Cannabis consumption, harm reduction and women in the cannabis market

On May 23 we gave an interview to the women of Jardim Babilônia, a producer of multicultural events in the Paraíba Valley. We talked about some of the topics we love most, cannabis, women, sex and harm reduction!

What is Girls in Green?

“Today our main purpose is to disseminate quality content, focused on harm reduction strategies and principles.”

Girls in Green is a company created and composed of cannabis women that acts as an online digital education platform for cannabis and related topics, always based on the principles of harm reduction. In addition, we also act as a communication and strategy agency for brands that want to work with content marketing on their products.

Today our main purpose is to disseminate quality content, focused on harm reduction strategies and principles. As we are female cannabis users for different purposes, we base our content on empirical experiences from our own journeys, along with scientific studies – all of this without judgments (after all, we want to go against the current prohibitionism stands for) and through different media channels to be the most accessible that we can.

We have a focus on people. We want to create a safe space for users to open up, bond with us and have the guarantee that they will be answered, both for personal matters and with content questions. We do our best to offer a quick, welcoming and scientifically based response

How is the production of educational material for Girls in Green?

All material produced by Girls in Green is done in an authorial way, from writings to pictures. The company started with me and Alice, we would find topics that we found interesting or important for the agenda, and we would study it a lot. Everything was usually in English, since in Brazil it is harder to find quality content.

I have a degree in International Relations and worked for 9 years in international companies, so I took more care of the political, economic and market agendas of Girls in Green while Alice, who has a degree in Psychology and has been a Harm Reduction agent since 2012. She has always worked with the theme of drugs, human rights, photography, especially contributing in the most diverse areas focused on Harm Reduction and brought this to the project in a structural way, which permeates every content we produce.

Currently we are 6 women in the company, Alice and I take care of the management of things, she of the content and social networks and I of the administrative, commercial and website and besides that, we have 2 journalists, one taking care of the research. We also have a specialist in digital marketing and a translator for Spanish who came to join us in this new language that we are exploring. We just launched our website in Spanish too! Yay!

How was your first contact with the cannabis market? How has this changed your view of cannabis use?

The first contact came before I knew that it was the first real contact, because in Brazil whoever wants to smoke weed goes to the “favelas” to get some brick weed, and that is a market even though it is unregulated. This should already be the first warning that there is something very wrong with the way our society sees this ancient and powerful plant!

“Talking to a local – who was drinking his coffee at the coffee shop – , I was impressed to know that he didn’t smoke!”

But my first contact with the regulated market was in 2014, the first time I went to Spain and Holland. I had the possibility to visit Barcelona and Amsterdam, which were a big dream of mine. I think that anyone who likes cannabis at least imagines what it is like to go to a city that has several cafes or associations. In Barcelona, you can go to an association and find on the menu which cannabis  you want to smoke, buy and consume there. 100% legal way, I mean, in the grey area of the legislation.

And it was really there that my mind opened up a lot, I spent a few days alone before my friends arrived and talking to a local – who was drinking his coffee at the coffee shop – , I was impressed to know that he didn’t smoke! What he gave me was an “educated” worldview where the drug is presented to young people at an early age for what it is, with the benefits and risks of using it and that the prejudice of older generations – which still exists – is not great enough to take the issue off the agenda of public health and citizens’ freedom of choice.

I don’t think the drug policy of these countries is perfect, far from it, but this freedom really changes the way you experience consumption, because only with education will it be done in a conscious way.

What is the position of Girls In Green in relation to the consumption of brick weed in Brazil?

We know that this is the reality of Brazil and it has even been our reality for many years. As a company that practices the production of educational content and wants to promote a holistic education on the subject, today we focus on talking about how it is possible to “improve” the brick weed. We try to minimize the possible damage and, pragmatically speaking, to practice harm reduction. Recently we produced some content about LANDRACES that are these native genetics, such as the famous “Colombia” and the pink mango, which are also types of marijuana widely used in Brazil. These ones are more “transparent” in relation to what they offer, because you can see more clearly that it is a cannabis bud.

The issue with brick weed is not knowing what can be there besides cannabis itself. In most of the reports that people hear from those who washed the brick weed, the water comes out dark and you can get a lot of leaves, seeds, twigs, a series of things that are not got to be smoked. And speaking of washing, very important here to talk about drying it, because smoking cannabis (good or bad) with mold is one of the worst things that can be done to our body. We are about to release a piece of content just about that, because on the international scene this is already being studied in laboratories and the like.

