort to put out that much misinformation over the many decades, it’s going to take a while to overturn people’s opinions.

Mara: (27:59)

I mean, I just think of the frying pan. You know what the egg, this is your brain on drugs. Well, you know what? It’s not true. It’s just not true. This is my brain when I don’t have it in a way to get out of, out of, out of pain, or this is my brain when I’m having an anxiety attack. Or this is my brain when I’m have, when I’m absolutely freaking out and then let me put something in there to help calm it all down. And that’s cannabis, right? So, you know, when they did the fry the egg like that, if they had then, you know, put a lid on it, that would have been the lid. They should’ve been added a lid anyway to update myself.

Kannaboomers: (28:40)

And when you filmed this six years ago, it was a different landscape in terms of how many states were legal and the whole underground nature of it. I mean, it’s slowly coming above ground and as you said, it’s going to take a lot of work. But what excites you about where we’re at today?

Mara: (28:55)

Well, one of the things, interestingly enough that I’m excited about is the Farm Bill. I’m excited about the fact that, uh, that people are having access to hemp based products, um, in parts of the country and parts of the world where, uh, they’re still, for whatever reason, this, you know, this silly fear against actually having a feeling from THC. Um, so I’m excited about the transformation and the cultivars that I’ve seen over the last probably five years. Well not even then, let’s say maybe three years. Uh, when I first was in this and people would talk about hemp versus cannabis as far as, you know, sourcing for medicine. Most of the hemp you saw, you know, there may have been 5% CBD in it and then a whole bunch of cellulose and other junk. Now they’re creating these much more robust profiles that they’ve developed, you know, through reading programs so that they have these cultivars that are, that can be grown as row crops to be able to get products into the mainstream. And I think what that’s going to do is I think that’s going to free up the licensed channels, which is like where I am, um, for, uh, focusing more on the higher, um, on some of the other cannabinoids like the higher THC and THC-V and CBG and CBGA in, in the raw cannabinoids that we can work with. I’m very excited about the fact that there’s a lot more groups that are coming out with a new ways of delivering the medicine. For example, I had a call a little while ago with a company that’s doing a, a nano encapsulation. Uh, they’re using a non synthetic emulsifier so that it actually does stay blended. And, uh, this is good for Earl for a very, very fast onset. Um, for example, if you have somebody who’s in severe chronic pain, uh, and they’re, you know, and they’re not able to get it under control or they have an instance that makes it to where it’s, you know, uh, they’re in crisis, they can use something that has a, you know, 30 second to 15 minute onset.

Mara: (31:08)

Um, and then at the same time take something that has a slower build, you know, more of like an hour to take effect. And then that has a, you know, six to eight hour timeframe for giving them release. So it’s the, it’s the myriad of products that are out there. It’s not just, you know, when I first started this, the only reason I started doing any of this is because there was nothing out there. I went to a dispensary and it was the big, huge, beautiful, fancy dispensary and they had a lot of flower and they had, um, Rice Krispie treats and brownies and caramel corn. And I think that’s about all they had. Now you can get these really well dosed products. Um, I’m working with a company called, uh, Gabby where we’re offering all the way full spectrum across from him better, you know, from wellness products, healthy foods, wellness products with low dose of, of hemp based, uh, uh, for the conventional marketplace so that somebody can go into, uh, their supermarket potentially and buy it and be able to know that it’s also well made and lab tested. And then continuing of course, doing all of our research and our products on our Aunt Zelda side of things. So I’m just excited about being able to get this to be in everybody’s medicine cabinet, whether they’re in a legal state or not.

Kannaboomers: (32:30)

And we should say, the most exciting news that you have came today?

Mara: (32:33)

Yes, yes. So, um, we have been in uh under, we have been operating in the state of California and Sonoma counties since, uh, January. Um, let’s see, it was January of 2018, uh, going to back to 2017 when it was issued under prop 64. We’ve been operating under something called a penalty relief and that was they, they had a program for companies such as mine. We were a mutual benefit nonprofit corporation that had been in compliance with the compassionate use act. Uh, those of us that were operating, you know, as good players and paying taxes and paying taxes on our employees and workman’s comp and not being an illegal facilities and things like that. We were able to continue operating while the state figured out the licensing process. Well, it has been a nightmare in California because, uh, we were all given like three months, a temporary under penalty relief and that has been renewed a over and over and over again with a notice going out in January. I believe it was uh saying, there will be no more renewals. So we’re all looking around going in three months, we’re all going to be out of business or we’re going to be black market we’ll be, we’ll not, we won’t operate as black market, but we will no longer be a legally compliant company. Well today was my hearing, um, and Sonoma County and we were issued our five year uh use permit to continue to operate as a cannabis business as a type six manufacturer in Sonoma County. And so now the state will just uh stamp that and we will have our full license.

