In this episode, Heather talks to Dana Belka from Cannacare Docs, who is the main sponsor of our event. She talks Heather through the process of getting a medical cannabis card. Then they talk about the future of industry and how women are taking over.
Heather Warburton 0:02
This is Wine, Women, and Revolution with your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio.
Hi and welcome to Wine, Women, and Revolution. I’m your host Heather Warburton coming at you here on New Jersey Revolution Radio. You can find us firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on all the social medias and get us wherever you get your podcasts from. Today we are talking about an amazing event we have coming up this weekend. It’s the Women Weed and Wellness event out in Cherry Hill. And I have with me our primary sponsor who’s making this whole thing happen for us. Dana Belka from Cannacare doctors. Welcome to the show.
Dana Belka 0:48
Thank you for having me.
Heather Warburton 0:50
I’m so glad that you guys got on board with us and are helping us bring this women specific event to New Jersey because I think it’s really something that’s needed.
Dana Belka 0:58
I absolutely agree with that statement.
Heather Warburton 1:01
And why I really wanted to have you here today, we’re not going to give away too much of what we’re doing at the event because we want people to come to the event. But we did want to talk a little bit about how you can become a medical marijuana patient in the state of New Jersey. And since you are from Cannacare doctors and are my prescribing doctor as a matter of fact, who else would be better to have on the show than you?
Dana Belka 1:23
Right? So in New Jersey, there are I think 19 qualifying conditions now, all the way from chronic pain to anxiety to PTSD to opioid use disorder, to epilepsy, migraines, seizures, chrones, ms. I mean, the list just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And so you need to have one of those qualifying conditions and your medical records to support your qualifying condition. And then you would bring them into a place like CannaCare doctors.
Heather Warburton 1:54
So you just go to your regular doctor who’s treating you for that and they say that you have this condition correct.
Dana Belka 2:00
And usually it would be in your notes as well. So when you leave the doctor’s office, you get a patient summary. Usually in there, it will let you know what you were being treated for, or what you were diagnosed with, and then you would bring that in to our office.
Heather Warburton 2:16
Okay, so what happens? I’ve got my paperwork and I come in and make an appointment with you guys. How many offices do you have?
Dana Belka 2:21
Right now? We have five offices in New Jersey, but we are national. So we are in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Colorado, Texas. We’re going to be in New York very soon. Missouri’s coming online. Oklahoma is coming online. So a lot of growth is happening with CannaCare doctors, but in New Jersey, right now we require two visits. The first visit you would come in, meet with one of our site coordinators. They do all of the education with you on the program, the rules, the regulations, they helped get you registered, and then you would come back in for the second visit. If it can be done in one day, we will do it in one day. But then you would come back, you would meet with the doctor, he would certify you and then you’re good for the year.
Heather Warburton 3:13
Alright, so I get the certification. Do you guys fill out the paperwork for me? Or do I have to fill that out myself?
Dana Belka 3:18
We do it for you, at CannaCare doctors. It’s part of your our service. So if you want us to do it, we can. If you want to do it yourself, you can do it yourself too. We also help with the two year card renewals at no charge as well, too.
Heather Warburton 3:33
All right, yeah, I’m still a little way away from my two year card renewal
Dana Belka 3:36
We have people coming up on their six year card renewals.
Heather Warburton 3:40
But, you know, it’s it’s great that you do help people with that because it’s kind of confusing still, like a lot of people I talk to still don’t really understand how you get it. And when I say like, oh, they’re the prescribing doctor, well, what’s the prescribing doctor? It’s not really a prescription anyway,
Dana Belka 3:54
Right. It’s a recommendation because marijuana is still a schedule one drug so it’s not looked at as A prescription, but you need a prescribing doctor to give you the recommendation.
Heather Warburton 4:06
And so you get that paperwork and then can I go to any dispensary?
Dana Belka 4:10
So you can go to any dispensary that you want in New Jersey, however, you can only be registered at one at a time. So if you wanted to go to Egg Harbor, you can go there to now and then next week, you can go to cure leaf, but you have to go online and change your primary dispensary.
Heather Warburton 4:28
It’s a little annoying.
Dana Belka 4:30
And actually, you know, they are actually pretty good at doing it for you if you just show up there as long as you’ve been there before.
Heather Warburton 4:37
Right. And it’s it’s not that hard to do. You can just do it right on the Department of Health website, right. Currently, who knows once they’ve changed things around? Because things are changing.
