2018 has certainly been the biggest year for women in cannabis, thus far. However, female cannabis entrepreneurs have been around for decades; slowly gaining more acknowledgement and respect from their male counterparts with each passing year. I had the pleasure of sitting with Constance Finley to learn more about her personal relationship with cannabis and her business ‘Constance Therapeutics‘ which is celebrating its ten year anniversary!
For those who aren’t familiar with your story Constance, how would you describe your relationship with cannabis today? Is it different from your initial interaction with the plant?
Yes, for sure! I was afraid of cannabis. I was one of the few people who DIDN’T smoke cannabis in the 70s even though I went to school in San Francisco, blocks from Haight Ashbury. I never identified with the hippies’ drug use. I didn’t even try it socially until I was in my 30s and married to a musician. And, I divorced him, partially because of his daily cannabis use. Talk about a karmic debt. 🙂
What originally drew you to self-medicating with cannabis over pharmaceuticals? Did you have a conversation with your physician prior to trying it?
I did speak with my doctor before, but he wasn’t exactly encouraging. When I asked what he thought about cannabis and rheumatological diseases like the one I suffer from, he said, “oh, it works! It definitely works, but don’t ask me to prescribe it for you.” My response was “I’m not asking for a prescription, but if you know it works, why don’t you recommend it?” He responded saying, “People use it for the wrong reasons, to get high. You won’t get it from me.” My brilliant physician, part of the top 100 doctors in the US list, operated from prejudice and not science or evidence. I hope the ten years that Constance Therapeutics has been in existence has done something to change his mind. Using cannabis for my disease and our 4,000 patient members and their stories, certainly have changed mine.
Describe to our readers the different benefits THC and CBD have to offer when consumed together versus consuming separately.
The synergy between CBD and THC makes both cannabinoids more effective. You can have a meaningful amount of both cannabinoids depending on your needs. For example, our Constance Therapeutics CBD-rich formulations have 68% CBD and 3.07% THC. It makes for a more effective product, and 95% of people don’t experience psychoactive effects from THC in that mixture. CBD provides focusing effects and also clinically exhibits anti-anxiety and anti-depression properties through serotonin enhancement and mood enhancement effects. It’s highly efficacious against certain kinds of pain. THC will provide added benefits and any psychoactive effects typically go away with a few uses aka the attenuation process. Some people may need or want more THC and that’s easy to do as well.
Were your family and friends always supportive of your decision to medicate with cannabis?
You’ll probably be shocked, but my family still today in 2018 refuses to be in communication with me because I hold patents in the cannabis science field. I’ve ended two dating relationships because of criticisms of me using a vape pen to control pain. I’ve really paid my karmic debt to my ex-husband.
Which are your favorite cannabis strains and why?
D J Short’s Blueberry; Tahoe OG, Cherry Pie, Purple Haze for seizures, pain, sleep problems
Harlequin, ACDC, Medihaze for depression, neurodegenerative diseases like Huntingoton’s and MS, anxiety, certain kinds of nerve pain, migraines, jet lag and focus
Super Silver Haze and Jack Herrer for pain relief during the day when I can tolerate psychoactivity, thinking out of the box — inventing formulations, dancing!
Tell us about your company, Constance Therapeutics; its history, products and services. Did you ever think you’d have a career in cannabis?
Constance Therapeutics is nearly 10 years old and we’ve been pioneering cannabis technology, specifically whole female plant cannabis extracts created using proprietary extraction and compounding methods. The extracts are standardized and science-based, providing much needed additional treatment options for physicians and their patients. Traditional medicine alone leaves many patients out of options.
I was one of those patients. I never would have thought that I would have a career in cannabis, but I had an autoimmune disorder and pharmaceuticals I was prescribed nearly killed me. For more than a decade, I was an invalid who couldn’t leave the house except for doctor’s appointments. My desperation to have a life back was the impetus for my opening my mind to the science of cannabis. In 2008 I started growing and extracting medicinal cannabis legally in California. I had tried what little was available and I knew it improved my condition almost immediately. I wanted to do it better though — higher quality, higher potency, the ability to offer consistency and a prescription of sorts. That’s when the company really began and we continue to be evidence/science-based and driven by innovation and the desire to help other people.
Please explain “Whole Plant Cannabis Extracts” and how they’re different from other extracts.
