by Raelina Krikston
In the sleepy coastal town of Pescadero, CA, tourists drive up and down the shore to watch sea lions basking on the nearby rocks. The wind whips around and licks your face with a wet, salty kiss like an excited puppy. Follow the road into town and through the hills, and you will come across the forested getaway, Venture Retreat Center, where the first Ganja Goddess Retreat is being held.
This was the scene before us as my friend and I arrived to the Ganja Goddess Retreat, a women-only event centered around the spiritual uses and benefits of cannabis.
We had the opportunity to attend the event, and in the morning after interview Deidra Bagdasarian — founder of the Ganja Goddess Getaway, about how she hopes to change the perception of cannabis in the public through women’s empowerment and education. Although this is the first year of the event, Deidra is no stranger to cannabis, she is the founder of Bliss Edibles and has been an instructor at Oaksterdam University before she created MYM Events, the parent company to Ganja Goddess Getaway.
THC Mag: First off, thank you for holding an event that has such a strong, empowering energy to it. How did you develop the idea for the Ganja Goddess Getaway?
Deidra Bagdasarian: My husband and I have owned Bliss Edibles and Extracts since 2009; then, we had a baby. When I was on maternity leave, away from the bakery, away from the day-to-day, I felt disconnected from my community and I was trying to figure out how to be a mother to a baby girl. I wanted to show her what women are, and really be the best version of myself. So I started thinking about what I really wanted, something I hadn’t thought about since starting Bliss Edibles, and Ganja Goddess turned out to be what I really wanted.
As I started, magic started happening and I realized that this is what a lot of people want. Women don’t really have a place in the cannabis community. When I went to go find the women in the female cannabis community to tell about this, they weren’t there. There’s a women’s cannabis business network, but I’m not trying to help you start businesses, I’m not trying to teach you to grow weed. I want to normalize cannabis for our culture through women smoking it. The only way that women are going to normalize it is if they understand everything that can be done with the plant. I want to create something that focuses on the creative and spiritual uses of cannabis because no one is having that conversation.
THC Mag: Ganja Goddess is just the beginning, what are your plans for other events under your parent company MYM (Maximize Your Medicine)?
Deidra: We want to create a series of events that all celebrate the same part of cannabis. Something that celebrates the personal use of the plant to make yourself a better person.
Maximize Your Medicine will be the next conference that we put on, we want it to be the “TED Talks of Weed”. We want to really create a space where we can have conversations about cannabis that don’t have to do with growing and selling, but rather using it and making yourself better through using cannabis. People are consuming it, but they’re doing it in their closets or their bathrooms. Let’s talk about how we can use this as a culture to make our culture better.
We started the event company in January of this year. Everyone that we’ve contacted has met us with overwhelming support. The community has been ridiculously positive. I’ve never done anything and gotten this kind of response from it. It’s really exciting.
I’d like to do one event in the same location every year, and more in different locations, but one of the central focuses for MYM events is to spread this information to the places that don’t already have it. We want to go into non-medical states and hold “Goddess Getaways” where we discuss it, we don’t use it, but we have those conversations. If we are going to be a “TED Talk” kind of arena, then those are the places that really need to be included in these discussions. There are people who are using cannabis all over the country, obviously, but the places that aren’t medical have no support. No one is going in there and trying to talk about cannabis, unless they’re talking about legalization. We’re not political, we’re not a business, we’re just trying to talk to the people who are hiding in their bathrooms, because that’s who we were. We were in Arizona hiding from our kids… and buying from sketchy dealers. That’s ridiculous. We want to spread the word and change the perception. Our focus is on women too, the saying goes, ‘if you educate a man, you educate a man alone, educate a women and you educate the family.’
THC Mag: How do you see your future events bringing in more of these “family education” elements? How does this conversation continue?
Deidra: We’ve talked about having parent/Mom’s Retreats, so we can talk about what it is to be a cannabis mom in the prohibition era. I hope it spreads into the family in the sense that it is normalized and children don’t feel like it’s a “Say No to Drugs” thing. I wish parents weren’t ashamed to recreate or take their medicine in front of their children. We’re willing to drink a beer in front of our kids all the time, why aren’t we willing to smoke in front of them? We say it’s safer, so let’s show them. We’re all so shameful about it. I hear all the time ‘Oh, but my kids don’t know I smoke…’ That’s a conversation we’re trying to spark. Let’s talk about those things because it will be perceived by our children however we present it. We have to overcome a lot to re-normalize cannabis in our culture. We have this very bizarre relationship with the plant because of prohibition, but that is not what man has been doing with cannabis for the last 10,000 years.
THC Mag: Considering how cannabis and cannabis use has been affected by being pushed underground, what are your plans to reconnect with the shamanistic uses of cannabis? Are there specific communities that you’re looking to connect with?
Deidra: I’m always looking to find like-minded cannabis users for spiritual purposes. I know that much of the new age community is using cannabis for myriad reasons, but I don’t know that they’re necessarily teaching that cannabis is a tool in the ‘spiritual tool-chest’ of connecting with the divine. I feel like our organization is a thought leader in this regard, and we look forward to connecting with everyone who has a similar message.
These ideas are bigger than any single platform or organization. Education is always the calling card of change, and we are one of the teachers in this movement to restore entheogen use to Western spiritual traditions.
Another thing I’ve just recently started doing is reaching out to Christian women’s organizations to advocate for cannabis. This may be a baby step, but it’s in the right direction. If we can normalize cannabis as legitimate medicine, we can then evolve into the enormous potential of cannabis as medicine that heals your spirit.
THC Mag: We heard you’ve got more than just events in the works, would you like to tell us about some of the other projects you’ve been working on?
Deidra: I’m almost done with my first book, “No One is Afraid of a Cupcake: How Cannabis Edibles Could Change the World.” It’s about how I discovered cannabis and how I’ve seen all those people that have rejected cannabis, accept edibles. I’ve gotten lots of people that say ‘I would never try cannabis,’ — to try edibles. I hope to gain a voice with this book alongside what I teach. Oaksterdam is a voice, but it’s a voice to the community, it’s preaching to the choir, I’d really like to talk outside of the choir.
I feel that as a person who doesn’t have stereotypical ‘stoner look’ I’m a little more relatable. I come from Christian, fundamentalist, conservative America. Heck, I registered as a Republican when I was 18, so I get that mentality; and my family is still there. I want to talk to those people. I want this to have a mainstream voice.
To learn more about the event, visit ganjagoddessgetaway.com