Dana Belka 4:47
They seem to be changing every week lately.
Heather Warburton 4:49
Yeah, they definitely do. Now we’ve got the ballot initiative that we’re going to be voting on in 2020.
Dana Belka 4:55
That’s also going to be another game changer, right?
Heather Warburton 4:57
Yeah, for sure. And it’s not gonna be The Department of Health it’s going to be the advisory board.
Dana Belka 5:03
Yes. Trying to put a cannabis commission? board? committee? in place. So that’s something that they are working on right now. But at this time it is the Department of Health and they do have a separate medical marijuana team.
Heather Warburton 5:20
And so when somebody comes into your office if they’ve never used cannabis before, do you kind of talk them through a little bit about it or does that happens at the dispensary?
Dana Belka 5:27
We offer the education prior. So we go over methods of use and stuff like that. And then the dispensary is supposed to do it as well. So they are supposed to go hand in hand. But because marijuana is a schedule one drug. There’s a lot of information that it seems like people don’t find out, that they need to find out on their own because people are still afraid to talk about it.
Heather Warburton 5:52
Dana Belka 5:52
Yes, if that makes any sense
Heather Warburton 5:54
There’s still this stigma around a medication that’s helping people across the world. People have been using it for centuries.
Dana Belka 6:02
Heather Warburton 6:02
And we have this relationship with the plant that just drastically changed at some point in time. Because somebody decided it was a bad thing,
Dana Belka 6:10
It probably helped too many people,
Heather Warburton 6:12
Right? It’s a plant, you know, you could grow it yourself quite easily.
Dana Belka 6:16
I say that all the time. It’s a plant, it grows in the ground. What is the problem with it? Right? We eat plants that grow in the ground, vegetables, I mean, everything we eat comes out of the ground.
Heather Warburton 6:28
Right? There’s a friend of the show who says like, I can grow as many tomatoes as I want. I can grow tomatoes all day long. I can grow peppers. But the one thing that’s actually prescribed to me can’t grow.
Dana Belka 6:40
I can’t grow.
Heather Warburton 6:42
The thing that you’re actually like, someone told you, this will help your medical condition and you can’t grow that but grow the corn you will.
Dana Belka 6:49
And the thing that people, I think, don’t understand about the medical cannabis is that it’s the micro dosing and the everyday use with micro dosing that you get the relief from it if you just use it here and there. Yeah, you, you will get high.
Heather Warburton 7:05
Okay, let’s go into that subject a little bit because in case anybody doesn’t know what micro dosing, like, if they’re only experiences is they smoked a joint at a party, you know, they get high and they laugh at whatever’s on Netflix for two hours. And you eat an entire bag of Doritos, but what’s micro dosing,
Dana Belka 7:23
Micro dosing, it’s pretty much when you just take a little bit. So your pains away and you go about your day and then a couple of hours later, you take a little bit more to keep your pain away, so on and so forth. If you use too much marijuana, then yeah, you will get high you’ll have that.
Heather Warburton 7:43
Dana Belka 7:45
Right. So it’s just a little bit to ease the pain to feel the relief.
Heather Warburton 7:50
And people have been micro dosing and really keeping severe conditions under control, as long as they’re keeping that little little bit in their system at all times.
Dana Belka 8:01
I know for myself, it’s been everyday since 1993 of the micro dosing. And that’s all I keep coming back to.
Heather Warburton 8:10
And before you started the interview you were telling me that you were actually in a back brace before you discovered this.
Dana Belka 8:16
Yep, I wore a back brace from age 11 to 22. I never took gym class, never played a sport.
Heather Warburton 8:23
And once you discovered this, you’re up, you’re active. I see your pictures. You’re on like Facebook, you’re out everywhere. You’re doing all kinds of stuff.
Dana Belka 8:30
I started using it for migraine headaches. I get basilar migraine headaches every time before it rains. They’re very, very rare. So migraine medication wasn’t helping them. And the other option was pain pills. And I didn’t like them. So a doctor told me in 1993 to smoke marijuana. Best advice I ever got. But it really did. Six months into it I couldn’t understand how a back that I was told that would need surgery on was getting better. And the only thing I changed was marijuana.
Heather Warburton 9:02
It’s obvious why you’re in this industry. You’re so passionate about it, that it really is a calling for you. That you’ve seen the help.. the miracle, it’s done for you, and you want to share that miracle with other people.