Kannaboomers: (34:20)

Talk about a relief. I mean, what a weight off your shoulders.

Mara: (34:24)

What I mean, because we’re a manufacturer. Um, it’s not like, you know, we’re just got a bunch of people sitting there with scissors, trimming bud, you know, we have a huge capital expenditures for equipment and security and all sorts of things and the amount of money that we’ve been spending and uh reticent to spend on faith that we would get the license now that’s removed and now we can just, you know, full steam ahead.

Kannaboomers: (34:52)

That’s a lot of stress to get all your financing and get your equipment and not know if you’re going to be licensed.

Mara: (34:58)

Right. It’s crazy. Exactly, exactly. It’s like, it’s like planning a wedding and setting the date and having, you know, the cake and the orchestra and the flowers and the dress and the and everything and then not knowing if you’ve met your soulmate yet, hoping that by that date you’ve got someone to marry.

Kannaboomers: (35:16)

Well, congratulations on getting licensed. And then what does that mean for consumers in California? Can they look for, are we talking about Aunt Zelda’s that they can find in their dispensary or

Mara: (35:28)

They’ve already been, well the, the outcome was we will now be now we’ll see. We’ll keep expanding. Um, Aunt Zelda’s has been available a nonstop. We not stopped having that be the case. Um, uh, our websites, we had some, uh, somebody that did a malicious redirect yesterday, so unfortunate, I hope it’s back up today. Uh, but, uh, we were already available in a numb- through a number of dispensaries and delivery services up in northern California. But, uh, we also are available statewide in California through True Pharma’s website. You can, um, you can go to True Pharma and you can see what they have in inventory. You can go to Aunt Zelda’s website under products and it’ll show you where things are. And if you have a place that you need to have it that’s closer to you, um, and you don’t want delivery, you know, ask your dispensary, uh, to start carrying it it, cause we’re really ramping it up.

Kannaboomers: (36:22)

So what sort of menu of products do you have? You know, say you have a person of a certain age who has a certain kind of cancer, how do, how do you know what to select?

Mara: (36:31)

Uh, well, that’s a very good question. If somebody has a very serious disease like cancer, we usually recommend that they have a consult with a doctor and they do it under medical or a or a nurse and do it under medical supervision. Uh, because you don’t want to, you want to also be careful of things like potential interactions with some of your pharmaceuticals, um, on timing, especially if you have things like people that are taking immunotherapy drugs and all that. More and more you have people that are using immunotherapies to fight cancers and we just do not have enough information yet to know how they interact. So we have a very specific way in the way that we recommend that a person take their cannabis based medicines along with immunotherapies. Having said that though, um, you know, cannabis is a very forgiving medicine. Even if you take it wrong, it can still be helpful because there is no such thing as wrong.

Mara: (37:25)

It’s just not as right. Um, you take uh, somebody who is of a certain age and you know, I’m going to say a certain age somewhere up in there in like in their sixties, and they have uh, let’s say they have stage two ERPR positive breast cancer. Let’s just put it like right there. I would start that person on probably a one to one, uh, um, uh, formulation. And based upon what their, uh, previous cannabis experiences, I would start titrating them up, um, pretty quickly. Cause anytime you’ve got someone with cancer, you don’t want to take your time, you want to go as fast as you possibly can without making the person miserable and keep going until they’re body was not able to any longer acclimate to it. And then you back off to the previous place where you could acclimate. But somebody in their sixties with stage two that has, you know, has some experience and is not an, you know, not inverse or are frightened by it. Um, you know, they may end up in a hundred milligrams of cannabinoids of each, uh, or they may or they may get to 50 and not be able to go any further or they may go to 500 stay, I’m fine. Um, but a one to one is going to be really helpful for that. Yeah.

Kannaboomers: (38:40)

And you’re talking CBD to THC.

Mara: (38:42)

Well actually I’m always talking THC to CBD, but I always put THC first and CBD is second because that’s the way it appears on lab results. And so that’s the way I always do it on the labeling as well. But yes, I am talking about one to one of the major cannabinoids. Um, in that case, um, and, and you know, you, you’re not going to go wrong. I would have you do, you know, often in what I had with the kids like you see in the film is these kids are using the extract, uh, which is highly concentrated in some cases are our extracts are in excess of 800 milligrams of primary cannabinoid in a gram of oil. Um, but if you have somebody who’s got whose daily dose is, uh, you know, they take 300 milligrams twice a day or something crazy like that or 300 milligrams of THC and 200 milligrams of CBD or a hundred 50th CBD is something like that that, and if you’re taking something that’s got 10 milligrams per milliliter in it, that’s a heck of a lot of oil. So you don’t want somebody having to take so much olive oil or so much volume. So by having it in the extract, we’re able to get a high level of concentration in a much smaller dose. So somebody could take a very small volume of medicine, you know, put it on a piece of rice paper, stick it under your tongue or between your cheek and your gum and let it dissolve. And that’s how the higher dose patients tend to take it. Okay.

