Garden Society founder Erin Gore gives us a sneak peek into the California wine country-inspired cannabis edibles now available in dispensaries for Ohio medical marijuana patients. As her company expands to their first out-of-state market, Erin explains how she went from hosting in-home parties to building a brand that truly redefines cannabis for women.
Erin’s Background: From Wisconsin to Sonoma
Raised in a Wisconsin dairy farming family, Erin attended University of Wisconsin-Madison and went on to an 11-year career as a chemical engineer in consumer goods manufacturing. Erin moved around and found her way to the West coast in 2008 for work, where she met her husband, Tom.
From dairy farming to grape farming, Erin fit right in at husband Tom Gore’s second-generation Sonoma County vineyards spanning 3,000 acres. “His father planted much of what is Sonoma today,” she boasts proudly.
Together, the couple embraced the region’s farm-to-table movement, expanding from wine to producing their own olive oil, honey, fruits and vegetables for the local community. “It’s just an incredible lifestyle and quality of life here.”
The Wine World
An opportunity came knocking from Constellation Brands with an idea to launch a wine featuring her husband’s story. The experience gave Erin an opportunity to travel the country to talk to consumers, attend food and wine festivals, and see what it’s like being on the front lines of building a brand in the wine industry.
But something had to give, Erin explains. “I had this big career of my own, which a lot of people don’t necessarily realize. It wasn’t just me supporting my husband. He had a day job farming grapes. We had an international wine brand with Constellation. And then I managed a $130 million business within a larger corporation that I had built from the ground up and traveled globally.”
Juggling multiple businesses and trying to “lean in” and “do it all” was taking its toll, especially on the couple’s desire to start a family. “What I realized was that I had to make a choice. I couldn’t have this big career in the way I was having it and support my husband in our other side projects. And then also be present for myself and be present to have a family. And so I chose to quit my job.”
Erin discovered cannabis for medical reasons in 2008 for pain management as a former college athlete. “I was looking for anything that wasn’t an opiate,” she explained. “I had a really hard time sleeping and so I got on a cycle of opiates combined with sleep medication combined with increasing dosages etc.” She could foresee herself becoming addicted to them, lowering her functioning and ability to work and travel and do the things she loved. Her previous experience with cannabis was limited.
“I was always kind of a closet smoker but I never really understood cannabis the way I understand it today.” she said. “Whenever I needed help with my own stress or my own body or my own mental health, I kept turning back to cannabis. I started trying products and certain things would shoot me to the moon and certain things would work incredibly well. I had never found so much relief from edibles. But I had never had such uncomfortable experiences from edibles. And so I started making products myself.”
She knew she could make consistently-dosed products with her background as a chemical engineer, and she enjoyed cooking and baking. “It really started my journey of just trying to find sleep and rest from my own pain.”
Women and Weed: Forming the Garden Society
In 2013, Erin’s relationship with cannabis inspired the idea to host in-home “weed parties” for women in her inner circles, educating them on the benefits of cannabis, and helping to inform them on how to get their medical card online.
The parties started growing in size and growing in energy. And then it hit her all of a sudden: “I realized I have this community of women and I have this incredible sense of normalcy. And for the first time, I felt a weight off my shoulders where I was like this isn’t a ’me’ problem. This is a ‘women in society’ problem. And then I realized all these women were there because of cannabis. And they wanted quality products and they wanted education and that was my impetus.”
Erin believes more curiosity about cannabis has come because so many are desperate for an alternative from the pharmaceutical industry. “I think so much about how many lives could have been saved. Especially in the opioid market if cannabis were not illegal,” she says.
Then in 2016, Erin joined with Karli Warner, a friend from her wine industry days at Constellation, and Garden Society was born. As a working mother and wife to a cancer survivor, Warner shared Gore’s vision to make cannabis more accessible to women. The two set out to create artisanal cannabis products that could also help in breaking down education about cannabis as well as reducing the stigma. In California, Garden Society has been providing craft cannabis edibles and sun grown pre-rolls to consumers for more than nine years, and has also since started a manufacturing operation to ensure quality of their products. Today, they have partnerships with others to do the same. Ohio is the first market to which they’ve chosen to expand, with New Jersey on deck in the coming months.
