Interview: Lily Waronker, West Hollywood, California
Images: Dr.Dina, West Hollywood, California
West Hollywood-based Dr. Dina is known around Los Angeles and beyond as the “number-one weed consultant to the stars”—something you might expect only from the girl who took her first hit off Snoop Dogg’s blunt.
Dr. Dina now serves as a pot-itician, advocating for weed’s legalization in every sense of the bud’s reputation—she helped a close friend fully rehabilitate from stage IV cancer thanks to the drug. She also celebrated her most recent birthday onstage with 2 Chainz, “L” in hand.
Although a self-proclaimed Nancy Botwin (she tells of Jenji Kohan, the series creator, hanging around the Sunset Shoppe when she helped her lifelong friend Andrew Kramer – and guess who the creators based ‘Andy Botwin’ on – chatting her up about the business and her life in Calabasas), she can proclaim it with confidence, as Weeds leading character Nancy Botwin, Mary-Louise Parker, and Dr. Dina share a crazy close resemblance,
Unlike the Nancy Botwin character, Dina’s contributions tend toward community rather than criminally focused – and actually legal, depending on who you ask. Her helping AHHS founder Jason Beck toe the City, County and State legal line hasn’t stopped the Feds from knocking down her door time and time again.
When was the first time you got high?
The first time I got high, I was 15 years old. I was hanging out at my friend’s house, and my friend’s father is a very important criminal attorney that used to represent Snoop Dogg and Death Row Records and Snoop was over at the house.
I don’t really remember knowing exactly who he was, I just remember thinking his friends were really cool and fun and everyone was really excited that they were there. So we all went over to the tennis court ‘cause we were kind of giving them a tour of the property and Snoop lit up—I’m pretty sure it was a blunt.
And I remember looking at my friend like, “Oh my God, they’re doing drugs,” just freaking out, because I was such a little goody-goody.
You were a little goody-goody?
Oh a total goody-goody at that point. I guess my eyes told my friend everything, but my friend was apparently already cool with this and he was like, “Oh man you guys, she’s going to fucking rat me out to my mom,” ‘cause his mom was the coolest woman ever.
So Snoopy looked at me (I think we were calling him Snoopy at the time), and he said, “Hit this.” He pushed it in my face, and he says, “Hit that now.”
I did it just because I felt like it was the right time to do it. This guy seemed like he knew what he was doing and I felt like I could trust him. On the one hand I was being bullied, but on the other hand I felt this immense sense of trust with him. And so I took a little puff, and he laughingly turned to me and went, “Good job, you’re part of us now, so if we get in trouble then you get in trouble.”
You’re friends with Snoop today.
He went to Cal State Northridge. We were taking classes at the same time and so we would see each other occasionally. It wasn’t until a few years later when I opened up the first doctor’s office that specialized in medical marijuana recommendations, did we become close. That started because I was living in this house in Calabasas with my ex-fiancé.
We were breaking up but we were still living together while I was figuring out where I was going to move.
The phone rang one day while he was at work, and it was an old friend of his. He said he had good news and bad news.
The good news was he met an amazing woman that he was totally in love with and going to marry, and the bad news is he was diagnosed with stage IV testicular cancer.
Then two days later, he got laid off; really bad.
So anyways, he was undergoing chemo and he couldn’t keep the pills down so he knew he wasn’t getting the treatment that he needed.
So basically he called asking for one of my ex’s guns ‘cause he knew he owned a lot guns, so he basically wanted to borrow one. And I just said “Oh my God, oh my God, I can’t believe you’re thinking like that, I’m on my way over right now.”
This was back in 2002. He was sick as a dog, he was sitting at the kitchen table, a metal pot in lap, he looked white as a ghost, and it was really, really scary. He couldn’t even get up, and it was the saddest thing seeing this big guy not even be able to hold this pot. It was just horrible.
So I pulled out this joint and said, “I want you to try this,” and his wife freaked out and said, “I’m going to get deported if he uses this.”
So I begged her to allow him to, and she decided that she was going to leave the house and whatever we decided to do would be between us. So I lit up this joint in the kitchen, he smoked it and he started coughing but then, he didn’t throw up. Five minutes goes by, ten minutes go by, his stomach starts to growl. He says, “I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m feeling hungry. I want to try to take another pill.”
So basically I found this one doctor in San Francisco advertising medical marijuana. We drove up North and it was a horrible car ride cause he couldn’t stop throwing up. We finally get there and there’s a line around the block, and there was no way my friend could stand in line, he’s just puking all over himself.
So I turn around, and kept driving in circles cause I’ve never been to San Francisco, and all of a sudden I look up and I see an Office Depot and I buy a rolling office chair. We drove back to the office and we waited in line for three hours. We finally saw the doctor, he signed the paperwork, and he got his doctor’s note. Then we drove down to Southern California.
There was only one dispensary open at the time. One opened up that everyone was talking about, but it was like a crack den. So I thought, “We need to figure out a better way to be dispensing medicine to these people.”
Back in San Francisco, I had asked the doctor why there weren’t any dispensaries like this in Southern California and he said, “Well actually, I’m kind of thinking about doing a clinic down there, I just don’t know anyone in LA who would run the clinic,” and I’m like, “I’ll do it.”
He goes, “Deal.”
So you embark on that journey, leading you to start…
… working with a childhood friend who opened up a collective right next door, and I was helping him as a consultant. That’s really where the show Weeds was inspired, because consultants from the show used to hang around the store and noticed my relationship with my God-brother, then used us as the inspiration for the Nancy and Andy characters.
What are the different types of people you work with on a daily basis at Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS)?
Besides Jason [Beck, the dispensary's operator] who’s an absolute character, I deal mostly with our patients.
I’m the person that our VIP, celebrity patients consult, who really need cannabis but are afraid to be seen in public because they could lose endorsement deals with big companies if they’re seen using it.
They schedule a time when they know I’m here so that they’re safe and they feel comfortable. A lot of the time people don’t know what they’re getting and they want me to pick it out for them. They want me to choose their dosage. Apparently I’m really good at that.