The Cannabliss Retreat: Learning to Bake and Medicate Mindfully

At the Cannabliss Retreat, celebrating 420 Day, in Malibu, California, April 20, 2018. (Photos by Monique A. LeBleu)

After a short, leisurely limousine bus ride through the Malibu canyon, an estate gate opened to a lush California oasis filled with young fruit trees, small tents under swaying palm trees, and a glistening turquoise pool. The air, filled with down-tempo just chill enough for an active day in the sun, mingled with the undeniable fragrance of cannabis.

If that sounds like paradise, that’s the exact idea. And this 420 Day event was just one out of the “immersive six-day event” that was the 3rd Cannabliss Retreat. Cannibliss, which took place April 19 – 24, 2018, offered a “unique and exclusive experience” to “beautiful people, from coast to coast, from the canna-curious to the cannasseur” where the primary focus is on the medical and health-conscious use of cannabis.

For the 420 Party on that Friday, the open space between the retreat’s villa estate and pool—an ample location leased exclusively for the week’s event—presented a marketplace filled with attendees sampling various products.

Strains from boutique growers Bloomfield of Grass Valley and Fiddler’s Greens, drinks from Sprig, Solar Rain and Mood 33, Alkemica, Vapes, Pipes and other dispensers from Bloomfield, vape cartridges from Viscous, edibles from Bliss Waffles, and a variety of oils, energy boosters, other edibles, and topicals were available to sample throughout much of the day.

At 4:20 p.m., the early evening segued into the Sound Bath—a 45-minute chill experience guided by Cannabliss Retreat and Redefining Cannabis founder Sari Gabbay, joined by Kyle Hollingsworth and Toby Karlin of Myuna Music, where attendees were gifted cannabis oil drops and relaxed while the sounds washed over them.

As an extension of the educational aspect of the event, Brian Chaplin of Medicine Box headed a panel which included Gabbay, cannabis business attorney Ariel Clark of Clark Neubert LLP, Ex NFL Player and Cannabis Advocate Eben Britton, Anya Cravitz of Olivé Kind, Len May of EndoCanna Health, English disc jockey and Epilepsy and Cannabis Activist Chelsea Leyland, later joined by Co-Owner and Founder of KARE, Dr. Ira Price. The panel discussed and opened for questions on various aspects of cannabis advocacy, education, medicinal use, life-changes, and navigating the changing political climate and legislative atmosphere.

Cannabliss Retreat and Redefining Cannabis founder Sari Gabbay at the Cannabliss Retreat 420 Day Party, in the Malibu Mountains, California, April 20, 2018.

The panel discussed and opened for questions on various aspects of cannabis advocacy, education, medicinal use, life-changes, and navigating the changing political climate and legislative atmosphere.

A brainchild of Gabbay, Cannabliss began with an idea that sprang from the overall “climate change” in the world after January of 2017, with the first Cannabliss Retreat in Ojai in July, and the second in Joshua Tree.

“We’re not the first Cannabis retreat. But we’re the first like this, with the educational, with the experience, with the community, ” said Gabbay during a rare break in the festivities. “There’s nothing like this out there.”

The full Six-Day retreat also includes an intensive series of educational workshops providing in-depth insight into cannabis, its medicinal properties, potential uses on how it can heal, and applying these principles. Attendees also learn how to grow their own and cook with the medicine. Participants earn an official KANNA-KARE (Kannabis Accreditation Regulation & Education) certification, a program developed by Dr. Ira Price, at the end of the retreat.

As sample itinerary for a given day, activities might include, to start, a Wake And Bake Vape, with morning yoga, a hike, meditation, and a gourmet breakfast. In the afternoon, unwinding at a Vape Bar Lounge, attending KARE Workshop(s), having a gourmet lunch, then access to expert panels, yoga and creative art workshops. In the evening, another gourmet meal for dinner, a Sacred Ceremony, Sound Baths, music, campfire games, karaoke, bonfires and movie nights.

At the Cannabliss Retreat, celebrating 420 Day, in Malibu, California, April 20, 2018.

For the 420 Party, participants were also treated to a BBQ dinner, a live DJ, live music by Stellamara, and a belly dancer.

Relaxing with a Sprig THC drink in the dining room of the villa, KANNA-KARE participant Jazzmin Williams, a social media consultant with Alicia Nave of Koala, shared on her experience so far and on her own limitations and personal dosing of cannabis.

“My dosing is at about 40 mg, so I can still function,” said Williams. “I can have two of these, and edible, and I’m good.”

In her second day, she already was feeling a connection with other participants and absorbing the educational materials and program.

“They’ve made it super clear—to ‘get medicated responsibly’—and that’s the only way you enjoy things,” said Williams. “It’s been so fun. Everyone here is on a type of wavelength where they want to learn and grow.”

Williams said that participants and the educators went through each product to explain its use and instructions, with gifts like a smell proof bag for raw cannabis product, a Babinka Treats “Papi Churro” infused doughnut edible (where at 119 mg of THC, micro-dosing was encouraged), bath salts by Awakened Topicals, Mondo powder for cooking and protein shakes, a Budhive Cannabis-infused Wild Acacia Honey Daytime-Lollipop, Granola from Holistic Love, Crave Skincare body oil, pure CDB coconut oil from Tonic, Pot de’Huile Infused Olive Oil, and Tsty Vapes, just to name a few.

