Interview with Chef Mike Delao: Changing Lives One Patient at a Time

Always a busy and fast-paced chef, as long as I have known him Mike has been running back and forth across kitchens in Southern California. Today he works at a wellness bar that gives seminars for the community called Earthly Juices helping people get healthy and detox outside of the medical cannabis realm. I chose to spotlight this chef because of his positive impact on the medical cannabis community, and the individuals that say he has greatly improved their quality of life. He selflessly donates healthy, medicated edibles to patients with cancer and other life-debilitating diseases. During our interview one thing was clear: this chef is passionate about cannabis as medicine, and the belief that as patients we need to come together and help each other.

Chef Mike

What is your personal experience with medical cannabis?
I was working at a high-paced job in DTD, doing several hundred plates a night. My shoulders were hurting and my left hand was going numb, and they gave me muscle relaxers and painkillers. I started abusing them right away. I read in the paper and it said “Chronic back pain? Come get the chronic!” I figured I was going to abuse my pain killers and I should probably try to go get medical cannabis. I went to the doctor and they told me that I was a perfect candidate for medical marijuana because I didn’t want to be a drug addict and I knew I had beaten other addictions in the past. The first clinic I went to was 420 Primary Caregivers. I tried his edibles and the potency was great, but the taste was horrific. I went back and offered my services in exchange for meds. I started making the edibles and we had a lot of product available for me to experiment in. I got lucky in the sense that I had so much to work with and was able to hone my skills as a cannabis chef.

What made you decide to donate to patients who were in need?
Valerie Corral of WAMM (Women’s Alliance of Medical Marijuana) has been giving away medicine since 1996. They grow everything outdoor and they only take care of the truly ill. Towards the end of my time at OC Collective, I got to meet her and Jack Herer, Dennis Perron, and they spoke to us about why the law was written. The law is not written to make money off of patients. It is written for those who need the medicine and if they can’t afford it they are supposed to get it for free. We changed the law to make it so that collectives and the people who provide the medicine can make money off of it. I don’t have to be gluttonous with my medicine. It doesn’t hurt me to give away medicine to people who are really in need. All that happens is maybe at the end of the day, I can’t put that extra glob of hash on top of my bowl. Cannabis isn’t worth $50 an eighth, it is worth $5 an eighth. My electric bill and nutrients, everything it is only $200 a month for many plants. That’s not what Jack wanted, that’s not what Valerie believes in. I do it more because no one else does, and the clinic that I came from in the beginning had at least ten patients at all times who were getting free medicine because they were sick and in need. If I can work a regular job as a cook and still afford to pay my light bill, rent and everything, and give help to patients for free, why do we charge patients for this medicine? I offer to patients everything they need to learn about medicating, making edibles, detox and healthy eating, I do not just provide medicine alone. I want to teach patients to take care of themselves. I wish every collective did an evaluation of every patient as they came in. There is a difference between keeping charts on a patient and doing intake. Vaping classes, health classes, why is it so hard to find a collective that is dedicated to patient health?

Chef Mike wants to know why we charge patients for cannabis? Why do we charge so much?

How would you describe the effect of your raw medicated food on the patients?
I would say that the effects I have seen: Less fatigue, healthier skin, more of an appetite, the Rick Simpson oil is more successful. Rick and Jack told us that the oil could cure cancer. Now I make patients grow their own meds and make their own oil. I can’t make enough to cure everyone, but I will show them how to make their own medicine. That is the better way. It is so much easier, better for me and for everyone. I have patients who have cancer; this guy I know just bought a house and he can grow his own meds now. He has been alive all this time off the meds I have given them. The raw and cleanse diet takes away the bodies need to expel energy on digestion, giving it more energy to use up on healing. Our body heals itself naturally, and if your body is only concentrating on the bad food you are putting in it, there is nothing left to heal. If you don’t take care of yourself in other ways, my cannabis is not going to help heal you. Your body needs natural energy and you can overload people on THC. You are still feeding the monster inside with the sugars and fats. When you eat a big steak, sure it tastes good, but think about how exhausted it makes you after. Think about patients and how exhausted you see them, just to get out of bed. They have a sugary, fatty breakfast. Being a stoner isn’t an excuse to eat bad food. You can have the munchies and still eat good, raw food. Instead of picking up a burger, eat a piece of fruit. You will get higher because your body is happy. Inside it is telling you thank you. When you eat fatty foods you get gas, bloated. I feel like I get way more stoned off my hash oil pills since I have been doing cleanses. Two years later, I eat no red meat, and when I ingest cannabis I get a way more potent effect. When I was eating meats and bad foods I was ingesting intense amounts of hash every day, all of the time I used to try and get super wasted. Now I can do it once a day or every few days and feel a more intense effect than before.

