Jane Fix has been called a champion for the medical cannabis industry in Arizona since before the state had established a medical program. This year she was named one of the 30 Most Powerful Women in Cannabis by AZBigMedia, the umbrella for myriad mainstream publications in the state.
Helping others get educated on the plant as medicine has been her calling for more than 50 years. The journey began in the Spring of 1969, just months away from the Summer of Love, when at 16, a friend’s grandmother introduced her to the plant.
“We called her Grandma Petey,” Fix shared. “She was probably in her 80s, and she was very matter of fact about using cannabis for her arthritis pain. She lived in a little house in the canyon up from the beach from Encinitas. She had a pile of cannabis in a Frisbie, sitting on a table in her kitchen-dining room. She grew it herself in the backyard, and taught me it was the only thing that helped the pain. Something I would hear from senior patients time and time again over the years.”
Grandma Petey was the first to demonstrate to Fix that “marijuana” was really medicine, and she was also the first person who taught she and her friends how to grow it.
“I remember her son going back and forth from Mexico, with Grandma Petey being one of the first to grow sinsemilla, that we knew of,” she added.
Sinsemilla is known to come from southern Mexico, so it makes sense that Grandma Petey’s son visited frequently. The cultivar was said to be developed in the early 1950s, and was first brought to the states in the early 1960s, with folklore that includes singer/songwriter David Crosby (High Times archive, 1999).
It’s poignant that Fix’s first sampling of weed was from a plant cultivated for high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that may have tested upwards of 15%, at a time when the average cultivars weighed in at around 3% of the then mildly psychoactive compound.
Merriam-Webster describes sinsemilla as a “… highly potent marijuana from female plants that are specially tended and kept seedless by preventing pollination in order to induce a high resin content,” with the Spanish translation literally meaning, “without seed.”
As a footnote, the late Southern Humboldt cannabis farmer and hybridizer, Lawrence Ringo, in cultivating what we know as high cannabidiol (CBD) hemp today, said his intent was to hybridize the THC in the plant back down to what he called the “God plant,” with THC testing below 4%. After nearly 15 years working on his pet project, as a bonus, the CBD tested upwards of 14%, giving us the more medicinal plant we have today.
Awe & Wonderment
Fix was raised in Southern California in Rancho Santa Fe, near the historic Del Mar Fairgrounds, where the equally historic horse racing track is located. She grew up in a house her father designed not far from the ocean.
She said cannabis induced “wonderment and awe,” opening her eyes to the natural world around her.
“I’d smoke a fatty and ride 20 miles to the beach just to sit and enjoy nature,” she said. “Cannabis also opened up my third eye, causing me to speak up for what I believed in at the time. At the height of the Vietnam War, my friends and I would lie down on the train tracks that ran along the ocean to Camp Pendleton in protest of the tanks going to the Navy yard in San Diego.”
When a newspaper reporter once asked her to compare alcohol to cannabis, she balked.
“The most I’ll give you is that some people treat it like a glass of wine at the end of the day,” she shared. “But comparing the plant to alcohol just proliferates the negative stoner image. Dennis Peron got in all kinds of trouble for saying it’s always medicine, but we know that it is.”
That’s not to say that Fix doesn’t also enjoy a good smoke to unwind after a busy day.
“My bottom line is that I love weed,” she laughed. “Yes, I’m educated on its efficacy, but at the end of the day I’m not unlike others who use the plant to chill. The fact that I get a good night’s sleep as a bonus makes it medicine.”
Path to the Plant
Fix also credits Grandma Petey in influencing her to study botany during college in California, with her mother encouraging her to work in a plant nursery.
“I was fascinated by the billions of plants that heal,” she said. “Everything I’ve done and learned has led me to the place I am now, helping people with a plant.”
At three-quarters away from finishing college her education was cut short, as her father passed away and she took over the independent phone directory publishing business he owned, until the company was bought up by competition.
Having been brought up riding horses, Fix said she went to Colorado and worked in the Rocky Mountains at a the Sombrero Stables in Estes Park for eight years until an injury ended that gig.
Once back in Arizona, Fix returned to college, earning a teaching degree in education from Arizona State University. After five years of teaching fourth grade she said she didn’t feel valued within the Arizona school system.
She pondered moving to Montana, where she knew the school system was better, but as fate would have it, she decided to attend a four-day training session at Oaksterdam University – one of the first cannabis education facilities in the country, located in Oakland, California.
