Almost daily, Carla Baumgartner opens a new email from an out-of-state patient desperate for relief from one of the hundreds of medical conditions marijuana can aid.
While California legalized medical marijuana in 1996, patients in many other US states who suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, nausea during chemotherapy, and more also suffer from medical marijuana criminalization and are left to manage their pain with pharmaceuticals.
“The prescriptions are poisoning people,” says Carla. “People take them, get addicted to them, and sometimes they don’t wake up.”
The 49-year-old yogi opened Ganjarunner, a premium medical marijuana delivery service, in Los Angeles in 2014, nearly three decades after she began medicating herself with cannabis for anxiety at the age of 14.
Following a 26-year career in marketing and PR that left her drained, Carla decided to follow her heart and do something she could feel passionate about.
“It’s been a part of my life and a part of my routine forever,” says Carla. “I wanted to give back and I always, in the back of my mind, wanted to do something with this industry.”
After a few phone calls, a solid business plan, a strong defense attorney, and all the usual blood, sweat, and tears behind every successful business, the Ganjarunner wheels were finally rolling, offering same-day medical marijuana delivery throughout approved areas of Los Angeles and next-day marijuana delivery throughout the entire state of California.
Carla says there was certainly some initial concern about the dicey venture involving marijuana in the beginning, but she and her team remained confident.
“I didn’t really stress out too much about it because I really believe in this product and all the benefits,” she says. “I always say to people, ‘You’ve got to have balls, you’ve got to be a warrior, and you’ve got to believe.’ I believe in what I'm doing. My passion has ultimately outweighed my fear.”
While she can’t currently help out-of-state patients, Carla and Ganjarunner’s 13 drivers are certainly changing lives in LA. “We’ve got a very large patient base,” says Carla. “I wanted to do delivery because I know that there are a lot of patients who can’t get in a car and drive. They’re too sick.”
Many calls for delivery service come from people looking for an alternative to pharmaceuticals for their elderly parents, like an 84-year-old woman who is back to her vibrant self after micro-dosing with edibles to relieve severe depression.
Carla says the woman didn’t want to live anymore and she was going downhill. Micro-dosing is when a patient is administered minuscule amounts of marijuana over a long period of time to subtly combat their medical condition without the overwhelming side effects of THC.
“I always say to people, ‘You’ve got to have balls, you’ve got to be a warrior, and you’ve got to believe.’ I believe in what I'm doing. My passion has ultimately outweighed my fear.”
Recently, the company also received a thank-you note from a young man who suffered from anxiety so severe that he couldn’t leave thehouse. “Now, he is living a full life,” says Carla. “Thanks to microdosing with cannabis, little by little, he started to come out and now he is living a normal life; he is in college, dating a cute girl, and getting in his car, going away on weekends.”
The majority of Ganjarunner’s patients use cannabis to manage physical pain and mental distress, but there are many who use it to treat the harsh and often debilitating side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Some of them also use medical marijuana to treat cancer itself.
“I believe that the THC plus the CBD definitely have the ability to shrink tumors and reverse cancer,” says Carla.
Ganjarunner has also seen an increase in calls from recreational users (who have a doctor’s note) who, like Carla, would rather bend their mind on a Friday night than go on a bender.
In fact, Ganjarunner has a number of clients in the entertainment industry including actors, musicians, writers, producers, and high-powered attorneys. “I’m sure that will quadruple when the recreational law passes in January,” she says.
Still, Carla’s primary focus remains on assisting patients with severe medical complications. It’s a passion that grows in the face of adversity. In addition to the often confusing and complicated national, state, and municipal laws surrounding medical marijuana, Ganjarunner has also had to deal with scam artists who attempt to place large orders with a stolen credit card.
“There’s a lot of fraud since we’re an online store,” says Carla. “You just have to be smarter than they think they are.”
Ganjarunner offers a wide variety of high-quality medical marijuana products including chocolate bars, candies, brownies, gummy bears, and more. Weekly specials are always changing, but no tax Tuesdays is by far the most popular deal and busiest day for Carla and her drivers.