Dana Belka 9:11
I do. And I’ve actually gone through a lot to even get here. I mean, I dealt with family services, had my kids taken away from me, I didn’t see them for a year, all because I self medicated. And I refuse to give it up. Because I knew the benefits of what it did to me in 1993. And I want everybody to be able to at least have that option, to at least experience what a natural medicine is and how that can help you. It can help you.
Heather Warburton 9:40
And Dana is especially very caring about patients because a while ago, my original practice or my original prescribing doctor kind of went out of business in a rather abrupt manner. And I had an appointment set for like less than a month. It was maybe like two weeks from then, and I’m like okay well??? And Cannacare had taken over the patient profiles. And I’m like, I’m freaking out because I take it for anxiety, and this is not helping my anxiety. I’m freaking out. I think I posted on the Facebook page like, What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go. And the office I went to was closed. I was freaking out. And you actually personally reached out to me and it was like, it’s okay, we’ll set you up with an appointment come out here and like, you kind of calmed me down.
Dana Belka 10:27
I was like a hawk on Facebook, like oh my god, these patients I was I was going crazy because I felt bad for all these patients that I knew needed to get in. And at the same time, because there’s been so many problems within the marijuana program in New Jersey with doctors being a little shady. The state is now watching closer and cracking down that it just created a mass panic but Canna care doctors got the state involved in the transition, which really helped with the transition. And then me being so involved. I was able to see people like you On Facebook, oh my god, don’t worry, we got you. We’re not gonna leave you.
Heather Warburton 11:03
it’s not like you’re just like an office manager. You are the regional marketing director for Cannacare, like you’re not, you know, it’s you are covering a giant area. How many states doyou cover?
Dana Belka 11:14
I cover four states and I help with New York. But then I also assist the area manager who also covers the same states. She does the operational side. So I was really assisting her because it was so much so fast. And so many patients were just, especially the ones with anxiety. Their anxiety got heightened really fast.
Heather Warburton 11:35
Right, you reak out, because here’s this medicine that keeps your anxiety at bay.
Dana Belka 11:39
And our call center was not ready for the volume, right? And it just created the phones overblow and then it just created this mass chaos. But we worked through it we got through to ,you know, most of the patients, and we did the best that we were able to do. And luckily the doctor did assist with some things that we needed. That made the transition a little bit easier to.
Heather Warburton 12:05
And I would definitely say I prefer Cannacare doctors as my prescribing doctor versus my old prescribor that I had. You guys are pretty awesome.
Dana Belka 12:13
You went into Linwood. Right?
Heather Warburton 12:14
Dana Belka 12:15
And you met the doctor who’s just,
Heather Warburton 12:18
He’s a very nice guy. Yeah, he’s so laid back and chill. Like, he actually took my blood pressure reading like, which never happened at my other prescribing doctor. He took my blood pressure. He took my temperature
Dana Belka 12:30
And he talked to you.
Heather Warburton 12:31
Yeah, that’s about like, Okay, well, what are you using? And, you know, how’s it working for you? And, you know, it actually was a real, like, medical conversation, which was very different from my other experience.
Dana Belka 12:42
And that’s why Canada care doctors, you know, came into New Jersey and took over the patient base to show them that there were other ways out there and that just because their first experience wasn’t so good, it doesn’t have to continue that way.
Heather Warburton 12:56
Right. Yeah. So I have to ask you because, you know, we’re doing weed and women event. What’s it like being kind of a powerful woman in the weed world here in New Jersey and in the region
Dana Belka 13:09
So I could tell you that there’s not enough time in the day. My days run into my nights. my Nights run into my weeks, My weeks run into my my months. It’s always moving and always changing. And it’s one of those industries where you just can’t take things, you know, personal. And just keep on you know, keep keep on moving because if you have the passion that will override anything else out there. But you know, they say that its, you know, fast paced high energy. For me it’s that I never know what the day is gonna bring. I have a plan one way and it’s gonna that’s not gonna happen.
Heather Warburton 13:50
Right? We had this interview scheduled before and you’re like, I gotta go to Massachusetts today. I’m sorry. I can’t
Dana Belka 13:57
Its just they just pop up out of nowhere and I think it’s also because the industry itself every day is always changing state by state and, you know, on a national level too. So you’ve states that were medical now the recreational. It’s just I think that 2020 we’re going to see a lot of changes in the industry, but the industry itself, I don’t think it’s even really surfaced yet. If that makes any sense, right?
