Recent GLACA News



Medical Cannabis - My Hope for Life


Yamileth Bolanos, President and Founder of GLACA

Dear Friends and Patients in the Medical Cannabis Community,


In the spirit of beginning our activism with our stories of patient advocacy, let me introduce myself more fully. As a dispensary operator and President and Founder of GLACA, I have tirelessly worked to extend the benefits of medical cannabis therapy to other patients like myself. Like many patients, I began using cannabis as a last resort, and strongly believe that therapeutic use saved my life. If we can remove the stigma surrounding this medicinal plant, perhaps people can have greater chance of surviving serious diseases like cancer and organ failure and many more can improve their quality of life.


My medical history is complex to say the least. After a lifelong struggle with difficult menstruation, when I was 24 years old I was diagnosed with cancer of the uterine lining and underwent a complete hysterectomy. At 31, I became insulin dependent and at 38 was diagnosed with end stage liver disease after dental pain and fear of the dentist caused me to abuse acetaminophen (more commonly known by the brand name Tylenol). I was on a softball field with my daughter when I first collapsed from internal hemorrhage of the esophagus, a recurrent condition that threatened my life several times.


I waited three and a half years for a liver transplant, stringently following the rules doctors lay out for transplant patients. Although I lived in LA, I traveled to Northern California and was successfully transplanted with a healthy 19 year old male liver in 1996 at Stanford University. After the transplant I suffered severe allergic reaction to the anti-rejection drugs given to me at UCLA and was confined to my home in pain and discomfort for almost 4 years, despite again rigorously adhering to the post-transplant therapy prescribed by my doctors.


My first experience with medical cannabis, which until then I had rejected because of my desire to be a good mother to my daughter, changed my life. The first time I medicated I immediately felt relief. I have said many times that it felt as if I was a little girl again, after my appendix surgery at eight, and my mother was rubbing the soles of my feet to comfort me. It was as if I had been wrapped in a warm blanket, and the pain and discomfort that pervaded my body dissipated. After prolonged use, many of symptoms that kept me at home abated, and I began to be able to live a full and active life again. The number of prescription medications I take has been drastically reduced.

Since cannabis allowed me to resume a normal life with my family and community, I decided to give back through activism and education. I have worked and lived my life to honor the cannabis plant as medicine and bring this information and this gift to the masses. I opened one of the first medical cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles, Purelife Alternative Wellness Center, and in 2006 founded and became President of the oldest continually-operating medical cannabis trade organization in the country, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance.


As a cannabis activist, I am engaged in two current personal projects. First, to end discrimination on the basis of cannabis use for transplant patients, I and my California ASA allies have pushed to get SB 258 sponsored in the California legislature to ensure that non-discrimination is the law, a proposition that has the support of the California Medical Board. Please sign the petition in support of this important bill now if you haven't already!


Second, I have launched an educational seminar for the Latina/o community on medical cannabis use, and our first event was in Studio City on February 4, 2015. It is my strong belief that the Latina/o community has suffered greatly from the prejudice and hysteria surrounding marijuana use and “reefer madness”, and only through education can the Latina/o community come to benefit from the therapeutic properties of this amazing plant. Cannabis has given me quality of life, and the desire and will to live and go forward, as well as my good overall health today. I am excited to share this and much more with you, as we continue this journey together.


Pura Vida,


Yamileth Bolanos

President and Founder

Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance


Celebrating the 18th anniversary of my liver transplant with my daughter and the Dodgers.


The Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance


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