Advocating in Her Home State
When Arizona voters passed the Medical Marijuana Act, Proposition 203 in 2010, then-Governor Jan Brewer suspended dispensary licenses, allowing patients medical cards with no safe access points. The suspension also left those running collectives in limbo under constant threat.
“I was managing a caregiver collective,” she said. “It wasn’t unusual for the first two customers of the day to be Phoenix Police officers asking how the operation ran. We were always teetering on the edge of being arrested and shut down, while in the thick of helping patients with real illnesses, I might add.”
The caregiver collective model began in San Francisco, California, officially established in 1994, as The San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club; founded by the aforementioned Dennis Peron (known as the Father of Medical Marijuana), and his partner, John Entwistle.
The club was established in 1994, two years before California voters would approve Proposition 215 in 1996, making the state the first in the nation to officially recognize the plant as medicine. This is telling, as with most established medical cannabis programs, the caregiving was already taking place, waiting for legislators to catch up.
During this time, Fix said she was interviewed by a local TV station at the caregiver collective, where she was working. Then Maricopa County Attorney, Bill Montgomery, now a Justice on the Arizona Supreme Court, was in the studio and when shown her interview, the reporter asked him if Fix was in danger of being arrested, to which Montgomery responded, “I would arrest Jane Fix,” with the thought being, if she continued to operate.
“Montgomery fought the vote to legalize cannabis and was in opposition since his days as a county prosecutor,” she said. “When we got into it on air, he wanted to arrest me right there on the set in the middle of the interview.”
By December of 2012, Arizona allowed the first licensed dispensary to open in the City of Glendale, allowing safe access to patients, validating the work Fix and others had been doing.
Fix eventually became Director of Facility Operations for the collective she had worked for. But after realizing a need for a comprehensive patient services program for the cannabis industry as a whole, the position of Director of Patient Services was created for her.
No Quick Fix
Her education in botany, combined with her degree and experience in education, was the perfect fit for advancing the emerging cannabis industry in her home state. For the next four years she worked as Head of Patient Services for Monarch Dispensary in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Women Grow, a national organization of professional women in cannabis, voted Fix one of the Top Ten Influential Women in Arizona Cannabis in 2015; and by 2017, she had been named Director of Patient Services at Sol Flower Dispensaries, owned by Copperstate Farms; a position she still holds today, overseeing the patient care for five dispensaries, with more openings planned.
Fix said she’s witnessed help for many over the years with many illnesses and disorders, but, she’s also witnessed a wider array of ailments helped since cannabis has become more prevalent and understood as medicine.
“Five years ago 30% of our patients were coming for help with cancer,” she said. “Today, we are seeing more patients with neurodegenerative illnesses, like Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and Alzheimer’s. It used to be that oncologists were getting on board for referrals, now neurologists are referring patients for cannabis use. Unfortunately, it’s used as a last resort when traditional treatments are exhausted because of the stigma.”
Fix added that she has no reason to lie or exaggerate about the efficacy of the plant, and if the patient wants to wait for science, that’s their prerogative.
“Ten out of ten Parkinson’s patents get relief after finding their dose, and that’s phenomenal,” she added.
As with any cannabis use for symptom control or serious illness, dosing, she said, is key.
“It all depends on the ailment and what condition the patient is in,” she advised. “Take Parkinson’s, ideally tincture is a good delivery. We always prefer a sublingual to see where their sweet spot is, starting with a five milligram dose and working up to 10, 15, or 20. Generally people are microdosing on the lower side, and working their way up as needed.”
Education can be found on Sol Flower’s Blog on its website, with ongoing workshops and guest speakers invited, lecturing on every aspect of the plant as remedy. Its monthly calendar is loaded with classes on yoga, meditation, tapping, sound therapies, and an ongoing 101 on the adult use of cannabis. Its Sun City dispensary opened in 2019, hosts a cafe and a classroom, with the goal of becoming a type of community center and place of education – hoping to break the mold of what people think a dispensary is.
As for the efficacy of the remedies, Fix said that the plant is becoming more accepted as patients are helped, with eight out of ten seniors never looking back, able to give up addictive and often damaging pharmaceuticals.
“From the first hit Grandma Petey gave me I never understood why cannabis wasn’t legal,” she concluded. “The positive effects it’s had on both my own physical and mental well-being alone have been obvious, and I’ve used it almost daily ever since. Now, with my years of helping others, I can honestly say, I still don’t understand why it’s not available everywhere for everyone.”
For more information on Sol Flower visit, https://www.livewithsol.com/