Heather Warburton 14:20
Do you find yourself very much in the minority being the only woman at the table sometimes?
Dana Belka 14:26
Sometimes, yeah, but lately, I feel like it’s more of a women’s world.
Heather Warburton 14:32
We’re kind of slowly taking over.
Dana Belka 14:33
Yeah, I kind of feel like that. I feel like women, you know, are more true to their passions. And it’s not just so much. Let’s get on the next bandwagon. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people also in the space come and go right to. So I think the ones with the real passion, and the real, you know, knowledge and really want to be there. We’ll be there as the industry grows. And I know I’m one of those people.
Heather Warburton 14:59
Yeah, I can Imagine you’ll be around, you’ll be in this industry, as long as you can.
Dana Belka 15:03
I never thought I’d find myself here. But I truly, truly enjoy helping people get their medical marijuana card and then seeing the results. Like I have seen results that I’m like, wow, like speechless.
Heather Warburton 15:17
Yeah, it can be a pretty profound effect.
Dana Belka 15:20
To help get somebody back their quality of life. I find that to be very rewarding. It’s definitely not about the money.
Heather Warburton 15:27
So we’re having this event this weekend and it’s going to be awesome. I’m so looking forward to it. The amazing people at the Cherry Hill Women’s Center are hosting us and are giving us the whole run of the building. So we’re going to have vendors in different rooms. We’re going to have one room set aside just for getting massages and then we’ve got the essential oil demo. Still not sure if we have the yoga demo or not. But we have a lot of really awesome vendors. We have speakers obviously Dana will be one of our speakers you can come you can meet her
Dana Belka 15:57
With information on how to get the card and have information
Heather Warburton 16:01
About Cannacare doctors in general. Where the offices are. You can meet somebody who’s a professor who runs the cannabis minor out at Stockton. You can meet the woman who’s the co-owner of The Joint in Trenton. And she’ll be one of our speakers. We have just amazing speakers. We have a woman who runs a company that’s bidding for one of the licenses, one of the minority licenses is going to be one of our speakers. We just have an amazing group of women.
Dana Belka 16:31
It’d be a fun afternoon. Yeah.
Heather Warburton 16:32
And you can get all your questions answered. Explore your relationship in like a friendly woman positive supporting environment.
Dana Belka 16:40
So no judging,
Heather Warburton 16:41
No judging. Oh, and there’s going to be chocolate, so what more do you need?
Dana Belka 16:46
Not much more. Not much.
Heather Warburton 16:49
And I really want to thank you and Cannacare doctors for enabling us to have this event.
Dana Belka 16:54
And thank you for having us too. I mean, I think this is something we should do on a bigger level.
Heather Warburton 16:58
Yeah, I think we’re gonna have more. Many of these. This may become a touring show that we’re going to do here and wherever, you know, we’re starting off in South Jersey, because you know, all good things start off in South Jersey here. But, you know, we’ll take it up to North Jersey, New York, Philly,
Dana Belka 17:11
Massachusetts, Maryland, all over Colorado. The women are the future of the weed movement, I think.
Heather Warburton 17:18
Any last words before we close it out for today?
Dana Belka 17:21
No, I’m just looking forward to our event and having all the wonderful women come out and just having a great day.
Heather Warburton 17:29
To my listeners, thank you so much for joining us today. Hopefully, if you are considering or wondering how do you get your medical marijuana card in New Jersey, you got some of your questions answered. And if that’s something that you think is going to be right for you, you can start moving that process forward. I’m sure Cannacare docs would love to have you as one of their patients. And, you know, it really can change your life. If it’s something that’s the right fit for you and you have one of these conditions. It can have profound effects. So thank you so much for joining us here today. And you know, we have these kinds of conversations, as activists, as patients, as people that just care about things. And most of the time, we do not actually get any corporate money for our show, because very rarely do people want to hear about the kinds of things we’re talking about. So you know, if you do want to hear about these kinds of kind of conversations and want to keep these conversations going. If you can go on to our website and click on the donate button, it’s www.nj evolutionradio.com. The donate buttons right there, we can take your money any way you want to give it to us. We could take PayPal. We can take Venmo. We can take Patreon, Cash app no matter how you want to give us money, we can take it and we appreciate every dollar you give us. It all really helps us a lot. The future is yours to create, go out there and create it.