John Malanca: Connecting Patients to Education
MMJ Advocate: John Malanca, San Francisco, CA
Let’s just start by saying that John Malanca is a people person! He loves working with people, helping others and has dedicated his life to paying it forward and connecting patients and medical professionals to education on cannabis. Serving others runs deep in his veins and he’s doing his very best, along with his wife Corinne, to help patients learn about cannabis as a health alternative through their organization, United Patients Group.
Can you tell us about your current work in the space?
Currently, I am the Founder of United Patients Group, the leading resource for information and CME education in cannabinoid therapeutics. We don’t sell products, but we work as a virtual hand for patients in need. We’re a ‘first stop’ for patients and medical professionals looking to learn more about cannabis; many come to us not knowing where to go, what questions to ask, who to trust, and we’re able to direct them, not only to doctors and nurses in our community, but to safe, reliable companies, organizations, and products. This industry can be quite a tangled web so, through our consultation services with nurses, we help people to understand what they need and what to avoid.
We’re a ‘first stop’ for patients and medical professionals looking to learn more about cannabis; many come to us not knowing where to go, what questions to ask, who to trust, and we’re able to direct them, not only to doctors and nurses in our community, but to safe, reliable companies, organizations, and products.
When was your interest first piqued by the cannabis plant?
My father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer with mets to the brain and was given just two weeks to live. At that point, I asked the oncologist at Kaiser Permanente if cannabis would be an option, because of everything in the news was about cannabis and cancer. I believe there was a reason why I was drawn to this and now I know why, why it was thrown in my lap. Cannabis had not been my lifestyle but clearly it needed to be now.
What were you doing before becoming a part of this industry?
My background is in branding, marketing, and advertising. I worked for a few magazines and dot-com companies unrelated to the cannabis industry.
What’s the most touching story you’ve heard from someone you’ve encountered in your work?
Wow, there are so many. One is definitely my father-in-law who is still alive today; He’s just had his fifth lung and brain scan and they’ve all come back with no evidence of recurrent disease. About two years ago, after one of our press releases, I received a call from a gentlemen (we can call him Tom) and he asked me, “Does this stuff really work?” and I said, “What stuff?” and he said, “Cannabis” and I said, “Well, I’ll tell you the reason why I think it works.” and I shared the story of my father-in-law with him. I could hear Tom start crying, I said, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I didn’t tell you, but I’m a doctor here in Florida and my wife has brain cancer. I’m scared to death and I don’t know what to do.” So, I shared with him the legal ways to become a patient here in California, I also told him what I would do if I lived in an illegal state.
He followed my advice, flew out to California to became a legal patient, met with a doctor, legally obtained the medicine, returned to his wife in Florida (how he got it back home was up to him). Tom called me up about ten days later and said, “Do you remember me?” I said, “Of course, I do.” He said, “I just wanted to let you know that I found a way to get her medicine. Thank you.” Over the next seven months we would talk via phone, email or text. At the seven month mark, I got a phone call, Tom asked me, “Do you have time to talk?” and I said, “Of course, I do.” He said, “I just want to let you know that you’re our first call about the results of my wife’s scans. Her scans are clear!”
He said, “I just want to let you know that you’re our first call about the results of my wife’s scans. Her scans are clear!”
So, he’s crying and I’m crying. Later, Tom wrote me the nicest note, which has stuck with me still to this day. It says, “Dear John, You’ve allowed us to cut this cell malfunction off at the knees with a feather and we are tied for life, I cannot thank you enough.” That’s the type of stuff that we get on a regular basis from patients and clients that reach back out to us. I’m not saying this is the golden medicine for all, but it has the ability to help many. After that, he also said, “Would you mind sending a picture of you and your wife that I can share it with my wife when she wakes? She wants to see the angels that have allowed her to start her life over again.”
There are some incredible people in this industry and I know we’re not the only ones hearing these success stories, but it means a lot when you hear stories like this.
People always ask, “Is your father-in-law your only success?” of course I say, “No, there are so many patients out there that are finding success with cannabis.” They always ask me, “What’s the worst thing about this industry?” My answer is, “Why does one human being in a legal state get a second chance at life, where he’s loved by many, when another person, who is just as loved, living in an illegal state, doesn’t get this second chance? We were so fortunate that we happened to live in California where we had the opportunity to try medical cannabis. My father-in-law is living proof of that. He’s alive and we couldn’t be happier. He’s been a hero for many!
