Updated: Mar 25, 2020
On April 6th, 2019 for the first time in history, two outstanding women of color came together to create a space free of judgement where women and men could discuss the future of the cannabis industry and the future of human acceptance.
Cannabis activists Pantha Vohra and Noreen Nathu planned and hosted the Ganja Goddess Gala in recognition of women of color working in the Cannabis industry, and to promote awareness for the normalization of cannabis use across cultures. The event was the first of it's kind, as people of all walks of life came together to celebrate and discuss their experiences with cannabis, as well as work towards collaboratively building a better future for the industry. During our exclusive interview, Pantha expresses her personal goal
"To create a space for women of color, especially in an industry that excludes color."
She and Noreen both expressed that the legalization of cannabis in Canada is simply the first sector of legalization, and there is still much work to be done. Noreen explains that as a Ganja Goddess,
"we have to carve our own paths as women of color, being women is hard enough, we're already left out so we've had to sharpen our elbows once. Being women of color we've had to sharpen our elbows twice."
The hard work and dedication the women put into organizing the event showed in every detail. The two Ganja Goddesses gathered local business and cannabis enthusiasts to celebrate and discuss the direction of cannabis usage in North America. By throwing a gala, the ladies hoped to tackle the negative stigmatism of "the lazy stoner" and prove that like most social causes, the issue of cannabis normalization is one to be respected.
Every detail of the event was executed with great care and respect towards honoring the industry. The floral arrangements all contained parts of the marijuana plant, which were delicately designed by a local florist in the Vancouver area. The food and beverages were infused with THC, prepared by local canna-chefs. The hostesses even invited local dispensaries to cater to the guests while they indulged in a blend of South East Asian dishes and THC infused desserts. Businesses such as Ganjawise, Mastertokes BC, and Miss Envy Botanicals all provided samples at the event to help educate guests on the beneficial properties of their product.
It was every pot lovers paradise; with a purpose.
A purpose of unification of peoples through cannabis. We asked attendees why they attended the gala, and what they hoped people would take away from the soiree. All answers aligned. Each guest expressed their deep desire for the normalization of cannabis use on a global scale. They shared personal experiences of struggle in their journey with cannabis- hoping to see a day where a person can consume marijuana medically and recreationally without call for demonization regardless of their gender, race, or religion.
We had the pleasure of interviewing the very charming Cobb Keen, founder of Matchstick Marijuana who shared some insight on how using cannabis has bettered his life. From the strong relationships he's fostered to the therapeutic benefits he's experienced, Cobb expressed a deep awareness of the importance of normalizing the use of the pot plant.
"I have an 11 year history selling pharmaceuticals and if you don't need to be using chemicals or synthetic molecules, then you shouldn't be." he says.
As he discussed the various uses of cannabis and the negative myths surrounding the plant, Cobb expresses,
"It won't kill you. It's the message I tell everybody."
He works diligently to educate the public on the benefits of legalizing and consuming marijuana. Not only does he advocate for the growth of the cannabis industry, but he also advocates for inclusion. In being an attendee and promoter for an event focused on supporting women and women of color using cannabis, Cobb sets the example for all white males in the industry, showing through action that the fight cannot and should not be fought by women a lone.
We also spoke with the gorgeous Amber Mariel, fashion designer and model to her own unique line, King of Hearts Clothing. Being a TCK, Amber expressed her new found joy in Vancouver where she is able to showcase her creativity in a free and safer environment.
"I come from England where it is completely illegal."
Amber tells us as she describes her fears buying weed in a nation that deems its use- criminal activity. She describes the stressful dynamic of knowing you are partaking in something safe and reasonable but,
"Feeling like you're put behind covers."
Her experience is symbolic of that of any ganja goddess in a nation that criminalizes the act. Now in Vancouver, Amber works towards using her clothing line in the movement for normalizing cannabis. She looks forward to bringing her style and creativity to the cannabis industry through the branching out of her brand- hinting towards a line of King of Hearts branded rolling papers in the future. When asked why she considers herself a Ganja Goddess, Amber responds.
"I'm a goddess in my own skin, in my own being, and by consuming, it allows me to feel freer and more in tuned with myself and who I am as a person."
Her experience, and that of Cobb's reinforces the need for an event such as the Ganja Goddess Gala. There is a lack of understanding around the use of cannabis and it's legalization is a first step where there is much work to be done. The gala is a representation of what is possible in the future of cannabis. A future where women and men of all races can work collectively and respectively to promote a practice that is safe, sacred, and socially acceptable.
The Ganja Goddess Gala is simply the first of many events to be hosted by Noreen and Pantha in their work with cannabis activism. To hear more from our interviewees click the link below and listen to the full interviews. For now, stay elevated.