Toula Poulopoulos, a Greek-American from Chicago, went to Los Angeles to work in the world of fashion design — and ended up becoming a marijuana expert in West Hollywood.
She is the manager of Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHSWEHO), which opened its doors to patients and the public back in 2004. It is one of four officially permitted medical and adult use marijuana dispensaries which are allowed to operate in the city of West Hollywood.
“I came to LA to do children’s fashion. From that and into this business is such a huge difference,” she told the Greek Reporter.
She relates the story to the Greek Reporter of how she was invited into the marijuana business by “Dr. Dina,” who opened Alternative Herbal Health Services. Dina, a powerful advocate for mainstreaming medical marijuana, is beloved by hundreds of Hollywood celebrities despite retaining her strict privacy. She is not an actual doctor, but Snoop Dogg bestowed the nickname on her years ago, and it stuck.
Poulopoulos says she decided to make it a mission of hers to help people who came to her for advice regarding the healing aspects of cannabis.
“I am so happy for what I do for a living… I realized that what I loved to do is helping people that are in pain,” she says.
The Chicago native explains that people come to AHHSWEHO from other states to buy Cannabidiol (CBD), a naturally-occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis, to help themselves or relatives who have cancer.
“This beautiful flower has so much medical use, nobody even understands yet,” she says.
AHHSWEHO has customers from all walks of life who live with various illnesses and conditions including AIDS/HIV, cancer, glaucoma, CP, multiple sclerosis, and scleroderma.
The facility also tries to help those suffering from chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, Seizure Disorder Insomnia, autism, eating disorders, skin disorders, Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Crohn’s Disease.
Poulopoulos admits there is a stigma attached to working in the industry. She reveals she was scared to tell her old-fashioned Greek family what she was doing in West Hollywood.
“They were so strict… My parents hated it. When they caught me smoking, they threatened to take me to rehab,” she laughingly says.
However, things changed when her sister was diagnosed with cancer. After her initial panic, Poulopoulos talked to ‘Dr. Dina’, who advised her to fly over to Chicago and administer CBD oil, a cannabis product.
“Her cancer is in remission for the last three years and she now has a little baby,” Poulopoulos says.
“This is when my parents found out what I am doing for a living. I sell marijuana. I made my parents sit and watch a video of how marijuana can help people, so they could have the knowledge before judging again,” she explained.
She told the Greek Reporter the hilarious story of administering weed to her mom one night to help her sleep. “You know Toula, I think your marijuana stuff might have worked,” her mother told her the next morning.
Poulopoulos by any measure is a brave and adventurous woman. “I am the first in my Greek family to leave the house without being married… I was always special,” she says.
And she is also fond of her Greek roots. “I would love to go to Greece and have my own dispensary… Maybe Mykonos or another island. I can picture it: ‘Toula’s Weed Talk.'”