Who is the woman who got Snoop Dogg smoking cannabis legally? And who inspired the character Nancy Botwin from the Showtime series Weeds (though she didn’t approve)? Her name is Dina Browner, but she’s affectionately known by her patients as Dr. Dina. Dr. Dina, while she is not an actual medical doctor, she earned her nickname when she started Los Angeles’ first cannabis collective. More recently she began consulting for up-and-coming cannabis businesses, as well as for cannabis-themed TV shows. Shows like Sons of Anarchy and the most recently released Netflix Original Series Disjointed have both benefited from Dr. Dina’s expertise. CULTURE spoke with Dr. Dina about her career in cannabis and what it’s like working with Hollywood power players like director Chuck Lorre and actress Kathy Bates.
“ . . . I saw my friend who had cancer, unable to hold down his pills because he was so nauseous and couldn’t take his chemo. After taking a couple puffs of this joint, his demeanor changed completely.”
What convinced you of cannabis as a viable medical treatment?
I think it’s when you see it with your own eyes. I’m one of those people who [was] like, “Sure there’s anecdotal evidence of it?” I didn’t believe it at first. I remember when it first passed [in California] in 1996, I heard a doctor talking about how medical marijuana had benefits. And I remember rolling my eyes like “Yeah right, people just wanna get stoned” Then I saw my friend who had cancer, and was unable to hold down his pills because he was so nauseous and couldn’t take his chemo. After taking a couple puffs of this joint, his demeanor changed completely. He went from his face being sallow and so pale, to having a little bit of color back in his skin. And he stopped dry heaving, and his stomach started growling and was able to eat. He actually kept the food down, which was the first time he’d eaten in two weeks. When I saw that I went, “Oh my god, it’s true!”
My grandmother had passed away from cancer. And I always wanted to help her. I was so young, I think I was 13 when she passed away. I remember sitting in the waiting room at the hospital thinking, “I wish I had a superpower, I wish I could heal her,” and [cannabis] made me feel like I had that superpower, and I needed to embrace it.
What’s it like working with Chuck Lorre and Kathy Bates? Do they consume cannabis in real life?
When Chuck walks into a room, he demands your attention. He’s so smart, the way he sees things. He sees it in a way that we don’t see things, because his brain operates on sitcom, sitcom, sitcom. It’s just so interesting to watch him work. I find that so fascinating. Here’s a guy, who is the most successful executive producers of a TV show ever. Of today’s age, he’s like the Norman Lear. Chuck is very famous for being sober. He’s been sober for a long time, and he’s a big advocate of being responsible. So he’s sober, and I’m very proud of him for that, but he is willing to embrace a show about cannabis. So, it just goes to show you that cannabis is stepping out of the shadows, and it is being seen as a medicine, which is really cool.
And then we have Kathy, who has very openly said she is a fan of cannabis and has been “practicing” even more since she took the role of Ruth. But she is the cutest thing ever. She carries her little vape pen around with her, and she announced on set that she uses her own vape pen, she likes to bring her own to work. She is so talented. Watching her work, it’s like, this is Misery. When she first came to work, everyone was terrified of her. And she plays it up. When she walks in, she’s real straight-faced and looks like she’s gonna kill you. Then after a second she breaks and smiles and gives you this big hug, and you’re like “Oh my God!” But she is just a boss. She is so classy. She is old Hollywood.