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Cannabis tourism in California – a women’s wellness retreat with puff love

 An in tents experience … guests at a Ganja Goddess Getaway take part in a workshop

Wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Mary Jane Smokewear”, a woman with long, grey pigtails crawled towards me, offering a hit off a balloon bag inflated with marijuana vapours. I was sitting cross-legged under a Ganja Goddess Getaway-branded gazebo on a perfect California afternoon and it was the umpteenth time that day that a stranger had come over, unprompted, to share their weed.

The bag was just one way my fellow ganja goddesses were getting high. Plates piled with spliffs, giant blunts, laced caramel-pecan candies and fruity mocktails enhanced with pot-infused tinctures also made the rounds. At one point, I was handed a wizard pipe packed with a “tiramisu”. Where a domestic goddess might use cream and ladyfingers, a ganja goddess gets “baking” with alternating layers of green and hash.

This is a canna-holiday, California-style. After new laws permitting recreational marijuana use came into effect in the state on 1 January, canna-visionaries wasted little time integrating their product into the region’s aspirational aesthetic. You can tour the “sun-grown”, “craft” cannabis fields of the north’s Humboldt County while in Los Angeles marijuana chef Chris Sayegh plans to open the city’s first “high cuisine” cannabis restaurant (working name: Herb).

‘Mama’ Sailene Ossman, one of the getaway’s co-founders serves edibles as part of the retreat
 ‘Mama’ Sailene Ossman, one of the getaway’s co-founders serves a weed-laced sweet treat.

The women-only Ganja Goddess Getaway bills itself as a wellness retreat with a (herbal) difference. The retreat itself is in the woods near the coast at Pescadero, about an hour’s drive south of San Francisco. At the end of a long dirt track, in a meadow surrounded by redwoods, I found about 135 “goddesses” engaged in a ritual of “puff and pass”. Twentysomething girls sporting cannabis-leaf-motif leggings shared bongs with middle-aged women dressed in loungewear. Others passed spliffs around the hot tub, lined up for henna tattoos, or got cannabis oil massages. Two friends who had “followed” the pungent aromas all the way from Chile snored peacefully through a Laughter Yoga class.

The getaway’s five co-founders are a diverse mix: CEO Deidra Bagdasarian is also the entrepreneur behind award-winning cannabis confection company Bliss Edibles, while event co-ordinator Trish Demesmin was an administrator at Oakland’s cannabis business college, Oaksterdam, and is now president of a medical cannabis delivery company. “Mama” Sailene Ossman is the company’s head of public relations and attributes her nickname to “being famous for bringing the food and the weed”, while married couple Kelli Valentine and Ciera Lagges complete the quintet, the former as in-house filmmaker, the latter as chief creative officer. Together, they all preach cannabis as a “meditative and spiritual” plant.

Bagdasarian’s vision for the getaway has changed since it launched in 2016 (when only women with a medical marijuana card could attend).

“In the beginning, I just wanted it to be a good vacation, like a stoner-girl slumber party,” she told me. Soon, however, she noticed the women were undergoing “transformational” experiences, “So I wanted to foster a space where women can use cannabis as a tool for self-improvement.”

Deidra Bagdasarian, co-founder and CEO of Ganja Goddess Getaway
 Deidra Bagdasarian, co-founder and CEO of Ganja Goddess Getaway

This makes the retreat less a group slump in front of Netflix and more a series of wellness seminars wherein the crowd passes weed around while listening to talks with topics such as Give Plants A Chance. During this, Bagdasarian recounted the inability of Prozac to assuage her depression. She railed against accepted norms of big pharma, sugar and a culture of chemicals. But cannabis, Bagdasarian said, was a healer. Everyone was paying attention until a butterfly flapped into the gazebo, drawing an en masse, distracted “woooah”.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Laura Chubb on The Guardian

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Published: May 16, 2018

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