Jaene Leonard said:
“Cannabis, more than any other space, offers the opportunity for women to help build each other up.”
Describe yourself and what you do.
I am a cannabis educator and writer/blogger, as well as a mindfulness meditation teacher. My blog, The Compassionate Budtender, is geared to newbies — those coming to cannabis for the first time, and those returning after a long hiatus. I’m also an actor and writer. I’ve written a play and screenplay about the cannabis industry, and also have a one-woman show about being a budtender, which I performed in late 2016 at Solocom in New York City.
I teach Cannabis 101 classes in dispensaries around the Bay Area. I also teach iRest Yoga Nidra, a body-sensing meditation, which I’ve brought into the cannabis space — canna-wellness events, dispensaries, and with cannabis community and veterans’ groups, like Operation EVAC and Weed for Warriors.
I lead experiences bringing cannabis together with iRest meditation and other wellness practices throughout the Bay Area including “Microdosing & Mindfulness” and “Medicate & Meditate” at Harvest Dispensaries in San Francisco.
What is your vision for your professional cannabis endeavors?
I have been in the cannabis industry for nearly seven years, but have been a proponent of cannabis since about the seventh grade. I found that cannabis offered a way into myself — a feeling of connectedness I also get in yoga and meditation — a sort of dropping into myself. I’ve since come to find out that there’s brain science behind this!
Cannabis and meditation both quiet the chatty Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain and activate the Task-Positive Network (TPN). The DMN has a competitive side, is always gauging our worth against that of others, and locks us into linear time as well as the anxiety we’re always feeling around not having enough of it. The TPN pulls us into a more timeless space, gets us out of reactivity, quiets the inner critic, and fosters a feeling of connectedness. It’s the same feeling one gets when THC first kicks in — that feeling of remembering oneself.
So, microdosing cannabis (or macrodosing it, as the case may be), is the perfect companion to developing a mindfulness practice. A little bit of cannabis can take the edge off, quiet anxiety, calm pain, or lift depression, so that we can come fully to the moment. As we start to spend more time in the present, we stop regretting or replaying our past, and stop torturing ourselves trying to predict the future. We become proactive, rather than reactive. And stress starts to melt away.
My vision is a wellness-driven society in which people are educated about cannabis and the way it interacts with our bodies’ own amazing Endocannabinoid System. I’d like to facilitate people taking back their power from western medicine and Big Pharma, and playing an active role in their own health, using cannabis and mindfulness to support resilience and wellbeing.
What is your personal cannabis origin story?
The first time I smoked cannabis was with my niece out in the woods when I was twelve. I experienced a profound remembering — the sense of connectedness that was (and is) always there. That moment would send me on a journey into holistic practices — including yoga and meditation. Fast forward: I’d been working in the wellness industry for twenty years in New York City and the Bay Area when I answered an ad for a holistic health center in Oakland that offered free wellness services to members. When I found out the job was at Harborside, I knew it was the right place for me.
My goal from Day 1 was to marry my two passions – cannabis and wellness – and work in onboarding and educating the new/nervous/inexperienced about the potential for healing with cannabis and personal mindfulness practices. I feel very grateful to be doing just that!
What is your Superpower?
Observation. It’s important to find the right way to connect and communicate. Both cannabis and meditation can seem like foreign concepts to many of the uninitiated. I enjoy presenting fresh ideas in simple, accessible ways, whether it’s writing or speaking. I’m the youngest child of 11, so I did a lot of listening and observing growing up and like finding just the right way, and just the right moment, to chime in.
I should add that life is a practice. I fail at observation on the daily. But I observe my failure and just keep practicing. Through practice, and over time, new neural pathways are created in the brain and observing becomes more of a healthy habit.
What has been your greatest obstacle in this industry or with your business to date?
Carving out my niche! When you’re a wellness professional, you show up where and when needed — flexibility is important. The other side of that coin is creating a brand and supporting that brand with elements that fit the mission, all while honoring my particular spin. I’ve always got many irons in the fire — it’s just how I’m wired!
My vision for the future is a wellness-driven society in which people are educated about cannabis and the way it interacts with our bodies’ own amazing Endocannabinoid System.
What is your advice for women in the cannabis industry?
Cannabis, more than any other space, offers the opportunity for women to help build each other up. Traditionally, for some reason, women have been threatened by each other’s success, rather than cheering each other on. We have a lot of work to do on that, but I think it’s possible to build a new paradigm in cannabis.
We can give each other a leg up, share resources, and support the very unique gifts we each have to give to the world. Be clear about the role you want in this new industry. Even if you don’t know, keep showing up for others. Collaborate and validate! Sing praises, mentor, raise the frequency! We don’t have to operate from scarcity, because EVERYONE on the planet can benefit from cannabis in some way!
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