25 Nov Cannabis Aficionado : PlantEd
PlantEd Collective: 5 Women Changing Europe’s Cannabis Conversation
Misinformation is one of the greatest issues faced when talking about medical cannabis and cannabinoids. There is a lot of wrong information out there that can be confusing and misleading to patients, some of who can be society’s most vulnerable. PlantEd Collective wants to change that.
Jade Proudman, Carly Barton, Liz Dyer, Abby Hughes and Victoria Logan share a passion for helping people understand holistic wellness practises, led by cannabis and it’s efficacies, using the very latest research from around the world.
Their goal with PlantEd Collective is to create engaging dialogue and provide accurate information to help educate people — starting with their December launch that includes Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein.
We spoke to them about breaking stigma, the re-education process and the power of the female.
Why do U.K. cannabis consumers need PlantEd Collective?
Liz Dyer: Each member of the PlantEd team brings very a different experience, from activism and education to yoga practitioners and boundary breakers. As cannabis consumers, we understand this space and most importantly, we understand the consumer needs and barriers to accessing cannabis information. Cannabinoid consumers in the U.K. are awash with information that is often misleading and fraught with challenges.
Jade Proudman: We see the real-world implications of this daily. There are barriers to CBD suppliers sharing information about medicinal benefits due to regulation. There are also legal barriers to discussing medicines containing THC. The information that makes it to U.K. consumers is often outdated and not practical. There is currently no safe, reliable place for consumers to digest the latest science, or educate themselves from a place of independence.
How will PlantEd Collective help break the information barrier between plant and people in the U.K.?
Carly Barton: Our not-for-profit scheme hopes to tackle this head-on. Many organizations are focused on educating policymakers and medical professionals in a top-down approach. We want to fill the gap in a ground-up approach, building knowledge within the consumer community so that choices are made from a place that is informed.
We aim to tackle this by providing access to digestible summaries of scientific developments, enlisting the engagement of high-profile researchers and developers to bring conversational content via accessible podcasts
We will design short courses to enable consumers to teach themselves and increase the knowledge base from the ground up and provide resources for families and children to instil high-quality education and dispel the tension that so often exists in a family when dealing with stigma.
How does PlantEd’s information differ from, say other sources like scientific journals?
LD: Much of the information out there is wrapped up in weighty, medicalized documents. We would like to think that you won’t need a medical degree or a library full of cannabis books to digest the information that we will be providing. We will be engaging with the community on what they would like to know more about and provide that service.
CB: That’s a big issue and efficacy and safety information is so often presented in very inefficient ways. Either the research is too complex to understand, or it comes from the recreational arena which is full of jargon and cultural terminology, for which you often need a translator to get your head around.
Let’s take consumption methods as an example. There are hundreds of studies done on vaporized cannabinoids, but there is nowhere that will break this down for patients. What are the risks and benefits of vaporizing over different consumption methods? Where do I go to get a vaporizer? How do I dose using one? What are the benefits of dry herb vaporizers? Do they cause lung issues? And what on earth is ‘dabbing’, RSO, FECO, AVB? Vera from three doors down would not know where to start!
JP: We feel that the combination of our collective education, experience and advocacy work means that we can disseminate, signpost and summarize these burning questions into practical steps meaning barriers to accessing the information are more easily broken.
Victoria Logan: We also recognize that our further specialisms in health and wellbeing — yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices — enhance our holistic approach.
What are some of the topics you plan to cover?
LD: We are currently developing a PlantEd curriculum with wide-ranging topics. We want to address the basics and give consumers a route to engaging with more advanced topics.
For example, a consumer may come to us for education on the endocannabinoid system and then perhaps take a short course in terpene therapeutics. For supporting consumers with anxiety issues, with Victoria’s expertise, we can offer support with breathwork and yoga sequences combined with information on plant-based approaches.
What are the most common misconceptions you hear about cannabis?
CB: All stigma comes from a place of conditioning following years of mass media hype that has systematically pushed down the benefits of cannabis and blown the risks out of all proportion. A lot of the stigma comes from a place of ‘all drugs are bad’ and there is seemingly no academic basis for this argument. It exists because that’s what people have been told to think.
Cannabis consumption in the U.K. is often associated with either anti-social behaviour or connections to the mental health risks, which when compared with readily available drugs like alcohol, caffeine and sugar, are extremely low.
LD: Funnily enough, the stigmas that exist around cannabis do vary from country to country; in Thailand, their argument has nothing to do with mental health, they are concerned that they would have lazy workers.
VL: We often hear that cannabis consumers are unproductive, yet we feel more productive now than we have ever been and that comes down to cannabis education.
