Deidra Bagdasarian refers to cannabis as both a “healing herb” and a “therapeutic aid” – or, in other words, an arguably essential ingredient absent from conventional wellness retreats.
“Cannabis allows you to feel safe. It allows you to get real vulnerable real quick, by letting you take off your mask and bring down all those walls we put up around strangers – especially other women,” Bagdasarian, the founder of Bliss Edibles, tells Civilized.
“When we talk about progress and empathy and equality and deepening our values as a society, cannabis is a tool in the toolbox to help promote all of that.”
It was with this idea in mind in 2016 that Bagdasarian founded Ganja Goddess Getaways (GGG), a series of overnight retreats for women who are interested in using cannabis as a “creative and spiritual tool.”
From cannabis-infused activities like yoga, painting, belly dancing and meditation to engaging panels on body positivity and the role cannabis can play in women’s health, all the offerings at any given GGG are focused on “connecting women to each other and to the [cannabis] plant.”
“We’re really trying to promote this sense of community that is predicated on each individual taking wonderful care of themselves and giving themselves what they need, so they can in turn look around and give to their world what it needs,” says Bagdasarian.
“I think cannabis is 100 percent essential for what we’re trying to create here because... it allows us to heal and grow ourselves.”
Bagdasarian believes the potential cannabis holds as a therapeutic tool has yet to be appropriately explored – something she hopes to do in her own way through her thoroughly modern wellness retreats.
“Right now, cannabis is only being offered to us as a recreational [tool] or as a physical medicine – but it has so much potential [for mental health] that’s not been embraced on a widespread scale yet because people are just simply unaware of it as a possibility,” she says.
Limiting the events to female participation was important to Bagdasarian because “cannabis [remains] a boys club” – despite women being “on the rise” in the industry.
“When I got here in 2009 and started my business in California, I was very much the minority as a woman in weed, and so I’d always kind of fantasized about creating an event that was for women – instead of an event where most of the women in the room were hired for the way their bodies looked,” says Bagdasarian. “It was clear to me that the space was curated for a man and not for a woman. I wanted to see a space in cannabis that was curated for a woman.”
As Bagdasarian and her business partner began planning their first GGG, it quickly became apparent that they were “not alone in [their] need for an authentic, safe space for women to connect and use cannabis.”
Given society’s propensity to raise girls to fear and distrust their female peers, the demand for this kind of event makes a lot of sense, adds Bagdasarian.
“As women, we’re so conditioned by society to be afraid of the women around us. The media portrays us at catty and mean and bitchy, and so we see other women as necessarily trying to compete with us when they’re just trying to be our friends,” says Bagdasarian.
“Your most warm and snuggly relationships are with your girlfriends and your sisters and your mom. That’s possible to foster with all women, and cannabis has been key in allowing us to create the safe space where they can just be themselves and connect with each other from that first puff, puff, pass."
Ganja Goddess Getaways will host its next retreats in March at locations in both northern and southern California. There are 12 events in total planned for 2018 in both California and Oregon.
“We want [participants] to walk away feeling like a ganja goddess, like every time they smoke weed will be a new experience for them because there will be some intention with every puff,” says Bagdasarian. “When we use cannabis in this way, we’re taking time for ourselves and bringing an authentic love and positive approach into our lives, which we can then spread within our communities.”