Dina Browner, a pioneer of the medical marijuana movement, participates in the Third International Cannabis Social Forum, held in Irun under the Fair Expogrow.
“I think cannabis prevents abuse of medicines in sick people,” says Dr. Dina.
Dina Browner (Los Angeles, 1975), better known as Dr. Dina in the United States, is the pioneer of the medical marijuana movement in Southern California. For years she has been the advisor to hundreds of Hollywood stars, among which is the famous rapper Snoop Dogg, who gave her nickname. She was also the inspiration for the character of Nancy Botwin in Weeds television series and Rolling Stone revue named her the ‘Queen of medical marijuana in Los Angeles California‘. She started in the world in 2002 when she tried to help a friend with cancer, for shortly after opening its first specialized California medical marijuana consultation. She has been a consultant and advisor of the first clinics in West Hollywood. But undoubtedly her greatest achievement has been to launch an aid program which provides free medical marijuana to the sick and needy.
What is the aid program, you have helped to create?
The program is called Compassion (compassion), because we have compassion for the person who is sick and we are going to give you something for free. This program was created because California law is very lax and allowed to cultivate for their own consumption, as they are not large amounts. However, if you have a dispensary or collective medical marijuana you can buy like a Cannabis Club. So if you want to grow more quantity, clubs can authorize someone to cultivate medical marijuana for their patients, and in our case, there are many people who want to grow for us. What we do is, “OK, if you want to grow for me, I authorize you, but you have to provide me with free medical marijuana to 25 of my patients every month.” And I finally got it to find those people who are very sick and give it totally free. Thus, they are growing for those legally and we are really helping people who are suffering a lot.
And this is because today there is a loophole, but do you think this may change someday?
To better or worse?
(Laughs) Both. Because there are two different problems. You have medical marijuana and then you have the legal recreational marijuana. I believe in the consumption of both. I think anyone should be able to smoke a joint, but I also believe that if you are sick there is nothing better than cannabis. So you should have essentially two different ways to provide marijuana to two types of people.
What happens to us now is that the only difference between the two types is taxes. That is, if “recreational” you have to pay between 10% and 30% more, which can be very expensive but hey is good. However, is it okay to be so expensive that people will buy from the street, so both the black market? This means that buy in bad shape and we do not want that. So what we’re trying to do is make it easy for people to be happy because it is legal, the rates are not very high, and also with the Compassion program ensure we help sick patients.
How many people can you get to help with this program?
In fact the city of West Hollywood is the one in charge of the program. If you’re sick, you have a prescription from your doctor and do not have money, you go to the council and say you need free medicine and you get a card you keep giving coupons which you can get what you need in a month. By state law in California and West Hollywood, we have donated over 4,000 grams per month free.
So we can not calculate how many people. If they come many who are very sick I have to give them less, and that’s why, so that those who cultivate, they can work with me, they have to give me to 25 people very sick, who are those terminals. And to everyone else who left us depending on the severity.
Why do you consider so important cannabis use in some patients?
I think if at any time you can ease someone’s pain is a good thing. Often drugs which give them help them, but they also damage other organs. Also many people are hooked on pills, which is bad for their liver or kidney, and we want them out of that. In fact, I think cannabis prevents abuse of medicines in sick people.
And what do you think about the overall situation of the legalization of cannabis in the United States?
Look at USA’s like looking at Europe, the situation in each country is very different. In California you can only use medical marijuana, but if the police stop me and I have 7 grams will not go to jail. It is not a felony, you just get a ticket. But if I take more than an ounce (about 28 grams) we’re talking about prison. And that’s the problem, that an ounce is not that much, at least for me. Because it is so I can easily smoke me in a week (laughs). But if I travel beyond two states, for example California to Texas, it is completely illegal. In fact I have family there and when they see my Instagram photos are surprised it is not in jail.