Sonoma County’s Garden Society caters to ‘canna-curious’ women
Siri has led me a mile down a lonely dirt road that’s got more holes than a wheel of Swiss cheese. We’ve already blown past several angry looking “No Trespassing” signs and a squirrel clearly irritated by the intrusion.
As we pull up to a rusty building surrounded by dangerous-looking farm implements, Siri chirps: “You have arrived at your destination!” I’ve already established that it’s doubtful we’re at the cannabis-focused garden party I’m looking for. No sane woman is climbing over a broken tiller in heels. Even for marijuana-infused chocolate.
Seeking out an invite-only gathering hosted by Garden Society CEO Erin Gore takes a bit of perseverance for a first-timer. Held at a private home (Siri finally found it after some backtracking) the cannabis-focused gal-gathering is somewhere between a Tupperware party and a speakeasy - a convivial show-and-tell with a wink-wink covertness.
Aimed at women who are seeking relief from both everyday stresses and deeper discomfort associated with chronic pain via microdoses of cannabis, Gore’s Santa Rosa-based marijuana edibles company uses social gatherings like this to both inform and engage.
According to a recent study by Eaze.com, women are one of the fastest growing demographic groups of cannabis users, and their numbers include large numbers of parents and seniors. “The data shows women are turning to cannabis to reduce or replace their consumption of alcohol, prescription opiates, and antidepressants,” said the study.
“Women are looking for an alternative to pharmaceuticals,” said Gore, who first used cannabis to manage pain after several hip surgeries. She was reintroduced after years of international travel and jet lag left her feeling exhausted and sick, but found that many of the high-THC products in dispensaries were too strong.
Instead, she threw parties for girlfriends where they baked homemade cannabis edibles made with much smaller amounts.
The results were so favorable, she decided to pursue other recipes and Garden Society’s confections were born.
From sleeplessness and anxiety to arthritis and back pain, Garden Society’s low-dose organic confections are aimed at functional relief rather than epic inebriation. Their Bliss Blossoms are handmade organic chocolates infused with cannabis oil containing 10 milligrams of THC per piece and are recommended for relaxation.
Bright Blooms are organic fruit and herb gelees that contain 5 milligrams of THC per piece that utilize a more uplifting cannabis strain.
As mothers, grandmothers, and caregivers, however, many of the women at the event say they’re looking for some trustworthy information about the potential benefits.
“We are connecting with women at an intimate level, with small parties where they can ask questions,” said Gore.
“By starting conversations, women can ask questions and it makes them feel more confident. They want a place that’s safe because all of us have something we’re trying to manage.”
Wandering among the 40-plus guests, guests are reticent to give too much personal information, but are eager to talk about why they’re interested in Gore’s products.
Not all guests imbibed in the product, and many were just canna-curious.
“I don’t use regularly,” said Leslie, a guest at the party who preferred not to use her last name. ”My friend brought me, and I’m curious,” she said.
Legal recreational marijuana use began in California on Jan. 1.
“We all have kids,” she said, nodding to other women standing nearby. “Sleeping is an issue. We all have stress, but want to try something natural,” she added, echoing a common concern of party-goers who didn’t want to smoke or inhale cannabis.
“I was never into pot,” said Cindy, who also asked not to use her last name. “But marijuana has so many medicinal properties. I’m open to the alternatives,” she said. “I like the idea of such beautiful packaging, or the low dosing for relaxation and insomnia,” she said.
As the evening progresses, Gore addresses the rapt audience as they sip chardonnay.
“There are some really bold statements about cannabis right now because it’s not regulated (yet). So you really want to educate yourself,” she says. “In dispensaries, you may find a lot of higher-dosage products, but our edibles are designed for a new or casual user - a low-dose consumer,” she said. “It’s not the cookie you eat and stay high for three days.”
While there is no smoking, vaping or tell-tale pot haze at the Garden Society event, women in attendance admit that marijuana still carries a stigma that’s very real.