At their first meeting, this gentleman so amazed Linda with his vitality, experience, knowledge, and wisdom that she asked for an on-the-spot interview to capture his infectious personality for our podcast audience.
Pharmacist Gilbert (Gill) Wiese is the owner of Wiese Pharmacy & Natural Food Products Shoppe in Jacksonville, Florida. He is 85-years young, still goes to work every day, runs marathons, and gets involved in politics. Whew! Just try to keep up with him! You will be amazed at his energy. Thankfully, he still uses that energy and wisdom to make a positive difference as he works to educate employees and others on the benefits and responsibilities of living in our free country.
His decades of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, coupled with his passion for natural and integrative health practices, has led to unique perspectives on politics and public policy. In addition, an unexpected but insightful comment from a young pharmacy intern exemplifies why employee education regarding the foundations of our prosperity is critically important, especially at this time in our nation’s history.
Linda J. Hanson: Thank you for joining us. Today my special guest is someone that I just met but I'm so impressed with I wanted to share his life and experiences with our podcast audience. I'm speaking with Gilbert Weise or Gil Weise from Weise Pharmacy in Jacksonville, Florida. He is a registered pharmacist. He is also a compounding pharmacist, a consultant pharmacist and a veterinarian pharmacist. I find this gentleman extremely amazing...
Gilbert Weise: And homeopathic.
Linda: Yes, and homeopathic pharmacist as well. He focuses on holistic and functional medicine, all natural plant based materials. This gentleman is eighty five years old, he still runs marathons and if you could see him like I'm seeing him now you would be saying to me that you want to do everything he does to stay healthy. So, he is quite an example but I asked him to be on this podcast also because I realize he’s had a rich history in impacting policy for the pharmaceutical industry and the natural health industry. He is the past president of the Florida Pharmacy Association, the past president of the American College of Apothecaries, he is a founder of the Professional Compounding Centers of America which started with four people and now has grown to twenty thousand people and is a global organization and a little trivia, he was Pharmacist of the Year for the state of Florida in 1998 I believe.
Linda: So, with that I just like to welcome Gil to our podcast so--
Gilbert: Hi everybody. This is Gil but really I am Gil the Pill from Jacksonville. Everybody in the United States probably knows that word or that acronym so, if you go to pharmacies somewhere, independent pharmacy and say I know Gil the Pill, they will probably say, “I know him too”, so...
Linda: And he is from Jacksonville.
Gilbert: Right on.
Linda: So, we are speaking to you today from his natural pharmacy here in Jacksonville, Florida and I would tell you if you can get to this place please do. It's quite an experience. Tell me a little bit about your history before this podcast interview began we were discussing how you were a supporter of Ronald Reagan and we talked about how his economic policy was really changed and transformed through workplace education when he worked at General Electric.
Linda: And I know you have a background from Germany so there is...
Linda: A lot of reasons why you have chosen to support liberty and freedom and constitutional principles here in America.
Linda: So, tell us more.
Gilbert: So, I have to back up a little bit further than that because my dad came from Germany early in the 1923 but then he returned to Germany and did some work over there and came back in 1933. I was born in 1934. I was in a German home that required that if you didn't speak German you wouldn't be in the home. So that's the way it was, the aunts, the uncles, dad, mom, everybody spoke German. When I came to Jacksonville, Florida, I learned how to speak English because the teacher said, “What is your name?” and I said, “My name is Gilbert Nelson Viesa.” She said, “Not acceptable.” Suddenly I learned how to speak English but fast forward, my dad said the reason I got to America was because I was more or less kicked out of Germany because of my faith in Lord and God and because of my Weise, W-E-I-S-E name which was so close to the Jewish, W-E-I-S-S. They suspected that I was Jewish. My father's daddy Abel Weise the first, decided he’d come to America. They left everything they had and they came to America unbeknownst to government and set up their practice here in Jacksonville, Florida. My father said--
Linda: Unbeknownst to the German government?