Constance Therapeutics’ extracts are derived from fully trimmed, female, unfertilized cannabis flowers of plants with known genetics. We focus on preserving as much of the plant terpenes as possible. We always use CBD and THC as well. Constance Therapeutics products are based on modern herbalist principles of synergy between plant compounds and scientific research. This is known as “The Entourage Effect” theory, which shows that whole plant cannabis extracts from the female cannabis plant (not hemp) are more effective than isolated compounds, such as CBD only. Together, these plant materials enhance the overall benefits. Our whole plant cannabis extracts are obtained from only raw materials with known and controlled genetics that have been sustainably grown. Our farmers ascribe to the terroir philosophy. We have a patented extraction process that is done in our San Francisco lab and the end result is high quality, powerful, standardized extracts.
Where can readers purchase your products?
Our products are currently available to California patients through doctors. It’s best to contact us via ConstanceTherapeutics.com and submit a patient inquiry there. We are moving into the recreational space soon as well so products will also be available through California dispensaries. As regulations continue to get better, we’ll continue to expand. We already have licensing deals in other countries including Canada and Israel. It’s exciting to bring cannabis to people in need of other care options!
Do you believe cannabis should be legalized nationwide? Do you think insurance companies should cover expenses for medicinal cannabis?
Absolutely! We want all people to be able to get high quality, standardized product. Firstly, we need more cannabis research to be done and FDA-approved research. The more research that is done, the more we are seeing how much cannabis can do. There are so many different disease states, but also just lifestyle factors that can be greatly improved with the use of cannabis, according to international research. I see cannabis entering into a world based on science rather than the outdated stigmas we’ve lived with for decades. We would love to see whole plant, botanical, FDA-approved prescription products be available through regulatory channels, prescribed by physicians and hospitals so that the seriously ill have full access to cannabis and what it has to offer. Additionally, my hope is that the herbal/supplement/nutraceutical/symptom management and health prevention category would embrace and be able to offer a suite of products that could be bought at health food stores or through a naturopath or osteopath. And lastly, recreational is a valid channel for pleasure and euphoria delivered by tastemakers — and it’s one that should be kept separate as it’s a completely different want than the categories listed above. That being said, recreational users should also be able to get quality formulations and standardized products. So, yes, I’d like to see prescription medicine for the seriously ill delivered by traditional practitioners in the healthcare system; symptom management through alternative and integrative practitioners and lastly, legitimate pleasure and relaxation, like a very well made glass of wine that contains resveratrol and polyphenols but is assessed primarily for pleasure. I’m optimistic about the future of cannabis!
How does cannabis impact female consumers specifically? How can we use it during our menstrual cycles and can it be helpful during pregnancy?
Cannabis is the most useful plant on earth. Women haven’t been users traditionally mostly because of stereotypes associated with cannabis use like being seen as wild or out of control.
The menstrual cycle in particular can be especially difficult for many women to manage, with very wide-ranging symptoms. CBD and THC both affect the endocannabinoid system, helping to decrease pain or discomfort that might be associated with cramps, backaches, and even headaches. Additionally, benefits of CBD and THC on the ECS can help with stabilizing mood and decreasing bloating and inflammation of the body associated with the menstrual cycle. The general misery we all experience during menstruation is complex and varied across the body. Cannabis can act as a medicine that is broad-based, meeting multiple needs and comforting gently, without putting you into a comatose state. Cannabis can do a lot of good with little to no interference in daily life unlike most other pharmaceutical substances.
A mild non-smoke delivery method such as a standardized, non-toxic CBD in a vape pen is a good place to start and can be super helpful for cramping, low back pain, irritability and even postpartum depression.
What are your thoughts on cannabis and motherhood? Is it possible to self-medicate with cannabis and still be a good parent?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, I think cannabis can be a great way to reconnect. It can allow you to de-stress and be more mindful and playful with your kids. I also think it’s important to be mature about cannabis, to use it intentionally and to be transparent and honest about it. When I dated someone with teenage boys, they respected me for being open about my cannabis use, why, how it helped, what I thought was important to know, etc. It’s a small step towards making cannabis less taboo and viewing it as a more serious science.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
I look forward to seeing cannabis become a regular part of women’s health care routines and even wellness routines. Women are finally giving themselves permission to slow down, take a break and prioritize their own well-being — whether dedicating just a few minutes, hours or even days to practicing self care. We often work full time jobs, act as caretakers and manage the home, which means we do several more jobs than our partners. I love the idea of adopting a “Sabbath” of sorts even once a month or once a week to use cannabis consciously. Using cannabis doesn’t mean closing off parts of your life, but rather embracing them! Listen to your children, take a walk with your dog, touch your significant other, relax with your favorite meal — utilize cannabis not only as a way to manage uncomfortable symptoms, but also for enjoyment and to enhance experiences, not escape them.