Activist, policy wonk and fierce cannabis advocate, Jude Thilman, owner of Dragonfly Welness Center, disseminates information on the uses of medical cannabis and advocates for the cannabis community in Mendocino County and beyond.
With a Masters from San Francisco State in Broadcast Communication, International Relations and Public Administration, Thilman is well-prepared to embrace the complexities of the industry and the issues.
“Cannabis has a 5,000-year history in the Chinese medical pantheon,” she says. “We’re dealing with decades of misinformation promulgated through the War on Drugs. We have lots of work ahead, helping people wend their way through this complex world.”
Five different patient groups comprise the bulk of Dragonfly patients. Seniors make up the largest group. “Most of our patients are about 60 years old. They are disillusioned, and disappointed with the pharmaceutical industry’s response to their health challenges.”
The second group is parents of children with neurological conditions. “We see parents whose children have epilepsy, ADHD and more. These are motivated folks who speak before legislators and advocate for their children.”
Veterans make up the third group. “We are keeping vets alive—folks with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries, who, prior to trying cannabis had considered suicide.”
Family members of Hospice patients are utilizing cannabis. “We are helping prolong the lives of loved ones with dignity and comfort, without losing them to the cloud of opiates,” Thilman continues.
The fifth patient group is athletes. “People who want to get back into their game are using high-CBD, anti-inflammatory cannabis medicine, reducing the negative impact of medications like Naprosyn, and eliminating dependencies on pain medication.”
“We spend lots of time with new patients—a minimum of 45 minutes. We’re providing phone counseling with people from all over the country. “When I give presentations to dispensary staff, I tell them they are not ‘Bud Tenders.’ They are Patient Counselors,” says Thilman.
“Cannabis is an herb. Its effect on people is individualized. If two people with migraines visit a Chinese herbalist, one would leave with a different concoction than the other.”
Delivery systems are important. “People still equate cannabis with smoking, which isn’t the ideal way to support our endocannabinoid system, though it’s useful for controlling certain symptoms.” Edibles can also be problematic. “Eating cannabis is a circuitous route to the bloodstream.”
The best route for cannabis delivery, says Thilman, is through the oral mucosa. “Swishing a tincture in the mouth, or eating lozenges, suckers or chews are effective, easy-to-titrate delivery systems. We recommend alcohol-based tinctures. The amount of alcohol consumed is minute. For infants or seniors who can’t ‘swish,’ suppositories are the next best choice.”
The dispensary offers non-GMO cannabis flowers and products. “We don’t carry crappy pot grown with diminished cannabinoid profiles. Profiteers make more money with pot laden with pesticides and chemicals. That’s not medicine.”
“For patients, the ratios between the THC and CBD cannabinoids are very important. For example, a 1-1 ratio is effective for those with autism or bipolar disorders.”
Micro-dosing is on the rise, says Thilman. “CBD works by reducing inflammation, which affects everything from diabetes to cancer to arthritis. Non-psychoactive, micro-doses of cannabis can be very effective. In our video, a patient ingests a CBD tincture before playing golf. He’s good to go. Everyone else is popping ibuprofen.”
Thilman is intent on sharing the science of cannabis medicine. “I spoke recently to a service group. About 10 people walked out, but the remaining 25 wanted to hear everything, because they or someone they know is dealing with cancer, or dementia. This is a civil rights issue. A health care reform issue..”