Kannaboomers: (40:07)

Okay. What you were talking about earlier with some of the nano formulation. So does that give you the option of delivering a higher dose in a smaller package?

Mara: (40:16)

You know, that’s a very, very good question. And I’m not sure yet. And I’m not sure, frankly, that if I was, uh, if, uh, somebody my own personal loved one or somebody I loved, and I, and I would say the same thing to obviously to anybody since I’m saying it on the radio, so to speak, but, um, I would not use those products, uh, for cancer treatments. Um, I would use those products for, um, things like, you know, pain, nausea, anxiety, uh, maybe sleep, maybe recreational, that sort of thing. But when you’re starting to, when you’re trying to treat a systemic disease, you don’t want to mess around. Um, and not only that, you want something that’s going to be, um, in effect with a blood level consistently within your body. So you’re going to want something that, the same reason I don’t recommend smoking if you are treating cancer, because yes, smoking has the highest bioavailability, but it has the shortest time frame. So you want him to have something that’s in the blood consistent over hours and hours and hours. And so I would use, um, some of the other, now I have to see the PK studies and I have to see some of the, uh, uh, bioavailability studies on some these nano, uh, encapsulation. Uh, I hear, I mean it’s, you know, a few years ago it was CBD, CBD, CBD and then it was CBG everything. And now those THC-V everything. And now this is the new buzz thing, you know, and transdermal where the bus, everything is like a cyclical buzz, whatever products or you know, rushing to get to market with everybody with their patents and there, you know, and what they do is better and different than everybody else. But I, you know, I take a scientific approach to it. Data driven and I need to see the studies, I need to see the science and then I need to see it double blind tested in humans.

Kannaboomers: (42:11)

That make sense? Has “Weed the People” open doors for you? Are you getting calls? Has, has it increased your fame?

Mara: (42:20)

Well, um, it has, it increased my fame? One of the things that’s interesting about it is I would have to say yes, um from the standpoint that, um, uh, as more and more people see it, people are like, uh, you know, I have been recognized a few times, which is kind of an interesting thing. I got on, uh, uh, not too long ago, I got on the, uh, airport, uh, airporter express to go from Sonoma County to uh San Francisco airport and a woman, uh, went to pay the guy and she turned around and she noticed I was in the seat behind her. And of course that was the end of the trip. I heard, I had talked to me the whole time, which is fine because she was telling me about her health and her issues and all, and I’m always happy to, you know, be of service where I can, but, you know, that was kind of a weird experience for me because I’m basically, well, I am, I’m an introvert who puts on a facade in order to educate and go out and be in public. So it’s not my, I wasn’t looking for fame, you know. Um, has it opened doors? What it has done is it has opened eyes and hearts of people who may in the past have dismissed me. Uh, I remember going to a, an investor, uh, conference that I don’t normally go to those things. But I’ve been asked to come, uh, because they wanted me to be talking about methods of extraction and, uh, just, you know, as an educational panel. And there was a gentleman there that I have seen, Gosh, a dozen times or more, we’ve sat, you know, five feet from each other kind of thing over the years. And He, his eyes would glaze over past me as if I didn’t even exist. And all of a sudden he’s my best friend, you know, it’s like, oh, Mara, you know. And then other people have said to me, you know, I always knew you were a badass, but now I really know you are.

Mara: (44:25)

So, you know, things like that. I think that it also gives a little bit more street credit to the fact that not, um, I’ve been in this business a long time, but I am not like I’m, I’m not a hippy dippy. And I think that people understand that I have the street credit of the fact that I, I, I learned it all and I came up learning it all through, um, you know, self taught through, you know, self sacrifice and all the things that those of us that worked under the compassionate use act did. And then the fact that I’ve made it through legalization, especially now that I actually, today I’m officially made it through. Um, uh, I think it surprised people because I’m not some corporate person with a marketing background who is white-labeling somebody other’s product. Uh, so they see that we’re the real deal. Um, I think that once it’s on Netflix that it’s going to get, cause it’s on iTunes and Google play and I dunno, um, uh, Amazon and some other ways you can get it now. But I think when that goes on Netflix, I think that’s going to be the big, uh, the big game changer as far as how many people will see it.

Kannaboomers: (45:40)

Well, yeah, I think it is on Amazon Plus, I’ve been telling people to watch it there and it certainly deserves a wide audience. And I think the scene you were describing there, there was a scene, something like that towards the end of the film where there was a conference and uh, yeah, all of a sudden there’s people who see the money to be made here are gravitating towards it. But you’ve had the singular focus for a long time just on the healing potential of this and, and letting the world though and using the mind of a data scientist to, um, put together the right formulations like we talked about in the beginning. There’s, there’s a lot of data to be sorted here. So you’re exactly the right person to to, to bring that focus.