What do you wish people would know about the cannabis plant?
I just wish more people would educate themselves on the cannabis plant. That’s what we do at United Patients Group is educate, not only education for the patients and clients that call us, but for the doctors and major U.S. institutions that call asking for guidance. We have CME courses in cannabinoid therapy for physicians and nurses. We believe that lawmakers should also be required to take these courses before drafting laws that make no sense.
We had a pediatrician from Italy that called us the other day asking for assistance, “I have a patient that I have made a promise to. I promised that I would research the possibilities of medical cannabis on their behalf, can you please help me?” We gave her the information she needed. We also get numerous emails from countries such as the Philippines asking the same question. We did a Skype consultation with a gentlemen from Singapore for his mom; we field calls from Australia, UK, New Zealand, Asia and beyond. Education is needed worldwide.
Currently, the media has been pushing CBD. If my father-in-law was on a straight CBD regimen, I believe he would not be here today. THC is needed to kill cancer cells. Some seizure patients have hundreds of seizures a day. Yes, CBD can help some of these patients although adding a touch of THC; those seizures can drop even more. So, when you see all these states legalizing CBD only, the lawmakers need to know that it will only work for a small percentage of patients.
Some seizure patients have hundreds of seizures a day. Yes, CBD can help some of these patients although adding a touch of THC; those seizures can drop even more.
We were at a cancer summit a few weeks ago and I was speaking to doctors who knew nothing about medical cannabis. One of the doctors that I met was a researcher as well as an author and asked me if there were there any books that I would recommend him to read. So, I referred him to a few good books and followed up with him via email about a week and a half later asking if he needed more resources, this was his reply: “Actually, John, I’m already halfway through that book and I’m blown away at what I’ve learned. Why doesn’t our government know this and why aren’t they teaching this in medical school? You’ve allowed me to scratch the surface of this industry. You’ve unleashed a beast because I can’t stop learning about this.”
What words do you live by? Is it a quote? A mantra?
“There are no mistakes…this plant was put here for a reason” is one. There are no guarantees in life and cancer affects us all in one way or another. Disease affects us all one way or another. If it’s not affecting us personally, it’s affecting our loved ones. It’s hard when your hands are tied and you live in an illegal state. My father-in-law had a second chance at life, but not everyone is granted that option if cannabis isn’t legal in their state.
What part would you like to play in moving this industry in a positive direction?
We pride ourselves on being the leading medical cannabis information and education website in this industry, which is one of the reasons why we don’t sell products. We’re here to pay it forward. We work very hard in bridging the gap between conventional medicine and cannabinoid therapeutics while maintaining an unprecedented level of ethics.
What trait does one need to do great work in this space?
In this space I think you need to be professional and accountable. There are a lot of people jumping into this space that think it’s a ‘get rich quick’ industry and it’s not. This is something that we do seven days a week, 24 hours a day; we are coming up to five years now; this is our life. It’s a lot of work. We take calls on Sunday evenings; we even take calls on Easter Sundays. Disease doesn’t pause on holidays; we have to always be available.
What is your message to the CannaEffect community?
Pass on the message of cannabis education, one person at a time, one patient at a time, one story at time. This will create change. We’ve seen it with my father-in-law’s story – It’s a domino effect; His story is being passed on from patient to patient globally. We’re all in this together! We know the benefits of this plant and I think we all need to educate our friends and family about it.
Pass on the message of cannabis education, one person at a time, one patient at a time, one story at time. This will create change.
Last November, I was at a trade show in Southern California, a woman walks up to our booth and she said, “Do you remember me?” And I’m looking at her and I’m thinking ‘Hmm…where have we met?” She said, “I came to the United Patients Conference at Dominican University and I just want to let you know that I knew nothing about this plant and you changed my life. The only reason I attended was because my friend was going through lung cancer and she did not want to go alone. The information that I learned at your event was invaluable! I have made numerous copies of your program and passed it out to friends and family to educate them!”
So, that’s what I mean about sharing. Everybody has a story and I think that sharing that story with others and getting the word out, along with education is the number one priority!
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