In honour of Mother’s Day, Grow is talking to moms all week about cannabis use, how it’s helped them, and what can be done to fight the stigma.
Andrea Dobbs, an entrepreneurial-minded mother of three, never expected to work in the cannabis space. Now a co-owner of the Village Bloomery and a therapeutic cannabis patient, Dobbs promotes the importance of building safe and inviting spaces for people to interact with cannabis, whether they are using it medicinally or recreationally.
She opened a coffee shop in the 90s, a consignment boutique, and a children’s store featuring local artisan wares, before heading back to school for retail design.
Post-graduation, a job at a shop that focused on women’s sexual health allowed Dobbs to carve out a career creating unique and approachable shopping environments for her clients.
Daily Hive spoke with Andrea about her transition into the realm of retail cannabis, how being a mom has helped in the role, and how other moms can benefit from incorporating cannabis into their wellness routines.
Dobbs’s experience at the sexual health boutique gave her the chance to implement her design, marketing, and retail management skills to help “identify the things in the space that were kind of overwhelming.”
She found her talent crafting better shopping environments for her customers.
When transitioning to the cannabis market Dobbs saw that the “same kinds of topics [in sexual health] are relevant in the cannabis space.” Mainly, “how to speak about difficult topics and strip away taboo, and how to evaluate each individual’s desired outcomes.”
“When I had my own experiences around wanting to approach cannabis as a medicine or therapeutic tool, there was not much attention made towards creating a retail environment,” a place where you could feel safe asking questions, to look around and orientate yourself.
Identifying the need for a consumer-friendly store, Andrea decided that she “might as well go make one!”
The approach to the Village Bloomery, now in its third year of operation, was, “what if cannabis wasn’t illegal? What would that look like?”
Dobbs cites support from the community and the city with helping her transition into a market space she never expected to occupy.
Motherhood also helped prepare Andrea for a career in cannabis. “Being a parent taught me that patience and communication are key. I have to slow down when things feel complicated and push myself to say something in a different way so my voice is heard.
“I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the way some men approach business. There can be a lot of bravado and mansplaining that I find really frustrating.
“I also find a lot of innovative and creative men who are totally open to working with women and that’s really inspiring.”
Dobbs developed an appreciation for herbal and plant-based medicine from her mother, so experimenting with natural remedies was not a complete unknown.
“When I became perimenopausal, and I wasn’t sleeping well, and my libido was inhibited, and I just didn’t feel happy, I started to look at what my options were. I discovered that THC fits into the same receptors as progesterone and I thought, ‘oh there’s something there.’ ”
“I had itchy dry skin and that was fixed in a hot minute, I slept much better, I was able to get coffee out of my system with a sativa tincture. There were all these little tools I was able to explore and enhance my wellness.”
Andrea’s prior experience with cannabis was “little to none,” with some exposure as a teenager and in her 20s. A misguided attempt at using cannabis later in life had some undesirable results.
“I tried an edible for the first time and that was pretty dynamic. I drooled and it was awful and felt like everything was over for 6 hours. But at the end of it my body didn’t ache and I felt oddly happy and I slept really well. The next day I felt great and thought that maybe there was something to it but I probably didn’t need to take as much.”
Dobbs stresses the importance of starting “slow and low” and finding what works best for you.
“Microdosing is really good for me, and tinctures. I use inhaling more as a recreational outlet… but prefer low dose edibles and tinctures for my everyday application.”
“I was always known as the one who didn’t partake,” says Dobbs. Her friends and family were shocked when she decided to open a dispensary.
“I was 48 when I began so I was beyond worrying what people thought of me, and I had already worked in a women’s sexual health shop for 10 years—that was stigma.”
While Dobbs’s experience has been mostly positive, she acknowledges that some people feel pressure to hide their cannabis use. “I do see how concerned people are when they come to the shop. Sometimes they are really worried that their kids are going to find out or their partner, and that concerns me. We need to be in a place where we can be open about what we’re exploring and have a dialogue so we can ask the questions we need to ask. It shouldn’t be something closeted.”
Dobbs also notes that previous negative experiences left her hesitant to try it therapeutically.
“When I smoked I didn’t feel positive and would not have wanted to do that with my children.”
Microdosing allows her to remain clear, positive, and engaged. She also mentions concerns about smoking inside your home and modelling smoking behaviour to young children but that vaporizing and using extracts can be good alternatives.
Further research is needed, but there is much anecdotal evidence for using cannabis to treat morning sickness, postpartum depression, and overall wellness.
“I would absolutely explore tinctures, so you can start nailing down your own personal dose. If you get one that’s made well and has been tested and has its potency clearly laid out on the bottle and you can see all the ingredients.”
It can be very hard to properly dose with a joint since there are many factors that can affect the process.
“How was it rolled? How big was your inhalation? Are there pesticides or residual toxins in the plant? You want clean cannabis,” she says. “Perhaps start with a one-hitter if you’re using dried flowers.”
Low dose edibles can be a nice progression from tinctures. 7.5 mg THC pills are popular at the Village Bloomery since they are “just enough to take the edge off” but still keep you “really focused and optimistic.”
THC-infused bath bombs are “not intoxicating in any way but boy does your body feel relaxed. Your muscles feel wrung out like you’ve had a really good massage.”
Andrea suggests “after your children have gone to sleep, if you can soak in a bath bomb, the world becomes a better place.”
Pleasure oil is another cannabis-infused product that can be really lovely for moms.
“I think that’s something women struggle with, feeling like their libido and sexual health is being recognized when they have young children. It’s really challenging.”
The topical application doesn’t burn or tingle but “gets the blood where it needs to go” and enhances the experience of pleasure.
Schools still tout abstinence when it comes to drugs and alcohol, but it’s not an effective strategy.
“Kids know when you’re lying. Telling kids ‘not to do it’ isn’t going to go far,” according to Dobbs. “I don’t want my children to escape the world, I want them to engage with it.
“There are progressive and productive ways to use this plant.”
Having honest conversations with children doesn’t mean you advocate drug use. The purpose is to facilitate an open and honest dialogue.
“You can tell them ‘I’m afraid and I don’t understand this but I’ll learn with you.'”
“There’s this pressure put on moms to be superwomen and I understand that moms might feel torn about altering their state while they are parenting. That’s for every individual woman to come to their own terms with but I encourage them to look at self-care, and self-care includes feeling joyful.”
Dobbs says that “cannabis can be a safe and approachable part” of discovering or enhancing joy, and that’s something every mother deserves.