Women are the biggest users of medical marijuana (MMJ). But on the professional side, the industry is still dominated by men. Over the next several weeks, MedicateOH will be talking with women in the industry about their roles, experiences, and predictions for the future of MMJ in Ohio. This week, we spoke with Emilie Ramach, Director of Community Outreach at Terrasana Cannabis Company, and founder of President of Compassionate Alternatives.
MedicateOH: Give us a brief overview of the different roles you’ve held in the medical marijuana industry?
ER: I have been in the medical cannabis industry for the majority of my professional career. After my best friend lost his struggle with pancreatic cancer, I dove into medical cannabis legislation in Ohio. I love to describe my life at that time as “young, dumb, and passionate”.
During my time spent learning the inner workings of legislation, I met my dear friend and mentor. My mentor had graduated from [Oakland California’s] Oaksterdam University. She and I moved to Colorado. I poured myself into all things cannabis. However, I grew up in Cleveland and Ohio is my home.
Since returning to Ohio, I have assisted patients in search of alternative [medical treatment] options and helped to guide them on their healing journey. While working with these patients, I struggled emotionally with how many of them were unable to afford their medical cannabis and other alternative medicine. I’m the founder and president of Compassionate Alternatives. Compassionate Alternatives is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to help families financially afford their medical marijuana referral in Ohio.
In March of this year, I had the pleasure of opening and managing Terrasana, central Ohio’s first medical marijuana dispensary. It was an honor and quite frankly seemed like a complete dream. I have since been promoted to Director of Community Outreach for Terrasana.
MedicateOH: How has the clientele changed in the time you’ve been working in the industry? Specifically, how has women’s rate of use changed?
ER: In the past 10 years, the clientele has changed drastically. Here in Ohio, we know that the most populous age range for registered patients is 40-69 years old; the average age is around 50 with the largest number around 45 years old.
Women’s use has increased in sync with the increase of cannabis education. For decades, women have used marijuana for menstrual cramps, anxiety, menopause, hormone imbalance, etc. I think we all agree women are the majority of cannabis patients for a multitude of reasons.
MedicateOH: What do you see as challenges that prevent women from seeking MMJ as a remedy for their conditions? What have you found is successful in helping women become comfortable with discussing MMJ and using it when appropriate?
ER: All of the women I’ve known in my life have used cannabis to relieve one symptom or another including my mother and grandma. To me, it is all about education and, more importantly, being honest with our bodies. As women we need to continue to support each other and be open with one another about our medical cannabis use. The use of the word “medical” is so important here.
MedicateOH: Can you talk about some of the ways you have seen MMJ help your clients?
ER: I’ve worked with medical cannabis patients for 10 years. Cannabis helps patients in ways we’ve never seen before. Personally, I’ve seen stage 4 cancer patients come back from the brink of death. I’ve seen children who have struggled with autism and epilepsy be able to have a chance at a full life. Patients who suffer from all kinds of illnesses are able to finally have relief. As industry professionals and patients alike, we all have a voice and a reason for our passion for this beautiful plant.
MedicateOH: How is the regulation and process for obtaining MMJ in Ohio different from other states where you’ve lived and worked? What are the advantages and disadvantages to Ohio’s process?
ER: Each state I’ve had the pleasure of working in has had its own challenges and growing pains—Ohio is no different. Our program is new and we have a lot of growing to do together.
MedicateOH: If you could make one change to the current process, what would it be?
ER: Personally I feel more conditions could and should be added. This plant has been studied for decades for its medical benefits, especially for autism. The more states that legalize, the more we will begin to see a convergence of what are the new societal norms around cannabis. Here in Ohio, patients now have legal access and that is a big step in the right direction.