Gilbert: And so, as we talked year after year. He said, “You know, if you don't get into the politics of America you are going to doom yourself. You will never make it without being into some sort of politics and help direct your government the right way.” He said, “This country is going just like Germany. You have all this synthetic foods and junk and stuff. It's not worth it.” And so, we decided we’d go the natural way. That's why I'm in the natural business of pharmacy and the other reason is that my pharmacy license that I obtained in 1960 says, “You are a registered pharmacist.” That's what we were called in those days. After many years the younger generation looked at that and they decided they didn't want to do that. So, they changed into clinician pharmacies and insurance pharmacies and all sorts of things that broke away from that word. And then we, the older generation went to the legislature and said, “we want to be called Consultant Pharmacist.” From there, this thing becomes even more interesting because in the politics of the thing, the government could see that we were heading in a direction which was contrary to what they wanted us to do. So, they were always knocking on our doorstep, “what are you doing?” “Well I was in natural pharmacy.” “Well that's not approved by the FDA. So that's not going to work” And so, they kept on in a way I would say harassing us or bullying us to not do what we are doing. Taking away products off the shelf that were perfectly legitimate and good for the public and we went to court many, many times and the question to me was, “If these products that you sell are not FDA approved, how do you feel about that?” I said, “I feel the same way about those products as I do the grocery stores of the United States. Nothing in there is approved by the FDA, we still eat it.” And so, these products that I have in my store have been around for years. I can just make one example, a company called Standard Process is this year ninety years old and the thing about that is that most of you do not know, the company Standard Process. They are a whole food based organization or company that has a farm in Paloma, Wisconsin and they too have to fight for their right to do what they do. Their claim to fame is on their product line, they do not make any claim as to what is in the bottle. And so, it will say something like, “Saw Palmetto.” And you should know what's saw palmetto is for. If you don't then you are a dead duck. The idea is that we needed education and I see this as the most needed thing for the American public right now. To be educated as to what is going on in the United States of America regarding healthcare especially independent pharmacy and especially the health food shop industry and all those things which are what I call the holistic way or the functional way or the whole plant based food way. So, what we are looking at this year is going back to those years of liberty, justice, freedom and that sort of thing. With the Ronald Reagan era when he was here then I was much, very close to him in the politics and even with Newt Gingrich in those years. And as it went from president to president, it started trickling down worse and worse and that's because we, even the pharmacist group were giving away our freedoms and our rights because we were trying to legislate everything away. That's not the way to do it. You have to do it a different way, not legislating your rights away and trying to straighten up the mess that's being created. So that's where we are today.
Linda: Fascinating. You just, I wish we had so much more time to do this podcast because I'm sure your wisdom of your eighty five years and what you have seen, not only in Germany but in America would speak volumes to everyone. So, we have talked a little bit before the interview about regulations and how they not only affect your industry with pharmacy, in the pharmaceutical industry, excuse me, but also this is a family run business. I understand your son is following in your footsteps and his daughter is following in his footsteps.
Linda: And so, what do you see that can, in terms of policies that impacts your family business? Is it taxes? Regulatory things? What is most critical for you to be able to pass this business onto your family?
Gilbert: Well it probably started, probably ten years ago with the regulations became more and more, more and more regulations for pharmacy. We call us the most regulated profession in the United States. We have the Agriculture Department in here, the Weights and Measures people in here, the-- whatever you say. There is always somebody at the door handing their—
Linda: All the letters of the alphabet come in here to inspect you.
Gilbert: --everything that you could possibly think of. And we try to get along with these people and it seems as though they are not listening. That we are pharmacists, we are professionals and we deserve a little bit of respect. They don't give us the respect, even the time of day most of the time. And we find that going forward I see, we have, in my store in particular, well let's say in the city of Jacksonville, we have lost over six independent pharmacies in the last three years just because of the pressure from the authorities to say they can't do this or that and imposing fines on them which are so great that they can't maintain their business. So, you lose the cash flow. We even went through a period like that in 2015 but we managed to survive. And the only reason we survived that is because we are a little bit different than most independent pharmacies. Our pharmacy is attached to a natural food store. But this works very well, for instance if a person comes in for a specific disease state, maybe they have diabetes or something like that. If I catch them at the door, I can tell them, maybe don't want to take that much of the diabetic medicine, maybe you want to change your diet and correct that a little bit. Well there is nothing in America that says diet has anything to do with it, everywhere that you turn is fast food, fake food, funny food, fried food, fast food, fatigue food and nobody ever cares about salads about--
Gilbert: --you know some good whole food nutrition so that's also an issue but going forward on the regulation side, it's only getting more and more tedious for us as pharmacists to maintain the right to do what we want to do.
