How Combining an Herbal Blend with Cannabis Brought Me Back to My Roots

It only took me ten years to realize I had it right at 19. I was balancing a part-time job, full-time classes, and making memories with a group of women that would become my core group of friends. Around this time, my cannabis usage matured from party use only to smoking and daily adulting. I began to experiment with smoking and hiking, smoking and ballet class, smoking and listening to music. I once even smoked and went on a eight mile run where I had to stop at a strangers house in the middle of rural Oregon to ask for a glass of water. I’d learned quickly that cottonmouth plus dehydration made for rough running conditions.

During this time, my friend turned me on to mixing cannabis with other herbs such as lavender and raspberry leaf to “water down” how high I got.

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Talk about a game changer! And so, my life began as a regular cannabis user. Being able to smoke in low doses allowed me to feel more comfortable around cannabis, less fearful of getting “too high.” And best of all, I began to do and learn a lot more by smoking and doing.

One of my favorite activities was to smoke and write. I guess I always had a knack for writing and storytelling. I wrote my first story when I was six and never stopped. In college, I was an English major. Not because I necessarily wanted to be a writer (although I did flirt with the idea), but because I was good at it and enjoyed it. And to be honest, I was raised to pursue passions, not profits. Now, I’d like to preface that this isn’t a story of another millennial being told she can do whatever she wants, and so she just decided to do so. I am the youngest of four, and my mom worked fifty to sixty hours per week cutting hair. I’m pretty sure when she told me I could do whatever I wanted was out of genuine exhaustion, not loving motivation.

By the end of college, I was all set for New York with my poetry award in one hand, Writer's Market Guide to Getting Published in the other, and a head full of Carrie Bradshaw dreams. My dreams of being a writer were quickly squashed by the realities of paying New York City rent. By the end of my first month in the city, I was twenty-one and in the place I swore I would never be...a corporate cubicle. Some people can work full-time while also honing their craft, but I am not one of those people. I am either completely in something or I’m not. So I put writing on a shelf where it sat for nearly eight years while I sprinted up the start-up ladder.

For me, working in New York City was like an intensive MBA program, absorbing the invisible rules of business through each phase of my career. However, what I kept finding is that the rules of business were often misaligned with my personal values. Simply put, they were not designed for me to succeed, they were crafted to propel others over myself – and I imagine I’m not the only woman or minority to ever feel like this. By the end of 2016, I felt like the longer I played by “the rules”, the greater the odds were that I stacked against myself. I felt as if I played a role in someone else's success story. It was then I decided that I’d make my own game and set my own rules, and so an entrepreneur was born.

Not only was I changing, but the political climate toward cannabis began to shift quickly, too. A legalized and regulated cannabis market started to open up, and with that, an opportunity to change my own story. I found myself feeling unfulfilled with my career and as a result, feeling like I let myself down. Crying in the bathroom stall one day, I thought back to what jobs I had done in the past that made me most happy, and the first thing that came to mind was selling weed and writing.

I thought about the lessons I learned while selling pot in college: provide a fun and positive customer experience anchored around a smoking-and-doing philosophy.

I reached out to my friend who first introduced me to smoking herbal blends, and we began our own shop with BARBARI, a lifestyle brand for the lifted. It’s our goal to show cannabis in the light of social diversity and moderate consumption.

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We’re all for those that like to get high, but keep their feet on the ground. We felt like there wasn’t a cannabis brand that really spoke to us, creative and ambitious women that used cannabis regularly, but in relatively low doses. We felt that us and our friends (mostly women, other minorities, and those in the LGBTQ community) had been rejected by the mainstream. We saw this as a way to create a space that all the other societal misfits could feel welcome. Now I get to share with others how to use cannabis in a safe, moderate, and stylish way, and I get to write again about what I am most passionate about – cannabis. So it seems I am back to at where I first began ten years ago, working in cannabis and writing.

I wouldn’t want any part of my career path to be different because of the valuable lessons I learned. Now my focus is on influencing a world where women and minorities are key voices in a billion dollar industry, and to demonstrate that smoking and doing can lead to a whole lot more than sitting on a couch. I am proud to say that BARBARI is a result of what can come when women work together and use cannabis to get to their good place rather than just to get high.

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I’d love to hear some of your favorite smoking and doing activities! Feel free to share in the comments, or reach out to me directly at meryl@barbarishop.com. Happy high, friends!