On a recent lovely night in New York City’s East Village, women gathered in the back of a hip, dimly-lit apothecary, surrounded by shelves of artfully packaged products.
The room soon filled up to near capacity, and the talk titled Cannabis, Womanhood and Motherhood began. Attendees had each paid $25 to hear a pharmacist, a doctor and a cantor-turned-pot evangelist extol the virtues of weed for wellness from their own personal perspectives.
In shops and yoga studios in cities all over North America, these gatherings are taking place each month. They’re the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Aliza Sherman, who dubbed her women’s network Ellementa.
Way back when the Web was the new, new thing—just on the cusp of becoming a life-altering, multi-zillion dollar information space—Sherman made a name for herself as Cybergrrl with her international networking group, Webgrrls, evangelizing the net and gathering women eager to harness the power of technology.
Now, decades later, she’s launched a similar woman-focused movement around the canna-curious green rush. Just as it was during the dot-com run-up, Sherman’s thrust is on sharing information and networking from the femme perspective—and consulting with marketers eager to reach that audience.
“Bringing cannabis and CBD to women is the right play,” she said in a recent interview from her home in Alaska, where, she points out, growing marijuana for personal consumption has been legal since 1975.
Alongside widespread legalization, Sherman believes women—particularly women over 35—are just what pot needs to make it ultimately go mainstream. After all, she said, it’s women who make the majority of healthcare decisions in the home, from children, to partners, to aging parents: “If you bring anything to women, they will disseminate it in a more meaningful, more accessible, more emotionally based way. To me, it’s a no-brainer.”
In a column she writes about cannabis and wellness for Hello MD, Sherman’s talked frankly about middle age and menopause, painful sex that results from the changes in a woman’s body, and insomnia—and how cannabis and CBD products can help address all three issues.
“Women who come to meetings are like me, desperate for a solution, desperate to get rid of chronic pain, desperate to navigate menopause with more grace, desperate to be able to have the conversations so that I’m not looked at as some sort of pariah,” she said. Her experience has armed her against bias. Her quest to normalize pot and associated products today is not unlike her quest 25 years ago, when venture capitalists told her, “Are you sure women are interested in the Internet? My wife doesn’t even go online.”
Despite Ellementa’s focus on mature women, all ages are welcome at the salons. This was evident at a recent gathering about pot and fitness in Sherman Oaks, California, where barre instructor Kim Hoy discussed how she uses CBD products to address pain and amp up focus. Amongst others in attendance were the 73-year old mother of facilitator Karin Clarke, a trained cannabis care wellness coach, and several twenty-something women who’d come with their moms. Some of the women in the room were veteran pot evangelists, others were newbies there to learn for themselves, or for products they’re launching—like a cannabis-infused hummus.
A spirited discussion lasted well past the talk’s posted end time, with a wide-ranging talk on sobriety and cannabis products, and how CBD oil helps with everything from PMS to seizures and cancer to irritable bowel syndrome.
Mobilizing this enthusiastic army is just what Aliza Sherman intends to do.
“I feel a sense of urgency,” she said. “I see things happening a lot faster than they did with the Internet.”