A Snapshot into the Medical Marijuana Industry: A Conversation with Alicia Rose, the Founder of Herba Buena
October 24, 2015
What does Herba Buena do?
HerbaBuena is a licensed California Medical Cannabis Collective providing a sophisticated, personalized approach and a curated selection of solution-based functional medicine. We differ from other dispensaries and collectives in a few ways. First and foremost we make and carry only the finest organic and artisan crafted medicine which has been tested for purity, potency and impact. We offer a hands on approach and private consultations for all our patients and are dedicated to helping them find the medicine and delivery methods that suit them best. We also offer our members the chance to gather and experience the medicine in a guided, education setting through our series of HerbaBuena Social Club events.
What gave you the idea for Herba Buena?
Over the last few years it started to become clear that my demographic was being underserved in this new frontier of cannabis. Rather than looking for more potent medicine, I was looking for a refined, sophisticated experience and products that allowed me to be more present and functional in my daily life, rather than less. Because I’m coming from the high-end wine industry I knew that there were many folks out there just like me, looking for the same high-quality, intentionally made products and experiences – including parents and professionals. There are so many parallels between the artisan wine world, and that of cannabis, it was a natural progression.
What drew you to medical marijuana as a cure for ailments?
Cannabis has so many incredible therapeutic properties I wanted to create products that were specifically oriented around a particular need or symptom. The endocannabinoid system in our bodies actually helps to regulate many of the other body systems and offers an array of harmonizing and balancing effects – especially when utilized in its whole herb state. In many ways it could be considered the world’s most powerful adaptagen as it helps to balance the body on the physical, emotional and even spiritual level. Cannabis is one of the most complex plants in terms of active components which makes it a medicine chest in its own right. Each component has its own healing properties and acts on different parts of the body. By isolating these components we’re able to treat various ailments. That said, maintaining a balance of the whole plant constituents allows each to be most effective.
Herba Buena promotes its organic, winery like approach to medical marijuana. How do you assure a high quality in your products?
Just like a winery, we go out and interact directly with the people growing the raw plant material. We have in-depth discussions with all of our producers involved in our medical marijuana plants and processing, so we can make sure all qualities of our products are up to our standards. We tour the farms where are products are grown to assure the nutrients that are being used with their plants to assure they are in alignment with what would meet organic standards or better.
How has being a parent shaped your journey in the medical marijuana industry
Because I am a parent its critical for me to find and develop products that allow me to be present and functional and to create my own experience, so potency and doses need to be exact. I strive to create products that offer all the benefits of cannabis, like managing anxiety or pain, without having to get super stoned or “checked out”. I am also very serious about creating and carrying products that don’t appeal to kids. I think it’s dangerous and unconscionable that so many edible cannabis products are being made to look like treats – like candy, cookies and sweet drinks – without any child safety measures in place, like special packaging and locking caps. Because of this we currently we only sell one edible product, a chocolate bar which is high in CBD and low in THC, and it is packaged discreetly so it looks less like a candy bar. We’re currently seeking out vendors who are making special, artisan edibles in child proof packaging. As a last step we do everything we can to educate our members about treating their medical marijuana products like they would any other medicine and keep it out of reach of children at all costs.
Do you create products with particular medical conditions in mind?
Absolutely, every HerbaBuena product is created with a purpose in mind. For example, Lullaby is one of our elixirs made to aid in sleep, so it’s produced with cannabis strains which are known for aiding in relaxation, and we even extract the herbs in a way to amplify the desired effect. We then blend the cannabis extract with other organic, critically extracted herbs, along with gemstone and flower essences which aid in relaxation and sleep. Our Rock & Roll elixir was created to ease pain and reduce anxiety, while helping to elevate mood and energy, and increase the feeling of connected creativity. Our topical Body Balm product is specifically formulated to reduce inflammation and ease pain.
How do you distribute your products? Do you sell at dispensaries or directly to your customers?
At the moment we sell our HerbaBuena products directly to our members. As our products have gained popularity, we are working on a plan to expand to being able to sell to other dispensaries and collectives as well.
Do you see the medical marijuana industry merging with traditional pharmaceuticals or do you see them as always remaining as separate entities?
I hope the medical industry becomes more involved with the medical marijuana industry because I think it would allow us more access to good research and ways in which to better measure potency and impact of these products. On the other hand, I hope if the FDA does get involved that it doesn't over regulate what is a perfect medicinal plant. If it becomes over regulated the plant could simply be stripped apart into various compounds instead of retaining the positive benefits of the whole plant. Currently, we work with various doctors with specialty practices, including oncologists, in order to formulate products and regimens which specifically fit their patient’s needs.
What change, if any, do you see as necessary for the medical marijuana industry to move forward?
I think there is already a trend that is moving toward functional and solution-based medicine. To me that is the most important part, as well as making sure the medicine is clean. Another thing we like to advocate is micro dosing, taking small amounts of medicine over more regular intervals to keep the body regulated rather than taking larger doses all at once.
Do you have any advice or tips for first time medical marijuana users?
We advise that people who are new to cannabis stay away from edibles because they are unpredictable in potency and effect. We recommend that new users start with our elixirs or by vaporizing whole flower (with a dry herb vaporizer) or with CO2 cartridge vapor pens because the intake can be easily measured. Often we’ll advise a particular strain that is higher in CBD and lower in THC to start as well. Topical treatments are also great for novices because they’re particularly effective in treating pain directly, often without an overt psychoactive effect.
How do you see Herba Buena staying current in the fast changing industry of medical marijuana?
I feel that, in many ways, we’re setting the trend with sun grown, organic flowers being the most important and sough after. Micro-dosing is also a relatively new idea that we’ve been promoting with our members and in the creation of our products since the beginning. We have a lot of exciting plans moving forward and are excited about being thought leaders in the industry by brining the concepts of holistic and functional medicine into everything we do, and coupling that with the organic, artisan and high-end approach I’ve learned from the wine industry. In fact, we’re in the midst of purchasing our own land which will allow us to be in complete control of every aspect of our products from farming the specific strains to controlling pruning, harvesting, curing and production all the way through to the end product. It’s much like a winery for medical marijuana and the best way to create the finest products, without compromise through every step of the process.