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  • “Women are in every sector of this industry, and I think there are a couple reasons for that. We’re the nurturers and healers of our families. When someone in our family or friend group is not well, we take the role of caregiver. Some of this has been imposed on us by society, but that means we have a comfort level with that, so we’re the early adopters who are seeing cannabis as medicine. I really think this was the springboard that launched it. It’s a unique and beautiful thing to see nurturers and healthcare providers get in early in this industry. Many of us feel like we’re reaching a point of critical mass in the workplace. The timing is just right. The combination of these things makes it ideal for women to step to the forefront and be highly active and entrepreneurial.”


    In 2008, Lisa Tollner co-founded Sensi Products, a popular line of cannabis edibles. Their goal was to create medical marijuana products for families dealing with various health issues, who are considering cannabis as a treatment method for pain or other chronic symptoms. Their most popular products are Sensi Chews, a line of chewable supplements designed to address different health needs, from insomnia to pain relief. They even have a line of Amore “pleasure” edibles, perfect for Valentine’s Day.



    “We have a customer service number on our site. We’ve gotten a lot of calls ever since California’s new laws kicked in, but we usually get a couple calls a day. I would venture to say that 75% of the calls we receive are from women. They’re either doing research for themselves, they want to know more about cannabis and its effect on various conditions, or they’re doing research for loved ones. They’re the ones out there saying ‘my husband, my boyfriend, my son or daughter is suffering from an illness, we’ve tried everything. Will this help us?’ Women are blazing this trail after watching the people they care about suffer needlessly. They’re ready to roll up their sleeves and do their due diligence.”



    Last year, Sensi Products teamed up with the Institute of Research on Cannabinoids (IROC) for a 1,400 person study to examine the role of cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders, anxiety, PTSD, and pain. This will be the largest peer-reviewed study of its kind when the findings are released this spring.



    Assorted cannabis bud strains and glass jars isolated on black background – medical marijuana dispensary concept

    “When we teamed up for this study, the goal was to focus on 4 primary issues – chronic pain, sleep and insomnia, anxiety, and PTSD. The survey was so extensive so we could yield more information and allow people to discuss other issues like fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal issues, and other pain-specific illnesses. From that, we’d relate it to the 4 primary objectives.

    We received 1,400 completed surveys. 300 participants came back to complete it a second time so we could collect some time-related data, but it’s hard to get people to come back after the first 30-minute survey. We had 30-50 people come in for a third round. We were seeking time-stamped data, and we did get a little, but having 1,400 completed surveys is a significant sample. The industry does not yet have access to information of this kind.”



    “We’re hoping for some insight and knowledge we haven’t seen in the past due to federal restrictions. Most big research firms prefer a hands-off approach, so most research is done outside the United States. When patients inquire about whether a product will help them, we often find ourselves referencing studies that are 10 or more years old. Our study with IROC is not a clinical trial, but it’s still a complete survey with a large sample and peer-reviewed data. It’s important information and we’re excited to share it with the industry.

    The timing for release could be just right with Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice doing everything they can to slow the industry down. A study like this could take some of the wind out of their sails, especially when they try to claim cannabis has no medical value. It’s hard to ignore peer-reviewed studies from medical professionals.”


    the cannabis leaf and medicaments

    “In my view, the pharmaceutical companies are worse than the government. They’ll take the plant into their lab and strip it of anything natural and valuable. I have a very strong belief that the reason this humble plant works so well for the human condition is that it’s as close to plant life as you can get. When you come to extracts or butter or even vape cartridges, it’s very close to its authentic, original, in-the-ground form. It’s been engineered to work effectively with human anatomy and the endocannabinoid system. My fear is that when big pharma gets involved, they’ll screw it up for small companies who are doing things right, taking it slow, who don’t have deep pockets but want to honor the plant in its truest form.”

    Cannabis on a wooden background


    “I’m hoping Sensi Products will be able to continue and support more research. I also think other companies will begin stepping forward to invest in research and help move the needle. It will be interesting to see what happens in terms of science and who backs it. Who’s going to back the science? Are we going to wait for big pharma to come and do it, crushing us in the process? I hope not.”


    Find out more about the study and who’s behind it on the Institute for Research on Cannabinoids website. Jane Dope will publish the details of the study as soon as it becomes available. Be sure to subscribe to the blog for new post notifications.

     Lisa Tollner on Sensi Products, Women in Weed, & Her Role in Groundbreaking New Cannabis Research – February 5, 2018 – Jane Dope

  • By Rachel Parsons
    Hub Correspondent

    The first Friday evening of the new year, Dina “Dr. Dina” Browner stood in the lobby of her West Hollywood pot shop watching the line of customers snake out th e door and down the sidewalk. There was about a 40-minute wait at Alternative Herbal Health Services, one of only four stores selling recreational weed in the Los Angeles area.

    “I’m not a doctor,” she said. “I’m board certified by Snoop Dogg.” He is a client, she added, and she flipped on a big screen TV to entertain the patiently waiting crowd as it inched closer to the backroom sales counter.

    Although New Year’s Day saw scores of new laws take effect in California, including changes to statutes governing things from firearms to diaper changing stations in men’s restrooms, arguably the most anticipated change was the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use.