Linda: Is to truly help people. Right. Ok, typically policy is often dictated by the money that pays for the lobbyist and things to get to the decision makers but hopefully there are those on Capitol Hill and in the decision making walls of government that would really understand that these policies can truly help people and that when we have a healthier citizenry we have a healthier nation. So, what would you tell these policy makers and the legislators who are trading laws? Your top line thought for them.
Gilbert: Since I'm really in the minority in this because I'm one pharmacist who believes in natural products and natural manufacturing and natural companies. So, we deal a lot with whole food products. The other side of this is that the pharmacist doesn't know anything about natural things if they were my age--
Linda: The typical pharmacist, yeah.
Gilbert: --of eighty five yeah, they got a pretty good education than that. The newer generation doesn't really know too much about an herb, or a supplement, or a weed, or a seed, or anything like that. I have an eighty five year history because I learned this from my family. So, my son--
Linda: And a rich heritage.
Gilbert: My son is doing well in that but here is the other part, that is too hard to learn at an age of the, new graduates coming out and they look at me as if I'm cuckoo. A pharmacist consulting in a health food store, health environment that doesn't really fit.
Gilbert: So, getting involved, being active in your local pharmacy association but also getting involved in the politics. I mean down nitty gritty.
Gilbert: Learn your--
Linda: Grassroots level.
Gilbert: Learn your representative, learn your legislator, learn your national offices and things and get to know them on a personal basis.
Linda: Hmm mmm. So, they understand your industry.
Linda: And then as you have had many, many, many employees over the years, how have you sought to educate them on these issues? Like the very same thing, how to impact policy, I obviously realize that by example you have taught them cause your life has been quite a--
Linda: Quite an example for them but when you've talked to them about going further with their career and being able to impact policy so that their jobs can grow, they can become more prosperous and they can grow up in a free society. What has been your recommendations to them?
Gilbert: My recommendation is exactly what I said that they have to get involved. They have to be interested in doing something like this. Unfortunately, a greater part of pharmacists, I would say maybe sixty percent don't really care because they are making so much money or salaries on the outside level in big box doors and hospitals and wherever. And they don't get the opportunity to do personal work with a patient such as we do. And the other part is that we the independent pharmacist don't have room to carry those sorts of people. We have in our room right now, an intern that's trying to get a little grip on what we do here. I'm sure it's very confusing to stay here for four weeks and say, “Those people are different.”
Linda: And just for our listeners I’ll just point out there is an intern, a young woman who is in pharmacy school and she is here smiling at us as we do this interview and when it was mentioned that the new pharmacy students aren't really taught any natural remedies or natural cures, for illness, she nodded and said she really had never learned anything like this. So again, if you are listening to this, not only think about this in terms of the impact in policy as, we talk about with all the Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics™ programs but think about it in terms of your own health--
Gilbert: There you go.
Linda: And in your--
Gilbert: That's the bottom line.
Linda: And in your, yeah, the health of your children and grandchildren and just because something is approved or something is, you know what everybody else does, doesn't mean it's going to work for your body and so I know being able to find practitioners or integrative practitioners who really look at the root cause of things is a very, very important aspect of good health. And so, with policy, you have seen this change over the years too. Has it ebbed and flowed in your career? Where some, because I know there is administration policies where regulations are… Our current administration, they’re really working to decrease the regulatory burdens on businesses and industries so that consumers are still protected but that there is a greater opportunity for business owners to be profitable and therefore provide more jobs and more benefits to their employees.
Gilbert: Absolutely. So, when you look at it from that point of view then in 1978 I had an opportunity to start a company called, Professional Compounding Centers of America. I wasn't the only one there, I said myself but it's probably four or five or six or ten of us that started Professional Compounding Centers of America. So, we would have a niche to provide medications to people who had difficulty swallowing pills. We could make it liquid, we could make a lollipop, we could make a suppository, we could make a cream, we could make a gel, a lotion or whatever, but as started doing that we found also that if we are going to do this, there is a difficulty with the government really understanding what we are trying to do to break away from the pack. So that more regulations came down and so the compounding pharmacies today has more regulatory problems and does just the plain independent pharmacy on the corner.
