We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis: An exclusive interview with Deidra Bagdasarian, CEO of the Ganja Goddess Getaway and co-founder of Bliss Edibles & Extracts
We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis, Deidra Bagdasarian, known affectionately and professionally as “Miss Bliss,” is the founder and CEO of Ganja Goddess Getaway, a private, members-only social club for like-minded women into cannabis and creating a sense of community. Co-founded with Sailene Ossman in 2016, the getaway seeks to connect women to each other, themselves, and the cannabis plant.
In 2009, Bagdasarian co-founded the High Times award-winning Bliss Edibles & Extracts with the goal of raising the standards of edibles to something more. Having taught edibles courses at Oaksterdam University, her Bliss Vanilla-Mint Chocolate Cupcakes, have been called too beautiful to eat. We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis
Bagdasarian is a transformational figure in the cannabis sector; a high-profile female CEO and entrepreneur in an industry that, according to recent data, is hemorrhaging women executives. Statistics show that between 2015 and 2017 the number of women executives in the industry fell from 36 percent to 27 percent. We spoke with Bagdasarian about the cannabis industry to find out more about the role of women leaders, the future of cannabis legalization, and the best-damn edible cupcakes in the world.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became involved in the cannabis industry.
My husband, back when we were dating, he was the person that introduced me to cannabis as medicine. California, during this time, was a prohibition state. I was actually Googling how to get a hold of cannabis, and I found NORML, and the effort to legalize cannabis. I didn’t know anything about the legalization movement and finding NORML changed the course of my life forever. This introduced us to Edibles, and so we, my husband and I, started making edibles.
I have always been a baker, the women in my family are bakers. After making edibles for a few years in California, we learned how to make extracts, and it was just a new way to do cannabis. In 2009 in California, we started Bliss Edibles. We added “Extracts” in 2013. We always had this passion for cannabis because we were using it for ourselves, but when we started sharing the medicine with other people, it just made me happy. We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis
It lead me to create Ganja Goddess, my heart project. I had just had a daughter, and I felt that I had a responsibility that I previously hadn’t felt with my son. There was a different awareness. There is something about cannabis that gave me a sense of, well, motivation. A motivation to become my best self. I had this new baby, and I had a new business. At the time, I wasn’t sure I knew how I knew to be my best self for her. The Ganja Goddess Getaway was part of my desire to be a new mom to a daughter. In doing retreats, I’ve learned more about what it is to be a woman, a sister, a friend, and a mother.
That’s so wonderful that you’ve found your passion project. It sounds like Bliss Edibles paved the way for Ganja Goddess nicely. Which, by the way, everything on the Bliss Edibles & Extracts Website looks like something right off of “The Great British Baking Show”! It just looks too pretty to eat! What inspired you to create such beautifully crafted edibles?
[Bliss Edibles & Extracts] is our bread and butter. It’s a non-profitable business; I like to joke because we invest so much time in it. It’s exciting to be a part of something, even though it’s still a work in progress. It’s constantly evolving; it’s where all of my efforts are. To me, edibles are a more efficient way to consume cannabis, especially if you’re using it as a mood enhancer. I enjoy edibles; I enjoy the feeling that I get from edibles. It’s a very different feeling than the one that you get from smoking and getting high; it is just a very different feeling. I can eat a low-dose of cannabis in edibles as well as enjoy the comfort food.
In the past, I had used pharmaceutical medicines as an antidepressant, which was not a great experience. Finding cannabis was a life-changing experience. I was still getting my medicines, but I was feeling better. Then I started carrying my edibles around with me, giving them to friends. My friends said that we had to sell it, the edibles I mean, so then I just wanted to start impressing people! I started thinking about things like, how does cannabis pair with food? All of my creative juices came into full force.
How did you come up with the recipes? I mean these are award-winning cupcakes.
I’ve been collecting recipes since I was nine years old. I pulled from my lifetime collection of recipes, it was literally a huge binder, and I pulled out my favorites, and they’ve really taken on a life of their own. I grew up around baking, and it’s something I’ve always been willing to try and practice. Adding cannabis and seeing what works. Comfort foods make you feel better. Edibles are eaten by patients; whether they ’re trying to make tomorrow more healthy, whatever they’re using it for, I want it to taste as good as it makes you feel. Cannabis is so positive, so edibles need to step up to the plant, in my opinion.
[The award] was fun! In 2010, it was very special. It was the first time that High Times came to the U.S. To have it in San Francisco, it felt like we were a part of the future. This was the most unexpected honor and accomplishment of my life. To win more awards, recognition, and honors was so unexpected. We chose San Francisco because of its the vivisection of food and weed, the most wonderful food and weed cultures really come together in California.
And that was around the same time that you taught at Oaksterdam. Do you think that legalizing cannabis will help sustain cannabis-based educational institutions like Oaksterdam?
It’s such a shame that it doesn’t exist the way it did in the past. It was huge! It was so big! It was an exciting part of things were happening and evolving back in 2010 in Oakland before they were raided in 2014. It was awesome! There were blocks of Oakland where you could be in and be smoking, and go from place to place and see smoking communities, between the student center, Bull Dog Cafe. All of these places where you could study cannabis, see [the cannabis] community, and feel like you were coming out of the green closet and that you were normalizing cannabis. It felt safe and exciting and fun.
Oaksterdam’s heart was in the right place; it was just really early. The continuation of their momentum has been tough with all of the rules and regulations. We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis
Once the laws have settled with recreational use, I think [it will change]. We haven’t ironed it all out; we’re still figuring [cannabis regulations] out. Over the next year, it should settle some, and then there will be opportunities for market sectors. In the meantime, there are lots of groups doing online lessons, conferences, and there’s a University in Michigan that has the first cannabis degree.
I hope legalization will help speed the process along. The more education people have about cannabis, the faster it can be normalized.
Let’s switch gears to your organization, the Ganja Goddess Getaway. It sounds incredibly fascinating. What was your motivation behind it all?
I reached out to the people I knew in cannabis and told them that I was thinking of doing this, creating Ganja Goddess. They all said, “Oh my gosh, do it!” So I did. We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis
My personal assistant helped me find a place to host the events, and I just kept inviting women. The only place that we could really hold these events were fairgrounds, which, fairgrounds are not conducive to the types of gatherings we wanted to hold. So that’s when we got the idea to become a private social club where people had to hold memberships in order to come. Half of the women were not even ticket holders for the first event! I was insistent that I would fill the events up and make it a thing. And I did! We dared to be ladies enjoying cannabis