Jessica Peters is a cannabis clinician focused on pediatric patients and women’s reproductive concerns. She also happens to be the founder of Moxie Meds – a company specializing in cannabis tinctures for female patients. Medical cannabis by women for women, Moxie Meds combines MCT oil and full plant extract to provide the best possible medications to assist with menstrual cramps, hormonally-related stress, menopausal symptoms, and other reproductive concerns. Formerly the CBD Specialist at Harborside Health Center, Jessica brings a wealth of expertise to the cannabis industry. In fact, Jessica possesses 7 years of professional experience in the cannabis space. A cannabinoid and terpene specialist, Jessica began her career primarily working with HIV/AIDS patients at Market St Cooperative (formerly ACT UP) in San Francisco. Today, when Jessica isn't leading her team at Moxie Meds she is focused on cannabis research and development to provide better medications for patients
In the beginning, what inspired you to enter the cannabis industry?
I was inspired to enter the cannabis industry first as a cannabis advocate and as a patient myself. My uncle passed from cancer when I was very young and I recall knowing that he was given cannabis, in my fairly conservative family no less, to ease his passing. I didn't fully understand what was going on but I knew that something very important and meaningful had transpired. My grandmother volunteered for the Boulder County AIDS Project in Colorado when I was young and I recall how therapeutic cannabis was for the patients in her life and yet also how much stigma was attached.
I've worked in the cannabis industry for over 7 years, beginning at a San Francisco dispensary called Market Street Cooperative which was formerly the AIDS organization ACT UP! SF - who played a HUGE role in the existence of medical cannabis in the state of California. After Market Street Cooperative, I went to work at Harborside Health Center - which is arguably the largest cannabis dispensary in the US. I began working at Harborside with the goal of addressing the dire needs of patients for cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
How has cannabis influenced your life?
Cannabis has influenced and affected my life for the better in so many ways - most importantly as a patient! I have a disease called endometriosis - it's a very painful and debilitating reproductive ailment that's relatively common (1 in 10 women have it). From my teenage years until around when I started working in the cannabis industry, it greatly impacted my life. I missed school then work regularly, began being hospitalized with some regularity (without a diagnosis no less), went into a great deal of medical debt and was prescribed a TON of pharmaceuticals.
Finally in my late 20's and early 30's - after much of my life having NO diagnosis - an ER nurse in Los Angeles suggested I may have endometriosis. The next step was doctors suggesting surgery to remove endometrial cells or either a partial or full hysterectomy. It was right around that time that I began working at Market Street Cooperative and CBD-rich flowers first hit the California cannabis market.
I found great relief with them and moved on, once at Harborside, to a protocol involving CBD-rich full plant extract dosed out 3x/day. This protocol essentially changed my life - while I still technically have endometriosis, my primary and worst symptoms are truly gone. It's been years since I've been hospitalized for it and my periods are fully manageable.
Specific to endometriosis - the average time length between symptom onset and diagnosis is a whopping 10 years! Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 10 women and yet there's almost no research and little to no non-surgical solutions for women facing it, so this feels, to me, like a wildly under-addressed medical need for which CBD is well aligned to assist. This is where my idea to create Moxie Meds arose - to specifically reach out to women to open the conversation regarding medical cannabis and how it may benefit women's specific needs.
While our medications are effective for all patients, and we have approximately 40% male patients purchasing Moxie Meds, I felt that there was a true need to bring women further into the "fold" so to speak. We see female patients seeking relief from general cramps and emotional/mood swings, symptoms of menopause, menstrual migraines, endometriosis, PCOS, uterine and ovarian cysts, fibroids, and more. All that said, men can and do take Moxie Meds for pain and inflammation concerns, for mental health needs, and more. Our medications will work well for any human of course but we are grateful to have opened the door to greater communication regarding women's specific cannabis needs.
What are some of the advantages to using tinctures?
I chose to make the delivery system for Moxie Meds a tincture format because they are very fast acting (a sublingual dose is the quickest non-smoking or vaping method and we add MCT and coconut oils to enhance absorption and bioavailability).
Tinctures are also very easy to dose for new patients - they can go one drop at a time to ensure they are appropriately medicating and not overdoing it. Finally, tinctures are discreet - minimal to no smell, easy to keep in your pocket, bag or purse, and quick and easy to consume.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
Work/life balance is hard for everyone these days and all the more so in the modern cannabis world! I recommend focusing on self-care in all ways - getting enough sleep and exercise, of course, healthy eating (I've been vegan for over 20 years) and taking care of your endocannabinoid receptor system - all the basics. 😉
But my number one suggestion is to enjoy nature! We are an animal like any other and were born to enjoy the natural world. For me, that means swimming and kayaking (and more) and for others, it means different activities - the important part is to get out there and enjoy it!
How does cannabis support a healthy lifestyle?