Garden Society edibles are now available in Ohio in gummies and chocolates. Four categories of effects help narrow down the expectations: Bright, Rest, Calm, Joyful & Present.
Erin explains: “We started with Brighter Day (or ‘Bright’ as we’re calling it in Ohio), and Blissful Rest (or ‘Rest’ as we’re calling it in Ohio) as our primary effects. We then added our Calm & Focus (or ‘Calm’ as we’re calling it in Ohio) line which is our high CBD line.That’s high CBD/low THC. And then we just added our Joyful & Present line. It’s a THCV line, which is super interesting and new for the California market. We’re going to be rolling it out in the Ohio market the second half of this year.”
For those unfamiliar, THCV is chemically similar to THC – and both interact with the same receptors in the body –but its effects are generally more aligned with CBD. Namely, THCV has little-to-no psychoactive effect, so it generally won’t cause an altered state of consciousness, and like CBD, it appears to have a high potential for therapeutic uses.
Erin notes that the colors (blue, orange, pink, green) coordinate to their effects, but those effects span across different categories. “So it makes it really clear to understand our products,” she said, for both patients and budtenders. With the vast amount of products to choose from in the dispensary, keeping track of terpenes and cannabinoids can be confusing. And it can be more complicated when examining product effects across various strains and forms of administration.
Garden Society wants to offer a comfortable experience without having to think too hard about the science. “For instance, I don’t know the strain, but it’s orange. So I know this is a sativa-leaner from Garden Society and this is going to give me energy and uplift me.”
Garden Society’s Edible Products in Ohio
In Ohio, Grafton’s Farkas Farms partners with Erin and her team for cultivation and processing, connecting premium Ohio marijuana with the quality, craft manufacturing standards that Garden Society is known for in California. Six products are now available for Ohio patients:
Three offerings of chocolates are available: Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt (Rest category), Dark chocolate with Chili (Bright category) and Milk Chocolate with Chai (Calm category)
Erin says: “Our chocolates are all full spectrum. So they’re all full of cannabinoids, terpenes, phyto lipids–all the good stuff of the plant. And they are full onset (an hour and a half to two hours) but last up to six and a half hours. And those are 10 milligrams per piece. They’re truffles. They’re like a little bit ‘higher rent’ chocolates and they are really delicious.”
Three offerings of wine country-inspired rapid effect gummies are available: Peach Nectar (Bright category), Tart Cherry Vanilla (Rest category) and Strawberry Rosé (Calm category). “All of our gummies are five milligrams, there’s 100 milligrams in the packet. They’re all nanotechnology so they’re all fast-onset.”
Erin says: “We do our own nano and that creates a rapid onset. Most edibles digest through the liver. It’s a delta 11 transaction of the THC molecule. So it takes about an hour and a half to two hours to fully feel the effect of it. Ours take 20 to 30 minutes because we nano-emulsify it. So we changed the molecule size of the THC. It absorbs differently in your body, and therefore the onset is faster and it doesn’t last as long. It’s really cool to bring this type of technology to the market in a way that patients can start to really understand and experience cannabis products that they can use for all sorts of different aspects of their wellness.”
Coming Soon: Terpene-Rich Live Hash Rosin Gummies
The brand will also launch a terpene-rich live hash rosin in a couple of months. Live Hash Rosin is one of the purest forms of cannabis extracts created using only water, ice and pressure. Their collaboration with Farkas Farms brings one of the first solventless, strain-specific concentrates to Ohio.
Garden Society is a B-Corporation with a purpose to promote the health and welfare of women through education and responsibly sourced products, and such other public benefits while operating in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Where to Buy
Garden Society will launch medicinal edibles, including chocolates and gummies, at:
- Bloom Medicinals Seven Mile
- Bloom Medicinals Columbus
- Bloom Medicinals Akron
- Bloom Medicinals Painesville
- Strawberry Fields Columbus
- Columbia Care Marietta
- Columbia Care Logan
- Verdant Columbus
- Harvest Columbus
- Harvest Beavercreek
- Story Cannabis Coshocton – opening soon
- Uplift Milford
- Gleaf Warren