CB: The most common question I am asked when speaking about the benefits of cannabis and my health is, ‘Aren’t you high all the time?’ which I find interesting, because I felt MUCH more inebriated when consuming opiates. The alternative for chronic pain patients is heroin-type drugs.
LD: And no one ever visits a hospital patient with some grapes and demands to know if they are high on their prescribed medication.
Why is it important that PlantEd Collective is the only entirely female-led collective in the U.K.?
VL: In Hatha yoga, we are taught to practice with balance in everything that we do, the breath, postures, the balancing of the Lunar energy: the female, with the Solar energy: the male. Everything in life needs balance.
The PlantEd Collective are the balance which is really needed currently in the cannabis world because cannabis culture has been a male-dominated space for many years. We have only just started to see real change in the U.K. following the emergence of female advocates. The law was only changed, after all, because mothers desperately petitioned to get access for their children.
CB: There is a change in the image here from cannabis being associated with ‘teenage boys on BMX bikes’ to ‘women advocating for wellness’ that brings about a different energy with which to step forward. Women are nurturers, mothers, friends, sisters. There are no aggression tactics, instead there is knowledge, support and unwavering determination to get stuff done.
When we talk about cannabis, we are talking about a female plant.
LD: Yes! So who better to advocate for its powerful qualities?
Why join forces to create PlantEd?
Jade: Whilst we have been extremely fortunate in our respective fields to be given the opportunities to learn and grow, something really dynamic happens when we work together. Where one is lacking in knowledge or experience, another team member jumps in and fulfils that need. We have all been very aware of each other’s work for some time, however, it took us all accidentally coming together as a panel at Trewfields (a cancer festival) to really understand that our combined specialisms make up such a massive knowledge base.
VL: It was a particularly emotional and challenging panel that day where we found that we were able to not only answer every question that came up, but that we could utilize each other to create a conversation that brought about much more than off-the-cuff responses. Without any preparation or discussion, we provided real ‘spade-a-spade’ insight and were able to reference case studies and highlight specific research for patients who were in dire need of education and support.
LD: We are delighted to have already been booked for next year’s Trewfields Festival.
Liz, you’ve written two children’s books which the collective plans to release. Are you developing any other services aimed at families?
LD: Yes, there are more in the pipeline! This is something which is very close to our hearts and we have experienced, first-hand, many of the issues raised in the books. We know how difficult it can be to open a conversation about this with those we love, those with whom we work and sometimes even with ourselves. These books aim to bridge that gap. There will be supporting materials available alongside the books and we will open an online forum to aid discussion of these subjects. We will host family days and events to provide support for families and normalise the use of plant-based medicines.
The first book, ‘Only a Plant’, is an accessible text for all ages which explains how useful a cannabis plant is in general — from the perspective of the plant itself. The second book, ‘Mum’s Medicine,’ is narrated by a child whose mother has chosen to replace a plethora of prescribed medications with a plant-based approach. The books provide a starting point for engaging in dialogue and supporting education and understanding. These books are important because they mirror real-life situations currently affecting children and families who choose cannabis as medicine.
CB: These books are so desperately needed. Kids don’t have the same negative associations with the plant and when it’s explained appropriately, they instantly understand why it is so important. My nine-year-old nephew reviewed Liz’s two books and got a lot out of them. He then asked for a plant medicine book for his birthday, so he can find out more about other plants that help people. That is truly very special. It is important that as we enter a new paradigm in embracing natural treatment methods, that we build resources in to educate people from a young age.
How will the digital platform integrate health and wellness?
VL: We each utilize cannabinoids and other plant medicine alongside other wellness practices. We hope to do a series on companion herbs and their uses, including documenting our own supplementary regime for patients interested in exploring alternatives to pharmaceuticals. As a Hatha Yoga practitioner, I teach a range of techniques and am in the process of developing resources for companion practices that work synergistically with cannabinoids to realign the body’s energy and boost pathways to wellness and mindfulness.
You will soon release a podcast, can you reveal some of the guests you have lined up?
CB: We can’t say too much about our Podcast plans yet, as it is rather top secret! But we think it’s safe to say that we have some incredible people lined up for our series. We will be having a cup of tea and a chat to some of the world’s most high-profile researchers, scientists, authors, doctors, master growers and innovators.
Tell us about the PlantEd Collective launch event in London featuring Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake, makers of ‘Weed the People’.
JP: We are ecstatic to be welcoming Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein to the team for the night of our launch. These amazing women have witnessed the power of cannabis as medicine and produced a film that the world needed to see. We will be playing some clips of ‘Weed the People’ on the evening and having a fireside chat, all together, about the content and how it relates to the situation for consumers in the U.K. We will host an audience of patients, carers, doctors and industry leads to join us in a conversation about the route to access, education and the reduction of stigma, for the benefit of generations to come.