Building Bridges Between Cannabis and Female Consumers

Narrowing the gender gap, and gathering female minds, has never been more important than it is today.

As it stands, women make up 36 percent of leadership positions in the industry. When it comes to consumption – however – 56 percent of women, and 43 percent of men report using cannabis, according to the Cannabis Consumers Coalition’s (CCC) 2017 Consumer Report.

More women are using cannabis than ever before; as a result, more feminine products are becoming available. And while some companies focus on marketing to the female consumer, Ellementa is determined to educate and empower her.

Ellementa is one of the fastest growing, female-founded businesses of its type in the cannabis space. The nationwide company works by gathering networks of women in cities all over the U.S., including Los Angeles, Anchorage, Phoenix, Boston, San Francisco and regions like the Central Valley of California.

Ellementa events have occured in more than 25 cities, and counting, since May 2017. The company even has plans to expand into Canada soon.

Gatherings, which range from five to upwards of 50 women per event, are often described by attendees as warm, intimate discussions. Sessions feature conversations on topics like “Cannabinoids for Pain and Sleep,” “CBD 101 for Women,” and “Cannabis and Spirituality.”

Each meeting focuses on sharing information and anecdotes, and connecting women to people and products.

Ellementa is the network and resource that many — including the company’s co-founder, Aliza Sherman — wish existed years ago. “Because it didn’t […] we created it,” she said. Founders include Sherman, Melissa Pierce, and Ashley Kingsley.

“We create an environment where women [and those who identify as female] can speak candidly about very personal health issues,” Sherman said. “We realize that when you put testosterone into a room with estrogen, the chemistry and dynamic changes. It is no longer the same environment. Not better or worse, just different.”

In February 2018, several Ellementa events covered “Cannabis and Sex,” explained Sherman. “The conversations were lively, honest, even funny at times, but overall extremely informative. Many women were relieved to be able to talk about vaginal pain during sex and learn that cannabis and CBD could help.”

The most popular topics tends to be “Cannabis and Pain Relief,” said Sherman. “So many women are suffering in silence and cannabis […] can help relieve their pain and, in some cases, help them heal.”

Sherman grew up in the “Just Say No” era. She was drawn to the cannabis industry shortly before co-founding Ellementa.

“I’ve been a digital marketer for 25 years and was looking for a way to expand my consultancy,” she explained, “I’m also a futurist and [am] paid by clients to identify trends and predict where things are going with technology and marketing.” A few years ago, she identified the cannabis industry as an emerging market, and began pursuing business opportunities.

“Little did I know how similar the cannabis industry was to the early internet industry,” she added, “Wild West, scrappy startups and all. The last two years have been an incredible ride. I love this industry and the people I’m meeting in it.”

Meeting others in the industry is how to she came to embrace cannabis as medicine for herself.

“The first thing I did when I started exploring the cannabis industry was to interview women in the industry and publish Q and As with them on a site I created, Her Canna Life,” she said. After attending a few Women Grow meetings, she realized her “burning questions weren’t ‘how do I start a cannabis business?,’ rather, ‘can cannabis help me with my chronic pain and insomnia?’”

Once she learned the answer was yes, she thought ‘why don’t more women know about this?’ So she built a platform where others could also learn.

“[I replicated] something I had done back in the 1990s — bring women together to teach other women about the internet,” Sherman explained. She pitched her idea to entrepreneur, Melissa Pierce in Chicago, and shortly after that, brought Ashley Kingsley onboard.

The female-founded company works to build resources, and help people integrate cannabis into their lives safely, and comfortably.

Part of this model is gathering women at the local level, “because there is tremendous power when you put women in a room and provide them the forum where they can share stories and their innate wisdom,” said Sherman. “We want to bring Ellementa to as many women as possible – in both places where cannabis is legal but also where it is not.”

AnnaMaria Reidinger, Central Valley Ellementa organizer, said that “women are the gatekeepers of health within their families, nurturers by nature.” Those who care about health will lead the way toward change for good within a family or community, she added.

In the Central Valley, she said, the community “could use a strong educated group of women coming together to focus on the medicinal benefits of cannabis removing stigma caused by decades of misinformation.”

Reidinger lives in Turlock, California, a town with rural roots, and a steadily growing, diverse population. The city recently banned commercial cannabis sales, and use, within its limits.

With opiod use and misuse at its highest, Reidinger noted, and the need for alternative medicine increasing, “it’s time for open conversation through education on self-care with cannabis, by women,” she added, “And by this conversation, I am hopeful Ellementa’s incredible educational platform will encourage change to local restrictive policies everywhere as we band together.”

An educated woman is a natural advocate and activist, said Sherman. “If you put better information about cannabis into the hands of women, everyone benefits — the women, their families and loved ones, their friends, their colleagues, their community.”

In the future Sherman said she hopes “Ellementa will be the brand women turn to in order to understand how cannabis works and how it can — and should — be a normal part of our lives.”

For more information about Ellementa, including gatherings in your area, visit Ellementa.com

Emerald contributor since February 2016


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