What aspects does harm reduction cover?

Harm reduction transcends policy, it is a set of pragmatic care strategies, both personal and collective. The objective is to minimize and manage the possible risks and harms caused by drug use.

One of the main aspects of harm reduction is not preconizing abstinence, it is to accept the individual’s decision if he wants to continue using his substance of choice and create care strategies based on that.

Here at GG we think of Harm Reduction  as a pillar in our performance, focused on care, respecting differences and building strategies together with those who are users. The most beautiful thing is to think that this is done in an extremely horizontal way, from users to users and non-users.

What are the accessible methods of harm reduction?

“Harm reduction strategies have to make sense with the reality that each subject lives, trying to embrace most diverse intersectionalities.”

The ones that make sense to you. Harm reduction strategies have to make sense with the reality that each subject lives, trying to embrace most diverse intersectionalities. So if someone smokes brick weed and not beautiful organic buds, and that is their only possibility, we will create together with them harm reduction strategies to consume brick weed. Some of them are washing the brick weed or even using long tips and filters while consuming it. If the person is smoking good flowers or good extractions, we can also think of harm reduction strategies for that. Some examples are: consume organic products, vaporize instead of smoking a joint, dab in low temperatures…

It has to be something you identify with and want to do, and find it feasible and practical as well. This is the reason why harm reduction is so horizontal, it is built together, and we just need to do what makes sense to us. The idea is to impose nothing.

Is harm reduction about physical damage or also about psychological damage, assuming that consumption is not always conscious?

Harm reduction is for any type of damage aimed at care and health. If we think about it, in times of coronavirus, actions like those of RENFA distributing water and soap on the street are also a strategy for harm reduction in a pandemic.

In this case, damage can be caused in the most diverse spheres. Be it psychological, physical, social, in the context of the family …

Regarding conscious consumption, we can start from the premise that consumption is not conscious mainly when we think about the information that has been disseminated about cannabis throughout all these years of prohibition. Our role here is to inform in order to go against this, and produce content with true information to serve as Harm Reduction strategies for conscious consumption.

Information is also a tool for Harm Reduction.

In Jamaica, you had contact and produced content with more women who work in the cannabis business, what was the feeling of knowing that there are so many women in that market, in important positions?

We are in two, and both of us were really privileged and had many international experiences. Nowadays Alice even lives in the cannabis “meca” in Humboldt County in  Northern California. I say this, because we really had incredible opportunities within the cannabis market to meet other women whom were, since the beginning our inspirations for Girls in Green. Back in the United States, the cannabis market has the highest percentage of women in power, well above the national average for other industries, which has always shown us that women came to show our power, and with the market. With cannabis, we have the opportunity to do this from the beginning, to occupy this leadership position and not need, as in other markets, to go after it.

What was most amazing in Jamaica was seeing the variety of women, there we were able to interview from important CEOs, from millionaire investment funds, as well as human rights activists, the Minister of Culture, all very powerful and with stories worthy of a book.

And the feeling that comes out of that is that of a lot of gratitude. Gratitude for having this opportunity to meet them and an even greater gratitude for being able to communicate these voices to more people, to have a platform that can not only express what we think, but also opens the door for other stories and other inspirations.

As a Brazilian woman, who was born and lives in Brazil, I can personally say that I am very proud to work with cannabis and the advocate for legalization. I also know the privilege and responsibility that comes with this position, because as I said, I think now is the our time to get ahead, to try a regulated market that is fair, that is not dominated by white men and that please come with the awareness that we need to repair years of damage caused by the War on Drugs.

What is your tip for women who want to start their studies or work in the cannabis market?

Study a lot. The truth is that to enter a market ruled by prohibitionism and that has so many lies being told to this day, it is not easy and it permeates many prejudices. Having knowledge, having information, knowing how to argue, breaking taboos and myths is the way we found to do this for our lives. None of us was born working with this and we didn’t have the unconditional support of our family and friends from the beginning. Nowadays, this is already quite different, we have been working with cannabis for 5 years and we have evolved a lot since the beginning, as well as acceptance of it in our environment.

Define marijuana lubricant in one word.

I came!!! LOL!

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