If you're familiar with Cannabis oils, including those high in CBD and THC, you may also be familiar with Constance Finley of Constance Therapeutics. After grappling with a near-death experience at the hands of prescription drugs used to treat her severe autoimmune disorder, Constance found her way to medical cannabis. Although skeptical at first, she quickly realized that, in addition to managing her pain effectively, medical cannabis drastically improved her quality of life.
Today, Constance is a leading authority in the CBD/THC oil industry and her company Constance Therapeutics produces the gold standard in whole-plant cannabis extracts. To date, her groundbreaking extracts have helped thousands of people and even a number of household pets. Recently, I interviewed Constance to find out more about how she's revolutionizing cannabis care and what drives her mission.
Tell us about your journey and the whole plant cannabis extracts you produce.
Due to my autoimmune disease I was housebound for many years. After doing quite a bit of research, I started out making extracts for myself and experimenting from there. Because of my condition, I had to be a fanatic about my health and I was extremely careful about what I put in my body. This is largely why we only use fully trimmed, female unfertilized cannabis sativa flowers of plants with known and controlled genetics and we source all raw materials from either in-house or collaborative farms that ascribe to the terroir philosophy. I needed to know exactly where the materials came from and how they were grown. Our farmers are committed to growing plants sourced from us and using a methodology based on modern biodynamic farming principles. Our focus on quality products doesn’t end there. We only use pharmaceutical grade, certified-organic ethanol for extraction because research has shown that this is the safest of the solvents.
I am very proud of how far this company has come and believe every cent of the million dollars I have invested in Constance Therapeutics was necessary in order to ensure that we take a science-based approach to product research and development, which includes our patent-pending extraction method. Each step of our extraction process is precisely defined and meticulously measured. We have also implemented extensive standard operating procedures and are currently implementing internationally accepted standards for pharmaceutical companies (ISO 9000) in pursuit of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
It is amazing to think that we started out in my wine cellar and now Constance Therapeutics is located in a biotechnology acceleration campus. Our lab is truly amazing. We have biotech grade hoods for worker safety during chemical analysis and R&D testing, as well as industrial grade fire-safe storage equipment for proper storage, including a fire-safe freezer for ethanol storage to prevent any explosion risk under even extraordinary conditions. I think I am most proud of our rotary evaporator that removes any remaining solvent and preserves terpenes. We also installed state of the art vacuum pumps that are used to separate bioactive and inert components, as well as a chemical laboratory grade air filtration system to remove microbial contaminants and other impurities from the air. Needless to say, purity is a primary concern for me. Finally, we have industry-specific vacuum ovens to optimize aesthetics because aesthetics are important, even when it comes to medicinal cannabis.
Constance Therapeutics is now a vertically integrated medicinal cannabis company, and we are setting the industry standard for quality, potency and consistency with a new category of treatment options with our whole plant cannabis extracts. Our work is ushering in a new era of care – Care 2.0 – in which whole plant cannabis extracts are integrated into traditional healthcare, providing physicians and their patients with expanded treatment options and filling the gap between traditional pharmaceuticals and commonplace cannabis products.
In order for our extracts to actually be considered an integrative option – and possibly even an alternative to pharmaceutical medication – by physicians, we must keep a close eye on quality, potency and consistency. Otherwise it is impossible for physicians to determine proper dosage or monitor for efficacy. We currently work with two great labs to test every lot of our extracts. We check for cannabinoid profile (potency), residual solvents, pesticides, microbial contaminants and aflatoxins. As you can see we have taken many steps to ensure our extracts are the absolute best.
You started operating Constance Therapeutics several years ago at a time when it was scary to do so, with changing laws and even government raids. What was it like to produce your product during that time?
