Once Snoop Dogg lays a nickname on you, it sticks for life – just ask “Dr. Dina,” his longtime friend, confidante and business associate. Dr. Dina is not a board-certified M.D., nor did she go to medical school. Rather, Dr. Dina received her nickname from Snoop for being one of the pioneers of the movement in Southern California to provide safe access to medical cannabis in accordance with state law.
A powerful advocate for mainstreaming medical marijuana and beloved by hundreds of Hollywood celebs and dignitaries for over a decade, all-the-while maintaining her secrecy due to the relatively conservative social circles in which she lives, Dr. Dina has now decided to come forward and step into the spotlight following the prominent mention she received (an inadvertent “outing”) in the article on Snoop in the January 2013 issue of GQ titled “The Lion Smokes Tonight.” In the article, Dr. Dina is referred to as “a thin brunette who has the whole Nancy Botwin look down cold,” a reference to the pot-selling mom played by Mary-Louise Parker on the award-winning comedy-drama “Weeds.” That’s not even the half of it – the character Nancy Botwin and the very premise for the show was inspired by Dr. Dina, who launched her consultancy in 2003, two years before the show debuted and at a time when she had direct contact with creative personnel on the show and when there were very few, if any, other women in the business – especially in Los Angeles. Dr. Dina explains “Ever since the pilot aired and even more so today, I’m constantly being stopped and asked if I’m “the real” Nancy Botwin. Yes, the pilot was based on me. But Weeds is certainly not my life story. Nancy was a criminal drug dealer. Everything I do is 100 percent legal in accordance with state law. I am not so much driven by money but by the desire to help people in need.”
Like Nancy Botwin, Dr. Dina is probably one of the most unlikely people you would expect to be at the heart the medical marijuana business. Raised in a conservative Jewish family in the San Fernando Valley, her mom, a Ph.D., still bristles when people call her daughter “Dr. Dina.” While working as a pieced goods buyer downtown after college, Dr. Dina was inadvertently thrust into the world of medical marijuana in 2003. A close friend approached her, knowing Dr. Dina is always one to help. He had bad news, having been recently diagnosed with stage three cancer. Now, he was having serious trouble holding down the chemo pills. Dr. Dina did some research, and learned that medical marijuana might be the only way for him to hold down the pills. Despite great efforts, she was unable to find a physician in Southern California who would even discuss medical marijuana as an option. And, even if she found such a doctor, there was no access to safe medicine in the area. Eventually, Dr. Dina heard of a physician in the Bay Area who was amenable to the subject. They drove up to meet him. Not only were her friend’s medical needs addressed, but Dr. Dina was able to convince the physician to open up his practice in L.A. one day per week. But there was a catch – Dr. Dina would have to run the place, and handle all of the business and administrative matters. She agreed, and the first medical marijuana physician’s office in Southern California was born. The demand was so huge that within three months she had helped open six different offices.
Medical marijuana patients need medicine – and even today marijuana can’t be found at local pharmacies – only “dispensaries.” Back in 2003, the only L.A. dispensary in Los Angeles had a dangerous “crack den” atmosphere. Dr. Dina was committed to changing this and quickly began working with many dispensary owners to establish safe, clean, state-law compliant and welcoming environments. The ensuing days and the stories that unfolded would put the best episode of Weeds to shame – whether it be dealing with federal raids, turf wars, conservative parents or just about anything else one could imagine, and more. It was very much a man’s world, and a dangerous one at that, but Dina – weighing in at barely 90 pounds – somehow managed to handle it. She even inspired several hit songs along the way, including Snoop’s 2008 song with Everlast, “My Medicine”: “Yeah, she kinda skinny but she gets my money, get my money, buy my medicine…”
Over the past decade, in addition to consulting with countless Hollywood celebrities, politicians, entertainment executives and other VIPS, she has consulted with over three dozen non-profit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in California, three in Colorado, and one in Oregon. Moreover, she has and continues to consult with the City of West Hollywood and Los Angeles to help safely regulate the business. Among her many professional accomplishments, she helped launch a “compassion” program that provides free medical marijuana to the city’s sick and needy.
Since stepping into the spotlight in 2013, Dr. Dina is rapidly becoming a household name, having been named the “Queen of Medical Marijuana in LA” by Rolling Stone Magazine, and seen by millions in the Vice documentary “The Real Nancy Botwin” and in a GQ web-series with 2 Chainz, where she smokes the world’s most expensive joint. “Over the past decade, I have seen the industry explode for both the good and bad,” Dr. Dina says. “I hope that the work I have done, and continue to do, will help legitimize the use of medical marijuana for those who truly need it. It is gratifying when those people thank me for what I have done. Sometimes, I feel like I’m giving them a second chance at life.”
Learn more about Dr. Dina on her personal website www.drdina420.com
Daron has been a media professional for most of his life beginning in production and working his way up quickly as a television director and ultimately an entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Cannabis Radio.