WOODSTOCK — The way Patricia Eames sees it, cannabis isn't about people wanting to get high, it's about people wanting to get healed.
For this reason, she's been a staunch cannabis advocate and retailer of cannabis-derived products at Clover Gift Shop in Woodstock.
"I feel that CBD (cannabidiol) products can be fabulous healers," said Eames, store owner for the past 10 years. "I have people coming into my store with all kinds of ailments, looking to discover how CBD can potentially help them."
Eames, who about one year ago began selling oils, balms, tinctures, honey and other products from CBD, which is a derivative of cannabis that does not have the intoxicating effects, is also one of Vermont's expanding circle of "Women of Cannabis."
These are the business owners and entrepreneurs, political and cultural leaders, as well as the "canna-curious" — women of like mind pulling together to change Vermont's laws and attitudes toward cannabis.
The Women of Cannabis together are partners with Heady Vermont, a news and events organization "dedicated to Vermont's growing cannabis culture and policy reform," according to the group's website.
Last April, Monica Donovan, a founder of Heady Vermont, started the women's cannabis group as part of a business seminar in order to create a "more comfortable place for women."
The focus of the workshops is to show current and prospective new members the basics of cannabis marketing, cultivation, and medicinal healing, with the help of people who've had experience in these fields, she said.
The workshops are also a good sounding board for any concerns or questions the membership may have "applying the principles of cannabis," Donovan said.
In May, Heady Vermont began sponsoring Women of Cannabis Wednesdays to expand to central and southern Vermont.
On June 27, Heady Vermont will host the women's networking event at Clover Gift Shop. Sales of CDB — especially locally made products — has increasingly become a "very large" part of her business, Eames said.
Hopefully,” Eames said, “hosting a women’s networking event will help normalize the use of cannabis products in Woodstock, and let people enjoy the company of other like-minded individuals."
When she first met the Heady Vermont team, she said, "we discussed how I could get involved" to support the cause of cannabis legal reform and public acceptance.
"They did not have many venues in central Vermont to hold their events," she said. "Because we are a gift shop and home decor store, our customer base is primarily women, so it just made sense."
Stephanie Waterman, who owns White River Growpro with her husband, Kendall Smith, said she became involved with Heady Vermont shortly after the group formed in 2016.
"I'd never done anything political, and never communicated with my representatives, and Heady Vermont gave us tips and prepared us for the process," Waterman said. "I felt some responsibility to speak up for those who still feel like they cannot speak out due to the stigma attached to cannabis activism.
"I now consider myself a cannabis advocate, and look forward to helping change the perception of cannabis in the state," she said.
On May 30, a Women of Cannabis Wednesday was held at White River Growpro, which sells hydroponics and gardening supplies in White River Junction.
The store also held its first annual Hemp Fest last September and the first Vermont Cannabis Convention last month.
"They were on the pulse of what was happening in the State House, and did a great job communicating that to their base," Waterman said of Heady Vermont. "They were really the first outlet for cannabis news in the state, and I would argue that they have continued to be the most comprehensive source of cannabis news."
"As Vermont moves forward in the process of legalizing cannabis we are excited to serve as a resource for those interested in growing their own," she said.
Eames said she signed up to be a business partner with Heady Vermont while visiting the New England Cannabis Convention in Burlington.
"It is important to recognize that the movement to legalize cannabis in Vermont is not just about people wanting to get 'high,'" she said.
"There are so many benefits of cannabis. It is helping many people with a large variety of ailments. Making these products more accessible to the people who need them is incredibly important," Eames said.