Women's Lib: Pamela Hadfield Talks HelloMD

Getting a weed card couldn't be easier.

Pamela Hadfield is a co-founder of HelloMD—what the New York Times describes as a weed startup at the forefront of the newest trend in Silicon Valley. 

HelloMD is an online community of patients using medical marijuana for health and wellness. It provides patients with access to physicians via Telehealth (live online video) for medical consultations, medical marijuana recommendations, treatment information, and advice.

Hadfield knows a lot about weed, running a business, and being a woman in a new space.

The KIND: Why did you found HelloMD? 

Pamela: I co founded HelloMD with my husband a little over a year ago, and this is our third technology-based startup. The key difference with this startup, is that we are both truly passionate about the cannabis industry and what we are creating within this space. We see ourselves, and our fellow colleagues, as patient advocates, allowing for greater access to medicine that should be accessible to everyone.

The decision to pivot our business into the cannabis space was influenced by my personal medicinal experience with the plant. Since being a teenager, I have suffered from debilitating migraines on a monthly basis. After having my third child, I found that my migraines worsened; they were more intense and more frequent. At one point, I was taking an Imitrex inhaler with me everywhere I went and ingesting around 10 Vicodin a month, and oftentimes I was still bed bound. Using a narcotic/opiate frequently became scary and, honestly, not sustainable.

About a year and a half ago, a friend suggested I try cannabis. After some trial and error, I found the right combination of CBD to THC for my condition—as well as a mix of products that I used together including a vape pen, tinctures and sublingual sprays. Today, I don’t use Imitrex or take Vicodin. I rely on cannabis to help manage pain. I also find it helps reduce the frequency of my migraines. Based on my experience, my husband, Mark, and I looked at pivoting our existing Telehealth business into the cannabis space. I guess the rest is history.

The KIND: How can HelloMD change the cannabis space for the better?

Pamela: If you have ever gotten your medical marijuana card at a traditional clinic, you know they are often not in nice parts of town, are usually clustered in larger cities, tend not to feel private, and the quality of care is often inconsistent. When we created HelloMD, we wanted to offer a convenient, affordable, private service that could reach people that might not otherwise have access to clinics.

I recently spoke with a man who had been housebound and was unable to get to a clinic. He had been on multiple narcotics for more than a decade for neuropathic pain. After receiving his medical rec from his HelloMD doctor, he was able to call a delivery service and started to use cannabis. For the first time in years, he was able to leave his house. I hear this kind of story regularly, and it's what makes me jump out of bed in the morning to come to work.

The cannabis industry is the first billion-dollar industry that is poised to have equality with women in executive and founder positions. 

The KIND: How are you working to change the demographics of cannabis?

Pamela: As a mom with kids, I am the changing demographic of cannabis. However, my initial response to the suggesting of using cannabis was to roll my eyes. My past experience went back to my early teens and had not been very positive. It didn't occur to me that cannabis could positively impact my health and that I didn't have to get stoned all the time. Once I was reintroduced to cannabis and the plethora of options within the marketplace, I realized that there was a place for me. It was not something to be ashamed of! Since that point, I've been advocating for women to take another look at marijuana as medicine. Cannabis provides an incredible toolbox; so why not use it!

We have seen the market for females grow roughly 10 percent in the past nine years. Within our patient database, roughly 36 percent of patients are female. We also see the older age demographics 55+ creeping upward. Cannabis is going mainstream, and this train won't slow down anytime soon. 

The KIND: Tell me about women in the cannabis space.

Pamela: Wow, the women in the cannabis space bowl me over, in a good way! The cannabis industry is the first billion-dollar industry that is poised to have equality with women in executive and founder positions. Women hold 36 percent of leadership positions within the industry, as opposed to around 20 percent in other industries. The women I meet are impassioned, powerful, fearless, and incredibly engaged. More often than not, they have an extraordinary personal story that propelled them into this industry.

This past week I met Constance Finley of Constance Therapeutics and heard her personal story of battling a debilitating autoimmune disease, which led her to develop an incredibly effective cannabis oil. Her cannabis oil now helps people with many late stage illnesses. She began development at a time where she might have been raided by the DEA or even imprisoned. 

There’s Eloise Thiesen of Green Health Consultants, a cannabis nurse who does one-to-one counseling patients with dementia and helping the elderly battle chronic pain. I also think of Tracy Ryan, a "Mom-cologist," as she likes to call herself, who's the founder of Cannakids. She treated her daughter Sophie, who had an Optic Pathway Glioma brain tumor, with cannabis oil (amid other protocols) with great success. Since that time, she founded her organization to help other parents in the same position.

Women Grow is a nationwide networking group and through the San Francisco chapter, I have met so many inspiring, fantastic, fun women. WG is relatively new and was founded in 2014 in Denver. When you go to a chapter meet up, you meet all sorts of people in the industry—dispensary owners, lawyers, growers, tech people, and a lot of women entrepreneurs. The thing is, everyone is there to help each other, and they actually do!

The KIND: What are your favorite strains to smoke? Where is your favorite smoke spot? 

Pamela: When I have a migraine, I will smoke ACDC or Cannatonic with my Firefly vaporizer or use a vape pen. I tend to smoke in my back garden, which I find relaxing. Depending on how I ingest cannabis, my tolerance and reaction to THC varies. My favorite product of all time is Foria’s new Relief. It creates a body high, not a head high, and it leaves you feeling relaxed, happy, and pain free.