Lead image via iStock Photo. All other images courtesy of Cannabliss
As California inches towards recreational weed legalization under Proposition 64, it only makes sense for the worlds of cannabis and New Age wellness to merge with increasing regularity. But that doesn't make Cannabliss Retreats — a five-day holistic experience going down from September 28 to October 2 in California — seem anything less than a rarified paradise. If you've got a yen for venturing beyond typical stoner culture to explore the sacred, healing properties of cannabis, this is for you.
After launching earlier this summer in Ojai, the second edition of Cannabliss takes place far away from the hustle-bustle of city life, in the blissed-out desert setting of Joshua Tree. Promising an "adventure down the rabbit hole," the retreat unfolds over "wake and bake" morning hikes, healing sound baths, educational workshops led by cannabis experts, evening bonfires, DJ-led dance parties, karaoke — and, of course, unlimited weed.
"We are pioneering a movement, and within that is an opportunity to gift people the amazing experience of conscious expansion and awakening," says Sari Gabbay, founder of Cannabliss Retreats. Below, we spoke to Sari about how she became involved in the cannabis industry, her views on the sacred properties of this plant, and the future of the weed and wellness.
MERRY JANE: How did you get into the cannabis industry? What were you doing before?
Sari Gabbay: For the past 15 years, I have been running a creative agency. About two years ago, we decided to branch off and focus our efforts into the cannabis industry and that's how Redefining Cannabis, our cannabis creative agency, was born.
My love for cannabis was a lifelong affair, but only recently have I become a mindful user. Over the past year I have really built a new relationship with the sacred plant and realized her power in healing both physical and emotional stress. In addition, as a creative, I have worked with cannabis to expand my conscious evolution both in my work and my life.
During a challenging time in my life, I needed to focus on a new vision, as an old one was ending. Through my desire to bring conscious awakening to the masses and my love for travel and cannabis, Cannabliss Retreats was born. I bridged my expertise in branding and marketing communication with my love and passion for education and enlightenment, and created a platform that I feel will affect many, many people in a positive way.
The community for me has been the sole reason I have fallen even more deeply in love with this plant and this vision to help redefine cannabis and change the stigma. I feel so grateful to be so fully supported by like-minded individuals.
What drew you to the intersection of cannabis and wellness, specifically?
It's been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am one of the many who believe our food and drug system is corrupt. So I make it my mission to educate people on how they can heal themselves through nature's medicine. I also believe in preventative measures rather than reactive. Don't wait until you have a "dis-ease" — do what you can to maintain this precious vessel we were gifted.
What kinds of opportunities does Cannabliss provide for people to experience cannabis in a different way than what they're used to?
We are bringing the sacred science and spirit of the plant to the masses. Everything is experiential and people can participate in ways that they likely never have. Some people are coming that are completely new to cannabis usage and want to learn, while others are experts but perhaps need to change their relationship with the plant or experience it in new ways.
Bringing in the sacred spiritual aspect of cannabis is so important to me. This is a tool that you can use mindfully to explore your inner knowing, help gain more self-awareness and growth. A lot of people are not using cannabis this way, but it's been around for thousands of years and has been used by shamans in ceremonies long before it became the face of hippie culture. We want to return to her ancient roots and give her the respect she deserves as such a powerful plant.
We also believe that cannabis can enhance your experience through art, creativity, entertainment, and music. So with all these elements in place, imagine how that experience could really expand your mind, awaken your spirit, and transform your perspective!
Can you tell us more about the sacred or ritualistic elements of this plant?
We will be integrating mindful consumption with a deep meditation, sound baths, medicine music, drums, aromatic essences, and more. The goal is to take the guests on a journey into inner space and explore the unlimited possibilities they have to create and exist in higher awareness.
Everyone who attends Cannabliss gets certified under a standardized "Kanna-Kare" program — why do you think such programs are important? What are the benefits of certification for everyday people like me?
The KARE protocol developed by Dr. Ira Price is so crucial to the industry right now where there is so much confusing information. Our goal is to standardize industry knowledge so that canna-techs, patients, and practitioners have the proper information to know their medicine and what works best for them.
How much have you been told about cannabis from so many different people? How much to dose, which strains work best, how to treat certain ailments etc.? The problem is people are giving advice based on their own experiences, but each of us are completely different and what works for you may not work for someone else.
There needs to be standardized knowledge backed by evidence. Dr. Price has been a cannabinoids physician for over seven years, and he has his own research clinic in Canada. The research has been open in Canada longer than the US, so the access to scientific study has been further developed. We are bringing this to the US to help people learn about the plant properly, including medicinal benefits, how to grow, how to cook, the botany, environment, the spirit and the business aspect.
What are some of the most exciting/progressive brands or programs that will be available at the retreat?
So honored to have these leading brands show their support and align with our mission and vision: Flow Kana, hmbldt, Fiddlers Greens, Medicine Box, Marley Natural, Kiva Confections, Esoteric Edibles, Dank Canvas, Be Edibles, Buz Meraki, Torii Labs, Redwood Roots, Henry's Original, and so many more!
What are you looking forward to the most at this year's retreat?
Really connecting with the guests, and allowing my team to focus on the logistics so I can bond with the people and be part of the community. Sharing my voice and introducing new ways of cannabis consumption. Working with my team of amazing co-pilots and creating an experience that will last for a long time after [the event ends].
What do you think have been the biggest changes or breakthroughs in the realm of cannabis retreats over the past few years? Where do you think the industry is heading?
This movement of hosting wellness retreats to redefine cannabis and create a message that's not about typical stoner culture or just getting high is going to grow. California will be the hub attracting many tourists in other states who don't have the same access to the plant. We are pioneering a movement, and within that is an opportunity to gift people the amazing experience of conscious expansion and awakening. That is the best gift one could have in life.
Cannabliss' Five-Day Wellness Retreat takes place September 28th through October 2nd in Joshua Tree. For more on the event, visit Cannabliss' website here
This article was created in a partnership between MERRY JANE and Cannabliss