Mara: (46:17)

Well, thank you for saying that. That means a lot to me because you know, it’s what I’ve seen so much in this, in the evolution of this space. And I think that it’s some of that scene in the film unfortunately is, you know, there’s nothing wrong with making money at this if in fact when I see people posting on, you know, all sorts of social media and whatnot, and they’ll, and they’ll say things like, oh, it all should be free and everybody should have access. And I’m like, okay, great. So I’m spending $1 million on equipment to be able to make this doing all the things that I have to do, jumping through all the hoops, millions of dollars in things to be compliant and get this done. And then I’m supposed to give it all away. Okay. I could, if I had $1 million, I could do that once. But what are you going to do for your second round of medicine?

Kannaboomers: (47:09)

You know, this is how the world works and it’s how pharmacology works. You, you have to have capital. And like you said, there’s nothing wrong with making money. That’s what motivates people to change the world.

Mara: (47:19)

Exactly. And it’s like, it’s not my personal motivation, but if I’m not able to be self-sustaining, then I would be, I’d have all the great intentions in the world and no ability to carry them out. On the other hand, it’s the people that I have a hard time with are the ones who really have no, um, nothing unique or, uh, that they’re bringing to it other than a fancy label and marketing piece and uh deep pockets. So, you know, you go to the average event and you walk around and you go from booth to booth and you ask the most people what their backgrounds are and far too many of them have marketing backgrounds and far too few of them have science or engineering or data backgrounds.

Kannaboomers: (48:09)

I hear you. And I’m, I’m a marketer so…

Mara: (48:11)

Well, you understand what I mean then. You might have the most beautiful label in the world, the gorgeous, you know, and then what’s inside the products though

Kannaboomers: (48:19)

Right. It needs to be tested. You need to have a clean product. All the things that we’ve talked about that can help solve problems have to come first.

Mara: (48:27)

Exactly. And there’s a place for, you know, I actually, I’d give, I gave this talk a couple of times once in Columbia and once it at a YPO event on, um, you know, all the different entry points to this industry that there are, whether it’s through legal or accounting or marketing or branding or PR or farming or lab testing or packaging or transportation and on and on and on. There’s like no part of the economy that cannot be done. Whether you’re even a teacher that could be done through the cannabis space. So stay in your lane.

Kannaboomers: (49:08)

Stay in your lane, bro.

Mara: (49:09)

And you know what I mean? Just stay in your lane. Yeah. I mean, you can be in this space, but do it with what you knew, know. You know, you don’t, you know, everybody, you know, every athlete I talked to has a product, you know, and every, uh, every, you know, sick child’s parent thinks that they’re a, you know, a cannabis expert. It’s like, come on, stay in your lane

Kannaboomers: (49:30)

There’s room on the bandwagon, but at least know a little bit about what you’re talking about. And there’s, there’s plenty of room for everybody to jump on.

Mara: (49:37)

Absolutely.

Kannaboomers: (49:38)

Well, Mara, I want to thank you for taking the time on a momentous day for you. Congratulations again on, on getting licensed and tell us where we can find you online besides watching the movie.

Mara: (49:49)

Okay. I’m going to actually, I’m going to go on my computer right here and see if we’re still down before I okay. With auntzeldas.org is the website and I think it might still be down, so please give it another chance if it’s down today. Yeah, it’s, we’re having problems, uh, on this redirect there. There are server people are working as fast as they can to get it back up. We took everything down so that nothing would get, uh, uh, destroyed. Of course, all of our data is on its own server sitting in a box in a, you know, under lock and key and guard. 

Kannaboomers: (50:25)

Did you say- was there a, was there a malicious attack? You said somebody came after you?

Mara: (50:29)

It’s called a malicious redirect. Um, and it’s like you would go to us and it would take you somewhere else. So it actually wasn’t going into our site. Uh, fortunately everything was safe on ours and backed up and, and, and secured. It’s just, we’re having a little bit of, you know, all the little troubles getting it back up again. But auntzeldas.org you can also, in the meantime, if anybody would want to reach out to us, they can write us too at Info at info@auntzeldas.org send us an email and we’ll be happy to help you out that way because of course our email servers are all still up sells.

Kannaboomers: (51:06)

Sounds terrific

Mara: (51:06)

Well, thank you so much.

Kannaboomers: (51:08)

You’ve been listening to, “Let’s Talk About Weed” the Kannaboomers podcasts with Thomas J. For more on medicinal cannabis for baby boomers. Visit us at kannaboomers.com

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