Misinformation is one of the greatest issues faced when talking about medical cannabis and cannabinoids. There is a lot of wrong information out there that can be confusing and misleading to patients, some of who can be society’s most vulnerable. PlantEd Collective wants to change that.
Jade Proudman, Carly Barton, Liz Dyer, Abby Hughes and Victoria Logan share a passion for helping people understand holistic wellness practises, led by cannabis and it’s efficacies, using the very latest research from around the world.
Their goal with PlantEd Collective is to create engaging dialogue and provide accurate information to help educate people — starting with their December launch that includes Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein.
We spoke to them about breaking stigma, the re-education process and the power of the female.
Why do U.K. cannabis consumers need PlantEd Collective?
Liz Dyer: Each member of the PlantEd team brings very a different experience, from activism and education to yoga practitioners and boundary breakers. As cannabis consumers, we understand this space and most importantly, we understand the consumer needs and barriers to accessing cannabis information. Cannabinoid consumers in the U.K. are awash with information that is often misleading and fraught with challenges.
Jade Proudman: We see the real-world implications of this daily. There are barriers to CBD suppliers sharing information about medicinal benefits due to regulation. There are also legal barriers to discussing medicines containing THC. The information that makes it to U.K. consumers is often outdated and not practical. There is currently no safe, reliable place for consumers to digest the latest science, or educate themselves from a place of independence.
How will PlantEd Collective help break the information barrier between plant and people in the U.K.?
Carly Barton: Our not-for-profit scheme hopes to tackle this head-on. Many organizations are focused on educating policymakers and medical professionals in a top-down approach. We want to fill the gap in a ground-up approach, building knowledge within the consumer community so that choices are made from a place that is informed.
We aim to tackle this by providing access to digestible summaries of scientific developments, enlisting the engagement of high-profile researchers and developers to bring conversational content via accessible podcasts
We will design short courses to enable consumers to teach themselves and increase the knowledge base from the ground up and provide resources for families and children to instil high-quality education and dispel the tension that so often exists in a family when dealing with stigma.
How does PlantEd’s information differ from, say other sources like scientific journals?
LD: Much of the information out there is wrapped up in weighty, medicalized documents. We would like to think that you won’t need a medical degree or a library full of cannabis books to digest the information that we will be providing. We will be engaging with the community on what they would like to know more about and provide that service.
CB: That’s a big issue and efficacy and safety information is so often presented in very inefficient ways. Either the research is too complex to understand, or it comes from the recreational arena which is full of jargon and cultural terminology, for which you often need a translator to get your head around.
Let’s take consumption methods as an example. There are hundreds of studies done on vaporized cannabinoids, but there is nowhere that will break this down for patients. What are the risks and benefits of vaporizing over different consumption methods? Where do I go to get a vaporizer? How do I dose using one? What are the benefits of dry herb vaporizers? Do they cause lung issues? And what on earth is ‘dabbing’, RSO, FECO, AVB? Vera from three doors down would not know where to start!
JP: We feel that the combination of our collective education, experience and advocacy work means that we can disseminate, signpost and summarize these burning questions into practical steps meaning barriers to accessing the information are more easily broken.
Victoria Logan: We also recognize that our further specialisms in health and wellbeing — yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices — enhance our holistic approach.
What are some of the topics you plan to cover?
LD: We are currently developing a PlantEd curriculum with wide-ranging topics. We want to address the basics and give consumers a route to engaging with more advanced topics.
For example, a consumer may come to us for education on the endocannabinoid system and then perhaps take a short course in terpene therapeutics. For supporting consumers with anxiety issues, with Victoria’s expertise, we can offer support with breathwork and yoga sequences combined with information on plant-based approaches.
What are the most common misconceptions you hear about cannabis?
CB: All stigma comes from a place of conditioning following years of mass media hype that has systematically pushed down the benefits of cannabis and blown the risks out of all proportion. A lot of the stigma comes from a place of ‘all drugs are bad’ and there is seemingly no academic basis for this argument. It exists because that’s what people have been told to think.
Cannabis consumption in the U.K. is often associated with either anti-social behaviour or connections to the mental health risks, which when compared with readily available drugs like alcohol, caffeine and sugar, are extremely low.
LD: Funnily enough, the stigmas that exist around cannabis do vary from country to country; in Thailand, their argument has nothing to do with mental health, they are concerned that they would have lazy workers.
VL: We often hear that cannabis consumers are unproductive, yet we feel more productive now than we have ever been and that comes down to cannabis education.
