Bethany Rondeau still remembers when debilitating migraines ruled her life. Diagnosed at the age of 14, her cluster migraines were often so bad, they would result in her temporarily losing some of her vision.
“I was given opioids for the pain but they made me nauseous,” said Rondeau, 28. “It was frustrating because there were days the pain was so bad I had to stay inside because exposure to light just made the migraines worse.”
In 2009, four years after her migraines started, Rondeau's doctor told her cannabis was being used as a treatment for migraines. Since pharmaceutical migraine medications didn't help her, Rondeau decided to give medical cannabis a shot.
Rondeau was unfamiliar with the health benefits of cannabis and learned that several studies found the active compounds in cannabis were more effective than prescription medication at reducing the frequency of acute migraine pain. Cannabis also had fewer side effects, according to one review of two Colorado clinics published in 2016 in the American College of Clinical Pharmacy journal Pharmacotherapy, as well as a study presented in 2017 at the third Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in Amsterdam.
Rondeau quickly found that cannabis helped her to manage, and even prevent her migraines. Inspired by her results, she and her husband, Justin Rondeau, began to grow cannabis on their property in Port Angeles, Washington.
“We couldn't find a consistent strain, so we decided to start growing our own,” Rondeau explained. “We found that a strain that we named Pacific Blue that was very effective in helping me to manage migraines.”
Pacific Blue continues to be one of the couple's premier strains. The pair describes the cultivar as an indica-dominant hybrid cross of Pre '98 Bubba Kush and DJ Short Blueberry that was backcrossed to Pre-98 Bubba Kush.
“I continue to smoke Pacific Blue and have found that it's a good strain not only for migraines, but also for mood relaxation, stress, anxiety, depression and stomach issues,” Rondeau said.
Starting a Medical Marijuana Delivery Service
Bethany and Justin opened a medicinal-use delivery service in 2012, selling products they grew themselves and taking their cannabis products directly to customers. Many of their clients also suffered from migraines and chronic pain. Some were fighting cancer.
In November of that same year, their business model and the Washington cannabis market changed when voters passed Initiative 502, legalizing marijuana. Like other growers, Rondeau began seeing falling revenues due to a supply glut. In addition, Washington state law prohibits growers from simultaneously holding a retail license and selling their products directly to consumers.
Knowing their medical clients couldn't continue to receive their medicinal cannabis after their dispensary closed, the couple received proper licensing and opened Falcanna, as the new brand for the same cannabis strains and products.
Demand has been so high that the couple recently bought an additional grow.
“We work hard to build relationships and to ensure our regular clients always have an ample supply of product,” Rondeau said.
This summer, the couple plan to hold “meet and greets” on their property at the request of her many followers on Instagram.
“A lot of people are intrigued that in addition to our Falcanna line, we also breed falcons and are master falconers,” said Rondeau, who got her first falcon at the age of 14. “We sell many of our falcons to clients in Dubai, where the birds are used for hunting and racing, and we also take in birds that have been injured. And after they are rehabilitated, we release them back into the wild.”
Today, she and Justin have 2-4 falcons each and recently hired a naturopathic doctor and falconer to oversee their breeding program. In 2015, Bethany was named the youngest internationally recognized exporter of hunting falcons. And with both their cannabis line and falconry, the couple say they believe in exceeding expectations.
“We have a staff of 30, are in the top 5% of producers in the state, and our products are sold in over 76 stores throughout Washington,” Bethany Rondeau said. “Our philosophy is we grow high-quality products that we feel good about consuming ourselves.”