Cannabis affects everyone differently, and we're still trying to figure out what scientific and psychological factors play the biggest roles in each of our "highs." Some research even shows evidence that one's sex may play a role in how he or she reacts to cannabis, with male and female bodies carrying different hormones and possibly different endocannabinoid systems.
To learn more about the plant's impact on women and how they can use it to further their own well-being, we talked to Ashley Kingsley, co-founder of women's cannabis group Ellementa.
Westword: How did Ellementa come to fruition in Colorado? Is it active outside of just Denver?
Ashley Kingsley: Ellementa launched in Denver in June 2017. We had fifty women in the room, some timid, but all so hungry for knowledge and connection. There was next to no cannabis wellness education available anywhere specifically for women. Ellementa, a global cannabis wellness network, organizes women's circles currently in fifty cities across North America. Cannabis has been mostly unstudied and demonized for so long, and we have so much learning to do. Our paradigm is totally shifting, and soon so will our health habits.
Why the need for a women-only cannabis group?
We created Ellementa for women because women are the epicenter of care. We are most often the caretakers and caregivers, and we also focus on self-care. We want to create a place where women feel comfortable sharing their personal stories and experiences as it relates to health and wellness. Women also make 90 percent of the household purchasing decisions.
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How can cannabis play a role in a woman's mental, physical or spiritual wellness?
I have been on anti-depressants since the ’90s. I had panic disorder, depression, and I drank way too much alcohol. At some point, I became dependent on opiates after my ninth gynecological surgery in my thirties. When no path to sobriety worked for me, I literally set out to become a stoner, because I was going to die. It was my last resort. Everyone consumes cannabis differently — and for various reasons. I have been able to regain my mental, physical and emotional health through microdosing cannabis throughout the day. I haven't had a drink in two years — and I haven't had the desire for the first time in my life. I lean toward better choices and feel so much better: mind, body and spirit. Women shouldn't be afraid to incorporate cannabis or CBD into their lives.
Are women represented enough when you see current cannabis and CBD marketing?
I don't think so, which is part of the reason we started Ellementa. The three co-founders come from marketing and tech backgrounds. Marketing to the female consumer is not easy, but we know how to do it. Ellementa is not only educationally focused, but we are also a data and marketing engine for the cannabis wellness industry. We help our clients reach their target audience and are the bridge between the women we serve and the brands who want to reach them.
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What sort of products in dispensaries or CBD outlets do you feel are overrated or don't work as well as intended?
I believe our cannabis experiences are as uniquely different as our fingerprints. I do think we have to be careful about where we get our products and information, and we must ask questions. Ellementa empowers women to ask questions. There are no regulations in place protecting the consumer right now. People can grow using pesticides, and then our medicine becomes our toxin — much like our current food supply so far removed from the earth. People hear about CBD and then buy it because they hear all the great success stories, but most people don't know how to actually identify good CBD. Ellementa is that resource.
What about some of your favorite strains, products, forms of consumption?
I love my PAX Era vape pen. I like their high standards and suite of products. Vaporizing is so convenient, especially because we have very few public places to legally consume cannabis. My fave strain right now is Chemdawg; I go with my nose. If it smells good, my body needs it. I am also a huge fan of anything by Stillwater and Verra Wellness. I stick with sublinguals, edibles, vaping, joints — well, hell, I think I like it all.