CB: The most common question I am asked when speaking about the benefits of cannabis and my health is, ‘Aren’t you high all the time?’ which I find interesting, because I felt MUCH more inebriated when consuming opiates. The alternative for chronic pain patients is heroin-type drugs.
LD: And no one ever visits a hospital patient with some grapes and demands to know if they are high on their prescribed medication.
Why is it important that PlantEd Collective is the only entirely female-led collective in the U.K.?
VL: In Hatha yoga, we are taught to practice with balance in everything that we do, the breath, postures, the balancing of the Lunar energy: the female, with the Solar energy: the male. Everything in life needs balance.
The PlantEd Collective are the balance which is really needed currently in the cannabis world because cannabis culture has been a male-dominated space for many years. We have only just started to see real change in the U.K. following the emergence of female advocates. The law was only changed, after all, because mothers desperately petitioned to get access for their children.
CB: There is a change in the image here from cannabis being associated with ‘teenage boys on BMX bikes’ to ‘women advocating for wellness’ that brings about a different energy with which to step forward. Women are nurturers, mothers, friends, sisters. There are no aggression tactics, instead there is knowledge, support and unwavering determination to get stuff done.
When we talk about cannabis, we are talking about a female plant.
LD: Yes! So who better to advocate for its powerful qualities?
Why join forces to create PlantEd?
Jade: Whilst we have been extremely fortunate in our respective fields to be given the opportunities to learn and grow, something really dynamic happens when we work together. Where one is lacking in knowledge or experience, another team member jumps in and fulfils that need. We have all been very aware of each other’s work for some time, however, it took us all accidentally coming together as a panel at Trewfields (a cancer festival) to really understand that our combined specialisms make up such a massive knowledge base.
VL: It was a particularly emotional and challenging panel that day where we found that we were able to not only answer every question that came up, but that we could utilize each other to create a conversation that brought about much more than off-the-cuff responses. Without any preparation or discussion, we provided real ‘spade-a-spade’ insight and were able to reference case studies and highlight specific research for patients who were in dire need of education and support.
LD: We are delighted to have already been booked for next year’s Trewfields Festival.
Liz, you’ve written two children’s books which the collective plans to release. Are you developing any other services aimed at families?
LD: Yes, there are more in the pipeline! This is something which is very close to our hearts and we have experienced, first-hand, many of the issues raised in the books. We know how difficult it can be to open a conversation about this with those we love, those with whom we work and sometimes even with ourselves. These books aim to bridge that gap. There will be supporting materials available alongside the books and we will open an online forum to aid discussion of these subjects. We will host family days and events to provide support for families and normalise the use of plant-based medicines.
The first book, ‘Only a Plant’, is an accessible text for all ages which explains how useful a cannabis plant is in general — from the perspective of the plant itself. The second book, ‘Mum’s Medicine,’ is narrated by a child whose mother has chosen to replace a plethora of prescribed medications with a plant-based approach. The books provide a starting point for engaging in dialogue and supporting education and understanding. These books are important because they mirror real-life situations currently affecting children and families who choose cannabis as medicine.
CB: These books are so desperately needed. Kids don’t have the same negative associations with the plant and when it’s explained appropriately, they instantly understand why it is so important. My nine-year-old nephew reviewed Liz’s two books and got a lot out of them. He then asked for a plant medicine book for his birthday, so he can find out more about other plants that help people. That is truly very special. It is important that as we enter a new paradigm in embracing natural treatment methods, that we build resources in to educate people from a young age.
How will the digital platform integrate health and wellness?
VL: We each utilize cannabinoids and other plant medicine alongside other wellness practices. We hope to do a series on companion herbs and their uses, including documenting our own supplementary regime for patients interested in exploring alternatives to pharmaceuticals. As a Hatha Yoga practitioner, I teach a range of techniques and am in the process of developing resources for companion practices that work synergistically with cannabinoids to realign the body’s energy and boost pathways to wellness and mindfulness.
You will soon release a podcast, can you reveal some of the guests you have lined up?
CB: We can’t say too much about our Podcast plans yet, as it is rather top secret! But we think it’s safe to say that we have some incredible people lined up for our series. We will be having a cup of tea and a chat to some of the world’s most high-profile researchers, scientists, authors, doctors, master growers and innovators.
Tell us about the PlantEd Collective launch event in London featuring Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake, makers of ‘Weed the People’.