Are your edibles available in any local dispensaries in California?
No, because I think I can do more good on my own. I can do more by helping patients by a one on one basis and for free. The reason why I don’t have edibles anywhere is that I won’t put sugar, I won’t put preservatives, I will only do raw food. You can’t just think about the THC, you have to think about the health. As edible makers and collective owners we are treating patients. Even if we are not doctors or nurses we are still treating the patients. I will not subscribe to the belief that just because we put medical marijuana in it, it is good for patients. It is not medicine if we put sugar. I tried to come out with a raw line already and no one would buy it because they wanted edibles that can stay on the shelf for a week or more. I got sick of the collectives and the greed. There is no one to trust in the collectives any more. It is so hard to find a collective that will work with me for patients, with my diet plan and exercise programs, no one wants to do it. That’s why I believe I can do better on my own rather than in a dispensary.

What else is on your plate at the moment?
I am trying to create and would love help with the Cannabis Gastronomic Society. I want to get chefs together and have patients come and buy a plate from us. Once a month, we could come together, collaborate on a menu, and celebrate good food and good cannabis. We need to come together and talk about what medicine is, and the difference between cannabis food and cannabis medicine. Most cooks out there are making stoner edibles, not thinking about making healthy and effective edibles. Most chefs and collectives think that their strains are their property and we need to move away from that. We need to share knowledge and medicine freely. If a patient has a recipe for a tincture that they make and it’s helping them but no one will listen to them b/c there is no way to make money off of it. As chefs, it is our responsibility to come together and have great meals made, show all we know openly, and share the knowledge that we have acquired. My meal is different than anyone else’s. The plants should be for everyone. The meals should be for everyone. How many chefs are out there making store bought mix, and calling it medicine when it is just sugar and fat? These chefs are hurting the industry because the doctors will never give cannabis as medicine if the medicine is a bunch of sugary junk. We will never get legitimacy if that’s what we allow. We need to be more invested in patients and teach them how to grow healthy food and good cannabis plants.

Anything else you would like to say?
I want everyone to go back and read Prop 215. Explain to me where it say we can profit off of patients, where it says I should jack up the price and give less potent medicine so I can make more money and advertise more? Explain to me where that is and then I will think highly of collective owners who make millions. I have put out calls to the community where I had patients stuck at home, sick and dying and I couldn’t make it, and no one would go and help them. The clinic I came from, we were taught to go and help the [patients. I was sent to hole the hand of a wife whose husband was dying in front of us. I am disgusted with the industry, places don’t care about patients… they don’t care about medicine; now they only care about stoners and stripper poles. Why is the street dealer becoming more knowledgeable than the average chick who works at a collective? Problems like this only bother real patients. If you are there to get stoned, of course the current state of collectives is awesome to you. Putting the money in front of the patients doesn’t help people. Now I understand why my old boss Steve used to kick out the pot shoppers who weren’t real patients. At some point we have forgotten what is important.

Please remember Earthly Juices is a health and wellness bar that does not offer any services or product to or for medical cannabis patients. They do have great detox programs and it is a great way to get your body aligned and heal. Please do not come into the store and ask for cannabis. You can contact chef Mike directly at ediblesbymike@msn.com.

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