Located in Westwood Village just blocks away from UCLA and across from Whole Foods, Sunnyside Collective sees a range of patients from the surrounding community including students treating the anxiety of college to cancer patients seeking cannabis to ease the side effects of their treatments.
MERRY JANE stopped by the westside collective to chat with Carrie Lester, who seven years ago moved to Los Angeles from Pennsylvania to pursue a career in music.
MERRY JANE: How did you get your start in the cannabis industry?
Carrie: I started using cannabis while I was attending music school to help with anxiety and soon realized it really provided great relief. I previously worked in customer service and after visiting a few collectives and seeing the people behind the counter I thought, "I can do this!". I love to talk about cannabis, I love to help people so I felt like it would be a great fit.
MJ: What does your family think about your career in cannabis?
C: My mom couldn't be more proud. She really sees the benefits of cannabis and how it helps with a lot of different things. Even though she works for a pharmaceutical company, she's happy I'm working in this sector of the medical industry offering natural remedies.
MJ: What’s your favorite part about working at Sunnyside Collective?
C: Being able to help people. My father passed away from lung cancer, which is why I have a passion for helping cancer patients and people who are really sick using cannabis as a treatment. We get a lot of patients coming from Cedar Sinai Hospital and UCLA medical center. There is also a rehab facility that's actually located right behind us, so we are having doctors in the area recommend us as the go-to collective.
Photos: Terrell Young/MERRY JANE
MJ: Which medications do you recommend for your patients?
C: It depends on what type of relief they are looking for. If it's more of a pain related ailment like arthritis, sciatic pain or side effects from cancer treatments they are going to be looking for something high in CBD. For cancer patients edibles or vape cartridges will be the most beneficial option. Other patients come in and need help sleeping so I’ll suggest a nice indica flower as a sleep aid or maybe even a tincture. If a person is dealing with depression, I’d say a sativa or a sativa dominant edible to boost their mood.
MJ: How do you like to medicate?
C: Smoking a bong is my favorite way to medicate. But I'm a singer, so for health conscious reasons I try to make sure my voice isn't being damaged by the heat of the cannabis when I burn it so I've been gravitating towards a vaporizer for flower and for oil.
Also, I’ve been trying to incorporate more edibles into my routine because it's just better for my voice to stay away from the burning sensation when you are combusting the cannabis.
MJ: What’s your go-to edible?
C: My favorites are the Breez Mints. They come in a tin and are 5 mgs each. If you eat lunch and want something fresh to put it your mouth it's like an altoid. An hour later you're feeling a little happy and stimulated and you're like, "What did I smoke?" "Oh it's the mints I tried an hour ago and it snuck up on me" They don't taste like cannabis at all.
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MJ: What’s the most memorable patient experience you’ve had?
C: The most impactful experience I've had here is when I'm helping someone who comes in with cancer or a severe ailment. They've tried treatments, they've tried medications, they're looking for relief of any kind. For me personally with losing my father to cancer and wishing then I had access to what I have now. Even if it couldn't save his life, it could have at least made him more comfortable during his treatment time. Through these patients I feel like I'm able to vicariously help my dad.
1045 Gayley Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90024