JP: We are ecstatic to be welcoming Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein to the team for the night of our launch. These amazing women have witnessed the power of cannabis as medicine and produced a film that the world needed to see. We will be playing some clips of ‘Weed the People’ on the evening and having a fireside chat, all together, about the content and how it relates to the situation for consumers in the U.K. We will host an audience of patients, carers, doctors and industry leads to join us in a conversation about the route to access, education and the reduction of stigma, for the benefit of generations to come.
5 Tips for Owning and Operating Successful Cannabis Dispensaries
The cannabis retail landscape has changed. Once regarded as somewhat of a novelty, legalization has allowed cannabis dispensaries to evolve into modern and innovative retail storefronts more akin to an Apple Store than the dark, secretive spaces they used to be. Some, like Shiny Bud, are proving to be leaders in the space, setting an exemplary standard of a contemporary cannabis retail experience.
Shiny Bud is one of Canada’s most successful dispensary chains. They pride themselves on offering customers a premium experience from the moment they enter, from a contemporary and inviting store design to highly trained staff, and of course, premium products.
Co-founder Alex Ledesma joined the cannabis industry when the Canadian government passed the Cannabis Act in 2018. She comes from a forward-thinking family of entrepreneurs, so the move to cannabis was an obvious next step.
“I saw an opportunity to be part of something big in Canada’s history, so we started following the industry, and applied for an application,” said Ledesma.
Shiny Bud opened its first dispensary in Toronto on February 14. Fast forward only a few months, and the company has opened the doors to its fifth location in a small town called Orleans, just outside of Ottawa.
“We have a pretty aggressive rollout,” said Ledesma. “Coming from a quick-service industry, we’re quite comfortable with builds and finding locations. We took our expertise from that and put it into cannabis. And it’s all completely within the family.”
Shiny Bud was awarded 75 dispensary licenses by the Canadian government. The company’s expansion plans include two more Ontario store openings this year, bringing the total number of store openings to seven. And they have no plans to slow down.
“We should be hitting 30 stores by the end of 2021. And we’re planning on maxing out to 75 stores allocated. When we stop to think about it, it can take our breath away.”
The constant march forward of legalization has created an ever-growing interest in dispensary ownership. Below, Ledesma offers up five pieces of advice for those looking to enter the cannabis game.
1. Have a Well-Trained Team That’s Focused on Customer Experience
As the industry is still so young, formal education in cannabis is still relatively scarce amongst prospective employees. For Shiny Bud, this presents an opportunity to reinforce one of their most important business objectives: provide cannabis education and training for their budtenders to pass on to their customers.
“Education is everything because the industry’s so new,” Ledesma said. “We truly believe that we’re an industry where we need to listen to our guests. This is one of the first things we teach our budtenders, along with providing a safe and educational experience for our customers in-store.”
For many customers, the biggest value in going to a dispensary is learning which products are best suited for a specific condition or effect, whether they’re seasoned cannabis consumers or newly curious.
“The goal for budtenders at Shiny Bud is to ensure customers are choosing the right product for them to provide a safe experience both in-store and at home,” Ledesma said.
2. Create a Guest Centric Environment
This goes without saying, but customer service is critical to the success of any retail operation. Ledesma attributes Shiny Bud’s success to the brand’s core vision of providing a “fast and friendly cannabis retail destination.”
“We strive to offer our customers a unique and memorable experience — this has stayed with us since day one,” Ledesma said. “When you walk into any of our Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries, they’re bright, they’re big, and there’s a lot of education. The budtenders are dressed uniformly, and there’s personality — it’s not what people expect.”
Watching the change in customer demographic has been encouraging to Ledesma, who notes the increase in the 60+ demographic looking to add cannabis to their health and wellness, whether it be recreational, or to aid with a specific ailment.
“As a disclaimer, we always have to tell them that we’re not doctors and we can’t give them medical advice, so to start low and go slow,” Ledesma said. “It’s nice to see people like my mom, my dad, and grandparents come through the door, because you also know you’re helping break down the stigma.”
3. Stock the Best Inventory
With so many quality products now available, choosing which ones to bring to Shiny Bud is quite a lengthy process.
“We carry out a lot of research in terms of what’s new or trending, and what our customers are looking for in each location,” Ledesma said. “I wish I knew consumers’ buying preferences before our initial order was placed. We ended up buying too much!”
“We also use recommendations from our team members, our budtenders, and our customers. A lot of times we bring in representatives of the licensed producers to educate our budtenders about the products we’re selling.”