    It is now legal at the state level for adults 21 and older to buy cannabis without a medical recommendation in certain places. As lauded as the end to pot prohibition was by some, the move resulted in a patchwork of local jurisdictions and taxation that is creating uncertainty in the industry in the first weeks of implementation.


    To do business, a shop must have a state license and local permission to operate. The state left the ultimate decision of whether sale is allowed in each city to that city, resulting in a jigsaw puzzle of possible points of sale that customers have to navigate.

    In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, West Hollywood was the only city to pro-actively approve recreational sales permits for four of its existing medical cannabis dispensaries. Those shops were allowed to begin sales of adult-use non-medical marijuana Jan. 2.

    Browner, whose store sits on Santa Monica Boulevard, said the West Hollywood City Council told her not to expect too much business too soon.

    “I went online and I ordered crowd control stanchions just in case,” Browner said. “And thank God I did … we used to have about 120 customers a day. Now we have 500.”

    In Los Angeles, the city began allowing existing Prop D-compliant shops to apply for recreational sales permits Jan. 1, though according to the Department of Cannabis Regulation’s website, it may take “weeks to months” for those to be issued.

    The Loft After Care, a medical dispensary within Los Angeles city limits, applied for its permit, but the company does not know how long it will wait, according to one employee. Until then, it will continue to operate as a medical-only service.

    Compton still has an outright ban on all marijuana activities, said Dean Jones, senior economic development specialist with the city, but there is a special election Jan. 23 to resolve the question of local sales.

    Compton voters pushed for a ballot initiative with two measures included—one asking whether manufacture and cultivation of cannabis and dispensaries should be allowed in the city, the other whether only dispensaries should be permitted.

    Jones pointed out if neither initiative is approved, the ban will remain and there are currently no legal pot shops in Compton.


    Critics of the law, including shop owners and customers, said high tax rates will have an adverse effect on regulated sales and allow the illicit market to thrive.

    At the state level, there is a 15 percent tax levied on cannabis products. Previously, there was no state tax on medical marijuana. Cities can apply local taxes and Los Angeles consumers will pay its standard 9.5 percent sales tax and shops will likely pass the city business tax of 10 percent on to customers as well.

    With a potential tax of about 35 percent on a recreational purchase in Los Angeles, medical use is not going anywhere, said Alex Kayekjian, manager of Total Herbal Consultation in Woodland Hills, a physician’s office that issues medicinal cannabis recommendations.

    “Obviously we were a little concerned,” Kayekjian said. “If it’s turning legal, why would people come and get a med card? The answer to that is the taxes. It’s really expensive now.”

    Medical patients will avoid sales taxes if they have a state issued medical marijuana ID card. A recommendation from a doctor will still be needed. Both of these come with fees, but if a patient buys medication routinely that cost will outweigh the taxes, Kayekjian added.

    Lisa Tollner, co-founder of Sensi Products, a 10-year-old company that makes cannabis edibles, underscored the industry’s concern over taxation.

    “What’s the balance,” she said. “Between taxation and being, and not having the greed for taxes be so rampant that you force the black market to become strong?”

    Tollner said she believes things will get worked out, but added that Washington state and Colorado still have strong illegal markets, in part due to the higher cost of buying from a licensed retailer.


    At the federal level, marijuana is still illegal.

    Because California’s law leaves final say to local jurisdictions, there is confusion for existing medical shops in many localities around the state.

    Tollner said some shops that previously operated where there was no official city ordinance are now sitting in places that have banned cannabis all together. That has hit Sensi’s business, at least temporarily.

    “Sales [are] definitely going to fall for us,” Tollner said. “We expected it. We don’t know how severe it’s going to be just yet … there’s still a shakeout that’s happening.”

    The Department of Justice threw a wrench into the works during the first week of legalization as well.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo Jan. 4 rescinding an Obama administration directive that essentially told the DOJ not to prioritize prosecution of states that legalized the drug.

    “What Jeff Sessions did by reversing [Obama’s instruction],” Browner said, “The reality is, it did nothing. It meant nothing to us … we already know how California feels.”

    AHHS’s local law enforcement had no issues with the shops. Lt. William Nash of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said there were no incidents involving any of the city’s dispensaries, and it was too soon to tell whether they would curb illegal sales in the area.

    Consumer reactions were mixed.

    Ken Hamasaka, a Los Angeles resident, said although he no longer uses marijuana, he would still buy from private individuals whom he knew and trusted if he wanted some.

    Actor David Krumholtz, who waited in line at AHHS said even with the higher cost and a long wait, he would rather buy retail.

    “The convenience of not having to wait for a guy to show up,” Krumholtz said. “You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know if you can be arrested, you don’t know who they are, where they’re from, who’s watching them, I mean the convenience is worth it.”

    Despite the uncertainty and hiccups, there is still optimistic confidence inside the industry that things will work out.

    “We believe that the state has done a phenomenal job,” Lisa Tollner said. “It’s not easy, I mean they’re carving out regulations for an entire industry … This year is going to be a year of change and so everybody’s just got to stay flexible and work through it.”

     Pot sales create patchwork of confusion – January 17, 2018 – The Hub