Cannabis, when treated with respect, supports a healthy lifestyle in so many ways! Our endocannabinoid receptor system is responsible for regulating homeostasis so we need to care for it by providing quality cannabinoids and terpenes that meet our bodies needs. Not only can ingesting and topically applying cannabis lead to better health, but it can also assist in pushing us to engage in other better wellness practices.
For many, cannabis is a big part of their exercise routine. For others, cannabis is what assists in getting a good nights rest or reducing stress overall.
If you could offer an aspiring cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
My advice to women (or anyone!) looking to work in cannabis...read, learn, and volunteer! While research in the US is stymied due to federal regulations, other nations are rapidly advancing cannabis science. We desperately need nurses and doctors, and frankly, any accredited healthcare providers, to bridge the gaps in our engagement with patients and Western medicine.
Whether working directly in scientific research, as a Western medical provider, or a cannabis clinician - there's an urgent need for more communication between the cannabis world and those working in general healthcare. I would love to see more organizations reaching out to hospices and to terminal patients, where cannabis began in my life and in many others. We need strong women to stand up and lift the bar for the larger cannabis community.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
What I enjoy most about my work in cannabis is unquestionably assisting patients! I've been privileged to be a part of so many people's lives in such an intimate way. I've gotten to see children go from being not verbally communicative (due to the level of seizure activity they were experiencing and to some extent potentially due to the cocktail of pharmaceuticals they've been prescribed) to hearing those very same children describe their day to me with joy.
To be a small part of these changes is worth my life. I've had the honor of helping patients pass with a greater sense of comfort - I cannot adequately describe my gratitude to experience that type of beauty.
Name the top 3 skills every cannabis entrepreneur needs
I think the top 3 skills needed by a cannabis entrepreneur are compassion, drive, and flexibility. This industry moves VERY quickly and requires major personal drive and the ability to push yourself through challenges as well as the flexibility to maneuver into new roles. My day changes constantly and I have to evolve into new tasks and areas of work I may be less familiar with - adaptability is key!
All that said, in my mind that drive and flexibility are useless without compassion - our empathy for patients should be what leads us as healers and caregivers, no matter what role we have in this industry and movement.
What has been your biggest struggle working in the cannabis industry?
My biggest challenge in my work with cannabis is without a doubt maintaining work/life balance. This challenge exists and looms large for several reasons. One is that the speed of this industry makes it difficult to "unplug" for fear of missing out on windows and losing opportunities.
Another part of this challenge for work/life balance in my reality surrounds my patients - my empathy for the people I engage with as patients means that I may choose to respond to their emails or make consultation calls instead of going out to exercise, enjoy nature or getting enough sleep. While I am aware that I need to be healthy and happy in order to reach more patients in need, it can be hard to draw that line and ensure my own wellbeing.
Name the number one mistake you see new cannabis companies make when entering the industry.
The number one mistake I see some new cannabis companies make is their minimal focus on patient and staff education. Everyone is on such a hunt to create new products or to open the best new dispensary or grow, all of which is very important of course, that the focus on understanding the science of cannabis may become secondary at best. For example, how many patients (myself included) have expressed a need for anxiety or stress reduction to a "budtender" and have been handed aativa-dominant THC as an option? While there IS great variance in patient response, we can generally say CBD medications and indica leaning THC medications are likely the best first choices for anxiety - yet this problem still persists.
As another example, greater education in the industry would lead to a better understanding of the values and pitfalls of various extraction methodologies but we still face a great deal of confusion regarding the entourage effect and why it appears to be so valuable to retain as many of the original cannabinoids and terpenes as the plant provides. Information regarding the efficacy of various approaches to cannabis medications should be of utmost importance but is sometimes left out of the picture in the race to "succeed" in business. Don't get me wrong - there are many good companies as well and we all need more (not less) medication options. That said, my advice to new cannabis companies would be - don't make it or sell it if you or your family wouldn't want to consume it for health and wellness and make it a point that you and your staff are always furthering education to the benefit of patients.
What do you see in the future between the cannabis industry and other fields of natural health/medicine?
I truly wish more western healthcare providers had a greater interest in cannabis as medicine, but those that do often have minimal engagement with the cannabis community and little opportunity to learn from the work we've collectively done to assist patients. At this point, when I do provide consultations it's often to physicians themselves. I don't recommend specific medications - I just try to illuminate some of the basics we've learned about the entourage effect, CBD:THC ratios, terpenes, extraction and the variance in physiological response.
My goal with that choice of consultation is to maximize the educational value of my work. I regularly speak with doctors who want to understand more about what we've learned anecdotally in the cannabis world. While it's valuable to read research (especially from other nations where researchers can go further), nothing can replace having engaged with thousands of patients. The future of cannabis is directly tied to how well we as a community engage with the modern healthcare system so as to reduce the stigma and increase our understanding of this amazing plant.