“They really put thought and effort into it and made sure that the vendors that were put in this bag had a really cool vision and had really cool products that are not intimidating to use,” she said. “We were all like kids! We were sitting in a circle, and they had us empty our bags and then introduced us to each product individually. It was so cool, because we learned how to use it before we even got into it.”

Dr. Ira Price of Synergy Health Services, whose natural pain and wellness center in Canada provides evaluation, treatment and follow-up on over 3,000 active patients with “everything outside prescribe opioids”, including yoga, massage, acupuncture, physiotherapy, injection therapy—cortisone, trigger point—and cannabis use.

It was in 2010 he got into the world of medicinal cannabis, frustrated at seeing opioid overdoses in his field. By trade as an emergency physician at a level four trauma center in Canada, he’s done combined emergency and sports medicine for 13 years, with his cannabis advocacy at Synergy Health Services, rests largely on recommendations for treatment of chronic pain, illness, and overall wellness.

“Our toolbox is so tiny for the treatment of chronic pain,” said Dr. Price. “We’re trying to build a house with a nail and the back end of a screwdriver. You can try to jam the nail into the wall, and it may go in, but you’re going to ruin the house.”

Dr. Price had already had created the KANNA-KARE education program to educate when he joined with Gabbay and Cannabliss Retreats. Together, they sought to close gaps of understanding in the cannabis community through the education.

“We’re not all about Stoner Culture. We’re not all about all medical culture.,” said Dr. Price. “We’re about bridging the gap. About mindfulness—building the community through mindfulness. That’s what we’re all about.”

With a background in branding and marketing, and a passion for holistic healing, Gabbay said that her idea for Cannabliss was also fueled by a self-awakening.

“I had a lot of change happening in my life, and I wanted to get started with something that made me feel like I was going to continue and be a meaningful source in this world,” she said. “[Cannabis] heals our bodies, and heals our hearts, and heals our minds—if we allow it to and we respect it. So the other thing I wanted to create, and whats important to me—now that it’s becoming legal, my relationship with cannabis changed.”

Boutique grower of Grass Valley, Bloomfield, and their Pineapple Chem Dawg cannabis bud, at the Cannabliss Retreat, in Malibu, California, April 20, 2018.

“People come from all over the U.S. and Internationally to experience Cannabliss Retreats, because they don’t have that access to that,” she continued. “So aside from them coming and being able to consume—that not even the biggest draw—the draw for people s the education, the community that we are creating, and the family—the experience of using cannabis—that is connecting us [to ourselves and to each other.”

According to Gabbay, now is also a very challenging time for cannabis growers and producers, as far a changing legislation in California, and what it means for consumers as well.

“Things are up in the air. I’m not on the product side of things, so I’m not in that so much,” she said. “I don’t need to apply for licenses and stuff, yet, but the people who do—the farmers that we work with, the brands that we work with—this is a challenging time for them and people think that it’s easy because ‘Now it’s legal.’ “Now you get to be a millionaire!’ No, actually, it’s harder now especially, for the small business. Because it’s $30,000 to get a license in L.A., and they can’t afford that. That’s a huge amount of money, you know. So they’re struggling and they’re being forced to [either] stop, be under the radar, or pay.”

In the U.S., where Dr. Price only educates, he too agreed that the legal cannabis waters are murky here in California.

“Legislation right now is not very clear. Here you can sell as long as you are licensed with the government, and you have to have a brick and mortar business,” he said.

Photo by Monique A. LeBleu
Fiddlers Greens at the Cannabliss Retreat Market, Malibu, California, April 20, 2018.

And it’s still a work in progress where there’s a learning curve involved, even with the threat of pending legislation changes in general.

“It’s new. And because it’s new, everyone’s figuring it out,” said Gabbay. “People making the laws are figuring it out. The people enforcing the laws are figuring it out. The people who have to abide by the laws are figuring it out.”

“We don’t sell cannabis at Cannabliss, that’s not what we do,” said Dr. Price, noting that the infused product is all gifted. “So we fall within the legislation.”

Even with things changing locally, Gabbay sees improvements and room for growth, especially in Europe. She, Dr. Price, and their team currently have plans in place for a retreat in Portugal in July, and then in Canada in August.

“Europe is a massive market for education. People are coming to us from Europe, so we’re [also] going to bring it there,” said Gabbay. “They’re going to end up legalizing—it’s going to happen—Portugal is our next destination. It is decriminalized. You can’t purchase it, but you’re not going to go to jail if you are using it.”

With the planned retreat in Portugal in July, there may be other simultaneous retreats in the U.S. Thereafter, a retreat in Canada is planned, with another in works for California by the end of the year. So stay tuned.

But ultimately their goal is to have a permanent retreat and wellness center. The question still remains as to where.

Pot Party: Where To Find Legal Weed Events In L.A. April 2018 

About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, and shameless foodie and wineaux. A love of film history and a background in film production, post-production, and film theory provide unique insights into her movie reviews. As well, a background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food—the world's best Mac n' Cheese!
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