Gilbert: So many of the compounding pharmacist in the last four years have really been put out of business just because they have been harassed to death and like I said before the fines that we have been imposed upon us and the, I would say unfair way of saying that we don't, when we make a product over there in the compounding shop it's not FDA approved. Well the School of Pharmacy taught me how to compound so it's part of my licensure.
Linda: Right, right. Well and it's difficult to think that people who are in the halls of the capital and often don't know anything about your industry are the ones making the decisions and the laws. So that's why these things that you did like, being you know the past president of the Florida Pharmacy Association, the past president of American College of the Apothecaries, you know the founder of this professional Compounding Centers of America. These types of organizations are very, very important so we encourage everybody who is listening, if you have a professional organization that can--
Gilbert: Get with it.
Linda: Yeah, that can really represent you but also in terms of teaching the employees in the next generations, I mean, we really have to be more proactive about that and for our listeners again, our young intern that's sitting in our room, which I will not mention her name but before this, you know, on our podcast we talk about the need for constitutional literacy. And so, we weren't just talking about her pharmacy education but in all of years she's never read the constitution. How old are you? Twenty four years old. And she has never read the United States constitution. So, this is why I'm doing Prosperity 101 Breakroom Economics™ because honestly people go and they vote and they have no idea what they have no idea what they’re voting about or the freedoms they are voting away. And so, we must, must, employers if you are listening, I beg you please be bold. We do not have to tell people how to vote but young people are not hearing the truth about what makes this nation prosperous. How they can be prosperous and what freedom really means and what we need to do to protect it. And you are a great example of this in terms of what went on with your family. So, you’re nodding--
Linda: I see you have something you want to say so go ahead.
Gilbert: Well, I keep on to say it but then all of a sudden when you would say what do want to say? I don't know what to say but--
Linda: Happens to all of us yeah.
Gilbert: We are, we are still on the front lines. At eighty five I'm still on the front lines of politics and I go to Washington about three, four times a year just to make my voice heard about some bill--
Gilbert: That makes absolutely no sense at all to the American people and you got to get in there and fight for every right that we have not to let it slip away and let some politician say, “I think I can handle this little—“ they don't even know how to spell “pharmacist”.
Linda: They don't know anything, right.
Gilbert: Some even spell it with an F.
Gilbert: I went up there one time and said, “I'm with the Farmer's Association.” They said come right in. When I said when I went for Pharmacy Association they said, “No you can't come in.”
Linda: You know I have a friend who worked on Capitol Hill many, many years ago and he worked on an egg committee for a congressman and he said that, and he was like twenty two years old, twenty three years old, whatever but and he was from mid-western state but he said after he got through that committee meeting he realized that the young people in the room who were helping to advise the congressman on which policy should be, you know brought forth that that young person would not know the difference between a white tail deer and a Guernsey cow. And that was the egg committee and so, now having worked in politics for many years, I don't want this to be a slam on any of my political colleagues or friends but we all know people who are not educated, maybe on what they’re making policy about. So, for those people too, please take your job seriously because we need you to understand the constitution, we need you to understand the freedoms that made America great. And someone like Gil who could come here and make a living, make a life, build this family business and still has the opportunity to be prosperous enough to give back to his community. And here is a little piece of trivia you haven't heard in this podcast. I wanted to be sure and throw it in here, is he still running marathons and you still run the-- What is it called here, “The Gate”?
Gilbert: 15K National Championship for forty three years.
Linda: Oh, unbelievable.
Gilbert: I'm running it, but it's a little slower every year.
Linda: Well I'm not eighty five and I've slowed down. I'm still running though, oh that's great he is just see the inspiration and I hope that you have been inspired. Someone who came from Germany, their family came from Germany they understand the value of freedom. He has been involved in politics since--when was, you first became involved in politics?
Linda: 1967, right and you have been involved ever since?
Gilbert: Ever since.
Linda: Right. Well he embodies what we say with Prosperity 101™ which is, understanding the foundations of porsperity, the policies of prosperity and how to protect prosperity by becoming informed which you’ve done--
Linda: Involved and then impactful. Make a difference.
Gilbert: Absolutely, make a difference.
Gilbert: And never, never give up.
Linda: Never give up, yes. So, with that we’ll close and thank you for joining us for this episode of Prosperity 101 Break Room Economics™.
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