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Cannabis dispensary that targets women has winning strategy for success

In the early days of the Greenhouse Wellness dispensary in Ellicott City, Dr. Leslie Apgar needed to decide which cannabis products to carry for her patients.

Co-founder Gina Dubbé (L) and Dr. Leslie Apgar of Greenhouse Wellness Dispensary.     Submitted photo

What she found as options surprised her: AK-47, Pootie Tang, G spot.

“They were off-putting, they were tawdry, they were distasteful,” she recalled on a recent January afternoon. “Here I am doing consultations with older women and I’m like, ‘Oh here, try AK-47, it’s just what the doctor ordered. It was a silly, silly thing.”

Apgar, a medical doctor with more than 20 years of experience in obstetrics and gynecology, is fiercely protective of prioritizing women’s health needs. Apgar and her business partner, co-founder Gina Dubbé, decided to elevate the market by launching Blissiva, a line of cannabis-infused vape pens designed for women.

The result is a product line with the tagline, “Gyno-Created, Goddess-Approved.”

Blissiva recently announced a partnership with producer CULTA, releasing the vape cartridge Blissiva  Balance exclusively at CULTA and Greenhouse wellness in December. The vanilla flavor and 1:1 CBD:THC ratio vapes sold out almost immediately.

Now, the company has produced more to meet sales demand and help patients with their medical conditions, CULTA said in a statement.

Patients using Balance don’t want an altered mental state, they want a softer, gentle product with just enough potency to help with anxiety and sleeplessness, Apgar said.

“Things that were on the market and are still on the market are so high in THC,” she said. “And it’s like going to the grocery store or the liquor store for a nice bottle of wine and ending up with Everclear. It completely ruins the experience.”

Apgar and Dubbé hope to one day distribute Blissiva products nationwide.

“Women have been, and continue to be, an underserved market in the cannabis industry, and our products meet an unfulfilled need,” Dubbé said.

 Less anxiety, better sex life

Glen Burnie resident Amy Soule is one patient who has benefited from the Blissiva product line. In 2021, she visited Greenhouse searching for help with anxiety and depression. At the time, her son was seven years old and she did not want to be incapacitated from her medicine.

“With the Blissiva it was gentle,” Soule said. “I wasn’t giggly and silly. I wasn’t out of it. I just was myself, but felt great and relaxed.”

She appreciated the feminine packaging and found that it helped her anxiety and made her moods feel more stable without the side effects of other medication she had tried before cannabis. An added bonus was it helped her sex life with her partner by helping her get in the mood and enhancing the experience, she said.

Soule is taking a break from Blissiva for now because she’s breastfeeding her new baby but looks forward to going back to it in the future.

A transition to the recreational market

With recreational cannabis on the horizon, Apgar said some people have been asking her if they should still get a medical card. She expects it to take months if not years for the recreational regulations to be developed, so she advises those patients to go ahead and get it under medical use.

The taxes will also likely be higher on recreational cannabis – currently, her patients do not pay taxes for their medical cannabis, she said.

Apgar believes that most cannabis users are in fact treating a medical condition, whether it’s sleeplessness, anxiety or chronic pain. The Blissiva products are meant to fill that need, and because of their lower potency she expects they will transition easily to any regulations for recreational adult use.

Balance is intended to help with sleeping and anxiety, but it won’t drug someone to sleep or make them feel groggy when waking up.

“Let’s pretend you have anxiety about bridges while riding in a car, you could take a puff of that and your anxiety would be treated yet you would be still very capable of living your life, you wouldn’t be drugged or altered,” Apgar said.

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