The three most popular purchases across three Shiny Bud locations are dried flower, vapes, and pre-rolls. “Our most frequently asked question is, ‘what is your highest THC or CBD?’” Ledesma said.
4. Have a Great Location
The age-old proverb of “location, location, location” rings true in the cannabis industry, too. Finding the right real estate is arguably the most important part of retail success. Plus, because of the industry’s prohibition history and the nature of the products being sold, it’s important to find understanding landlords.
“Initially, landlords have said to us, ‘absolutely not, we will not entertain the idea of having a cannabis retailer here,’ so I invite them to take a look at one of our dispensaries so they can see the vision of what and who we are as a company and as an industry.”
5. Ensure Your Cannabis Dispensaries Connect with the Community
Dispensaries are already major focal points in their communities. For Ledesma, giving back and helping break down old stigmas related to cannabis is a top priority.
Shiny Bud is in the process of launching a collaboration with Tsaichedelic to create a line of tie-dyed tees and other merchandise. The proceeds will go towards supporting Cannabis Amnesty projects, like providing legal counsel to get those with criminal records over minor cannabis charges expunged.
“Being a woman and a person of color in the cannabis space, I really believe in the fact that it needs to be the same playing fields for everybody,” Ledesma said. “Teaming up with Cannabis Amnesty just felt right.”
With the regulated cannabis market still so new, it’s important that business owners are able to adapt to changes and weather the ever-changing landscape of cannabis and the regulations.
“It’s ever-changing, so we’re constantly learning and growing from it,” Ledesma said. “Regulations are always changing, so being fluid helps a lot.”
Look for Shiny Bud cannabis dispensaries in Canada and keep an eye out for their expansion into America in 2021.
Gwyneth Paltrow and a Slew of Celebs Invest in ‘Social Tonic’ Brand, Cann
Gwyneth Paltrow is one of several high-profile celebrities investing in cannabis-infused beverage company, Cann.
Rebel Wilson, Ruby Rose, Darren Criss, Tove Lo, Casey Neistat, former NBA star Baron Davis and Bre-Z have also invested in the company.
The actress and Goop CEO and founder calls cannabis a “hero ingredient of the future” for wellness and says she was drawn to Cann’s drinks, which are infused with small doses of THC and CBD, as an appealing alternative to alcohol.
“There’s a whole sober-curious movement that’s going on and the cannabis-curious movement that’s going on, this is kind of at the intersection of those things in a way,” said Paltrow.
Cann is not the health and wellness moguls’ first cannabis investment. Paltrow admitted that while she’s not a big cannabis user personally, she acknowledges its “amazing medicinal qualities.”
“There’s no reason why alcohol should be so much easier to purchase than Cann, and I’m confident the founders will lead the charge in finding ways to integrate it into the same purchasing channels and drinking environments,” she said via a news release.
Cann founder Luke Anderson called the comments made by Gwyneth Paltrow “a sign that Cann (and microdose beverages more broadly) are a viable answer to that very common consumer pain point.”
He added that when people think of Paltrow, “they don’t think of ‘weed’ – they think of cutting-edge solutions for today’s health and wellness needs.”
Cann has positioned itself as a “healthy” and hangover-free alternative to alcohol. Most of Cann’s “social tonics” contain roughly 30 calories and are “microdosed” with 2 milligrams of THC and 4 milligrams of CBD. A recently introduced Pineapple Jalapeño flavor contains 50 calories and 5 milligrams of THC.
Earlier this year, Cann secured $5 million in funding as part of the company’s 2020 production and distribution expansion plans for 2020.
According to TechCrunch, the beverage startup has sold 150,000 cans, which retail for $4 each, since last May. Cann products are available at just 60 dispensaries in California, and online via the Eaze cannabis marketplace, making the $600,000 in revenue the company generated in less than a year even more impressive.
Miss Marijuana: Canadian Beauty Queen Alyssa Boston Is on a Mission to End Stigmas
Alyssa Boston is a woman on a mission. The 24-year-old Canadian beauty queen is using her platform to start a conversation on ending stigmas around mental illness, competing in pageants — and cannabis.
While she doesn’t actually smoke weed, Canada’s crowned Miss Universe caused a media uproar when she wore a sparkling cannabis-inspired look during the 2019 Miss Universe competition in Atlanta, Georgia.
Cannabis Aficionado spoke to her about breaking stigmas, social media and of course, that costume.
CA: How was your Miss Universe experience?
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