I dealt with the fear by understanding that my own prejudice against cannabis had shifted and that the world was changing. I basically prayed that the Cosmos would protect me and that cannabis would lend its incredible energy toward that end. My passionate mission to help others has really given me my life back. When I started working with other people and seeing the miraculous results that occurred, I decided to really take this mission seriously. I also decided that there wasn't anything better I could be doing with my life. We decided that the best and most compassionate thing we could do was to take cannabis seriously. We set out to be at the forefront so that, instead of helping just a few people, we can deliver whole plant cannabis extracts to those in need (and in possession of California medical cannabis card, of course), whether that is for something like insomnia or anxiety, or a more serious condition. We would really like to see cannabis become a common tool in a physician’s toolbox.
At HelloMD we see that about 60% of patients get their advice from a Bud Tender. If patients come to your collective what kind of guidance will they receive?
When people come to us they will receive guidance from our member services team. We now have three scientists and a psychologist that work with our members and are available 12 hours each day by phone, email and text. This has helped a seriously ill population embrace cannabinoid therapeutics without concerns about addiction or health risks.
If a patient uses your oils, how might they expect to feel? In general, people experience a deep sensation of body relaxation. Patients with more serious conditions often report back that they sleep a lot during the first 2-3 weeks, but this is usually a temporary phase though. We believe that sleep allows for deep healing.
How long does treatment typically go on for a patient?
It depends on the patient, but usually a protocol for a cancer patient might last for three to six months. They're usually on a higher dose for two months, but then it is gradually reduced. If they go into remission, then they are switched to a much lower maintenance dosage. If they have gotten good results but no remission, they usually will continue with the higher dose.
Cancer patients are a large portion of the patients you see, but you also work with patients with chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and Lyme disease. What's your take on cannabis, chronic paid, autoimmune and Lyme disease?
I think in many ways that chronic pain, autoimmune diseases and Lyme disease stand to benefit more directly from cannabis. With these conditions, the rest of your life can be improved with a cannabis regime. Plus, when you find your effective dose in cannabis, it will only come down from that dosage as your condition improves. It is unlikely that you will ever need to increase your dose.
We also work with people who have degenerative conditions like Huntington's and Parkinson's. These patients often find fast relief and frequently try CBD-rich extracts rather than those with higher THC levels because, as research indicates, the therapeutic properties of CBD hold great benefit for these types of conditions. However, it is important to note that we advocate that all extracts have some THC in them in order to achieve optimal benefit. Our extracts are based on modern clinical herbalist principles of synergy between plant compounds and scientific research, specifically “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.
How did you start to provide whole plant cannabis extracts for pets?
Many people started to use our extracts on their pets and we noticed that there was a positive impact on many pet’s lives. My own service dog - an 80-pound French Shepherd - developed an aggressive form of cancer. At a certain point I started to give her cannabis extracts as a last hope. She started to do much better and soon after the vets declared her cancer free, about three weeks later. Since that time about 40 dogs and a few cats have come to us through veterinarian referrals. It makes us happy to see the lives of animals being saved or at least improved. Ultimately, we would like to do research in this area as well.
Speaking of research, you just announced a new partnership with Gridiron Cannabis Coalition. Can you tell me a little more about that?
Oh yes. We are very excited about working with GCC. We have partnered with them to advance research on the benefits of whole plant cannabis extracts starting with ex-NFL players suffering from chronic pain. From there, we will move forward with additional studies that focus on other sports-related injuries. As I mentioned, my company is driving a new era of care – Care 2.0 – and that includes care for athletes so that they too have access to the treatment options they need.
What inspired you to work with ex-football players specifically?
Well, obviously there has been a lot of news lately about Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and the lasting impacts of concussions, largely as a result of the film, 'Concussion', but we actually began this dialogue with GCC in November of last year because I saw a lot of similarities between what the players were going through and my own journey. I had to create my own treatment when pharmaceuticals failed me because there were no other options.
My mission is to help people and these NFL players so desperately need help treating the lasting ramifications from the high-impact sport because, as we have seen in the media, all too often the prescription medications they are taking are either leading to addiction or just plain not working for them. We want to embark on scientific research that will clearly show that medicinal cannabis actually can be an option for the issues that NFL-players or any athlete deal with. Our goal is to provide the undeniable evidence needed to change people’s negative perception of cannabis.