Women's Lib: Sava Talks Artisanal Cannabis Goods

Working in retail as a higher calling.

Andrea Brooks started using medical weed a few years after she sustained an injury that left her with systemic nerve damage.

She lost her career and everything she had worked for, and was told by doctors that her condition was permanent and she could look forward to some other fairly bleak outcomes. Though she wasn't a pot person before, Brooks turned to cannabis and found a road to recovery.

She was so inspired that she founded Sava, the Etsy for artisanal and amazing weed products. 

Now, Sava is the premier marketplace for high-quality, cannabis-infused topicals, tinctures, edibles, and flowers available for free next business day delivery within California. 

The Kind: How do you curate these goods for the site?

Andrea Brooks: We have a multi-pronged approach. When looking at a potential provider, we research both the source of the medicine in the product, as well as the other ingredients used. It's very important to us that the products be health-supportive; so we want to understand the whole package. We also want to have a clear understanding of how each and every product is made. Beyond the contents of the products, we work with a couple of different focus groups that give feedback. This often includes feedback about the packaging/branding of certain products and if they are appealing. Our focus groups are made up of existing patients, as well as patients new to cannabis.

I love learning about everyone's personal journey and for the provider's on Sava, sharing what makes them unique. 

I'm also looking at integrity, motivation, and passion. One of my favorite things about working in the cannabis industry is learning the individual stories that lead people to enter. I've found that most people, like myself, have had a life-changing experience that inspired them to become a provider. I love learning about everyone's personal journey and for the provider's on Sava, sharing what makes them unique. It really helps make the whole experience more intimate for patients—they can see who is making the product, how it was made, *why* it is being made.

We believe it's critical to share these stories. Not only are they incredibly uplifting, it helps dispel negative stereotypes about cannabis.

The Kind: Tell me about women in the cannabis space. Are there many of them?

Andrea Brooks: Oh, yes! So many amazing women, and I'm lucky enough to call them my friends and colleagues.

I'm frequently meeting women at all different stages. There are the inspiring pioneers that have helped pave the way for future generations, more recent female entrepreneurs that have entered the space in the past few years, as well as women that are currently exploring and wanting to learn. I've found a strong sense of community, idea-sharing, and supporting each other moving forward with our business ideas, rather than viewing one another as competitors.

Last year, I became involved with Women Grow. I am now one of the Bay Area Chapter co-chairs. I've met the majority of women I know through this organization, and I am glad there is a platform to specifically support women in the cannabis space.

However, while there are so many women in the industry already as well as many entering, there still needs to be more work done to show the full representation. Components of the industry still employ "booth babes" as ways to market their products. It's tired, outdated. I'd also love to see conference panels that are dominated by women with a sprinkling of men, as opposed to the other way around, especially when it comes to the intersection of cannabis and technology. Some events are starting to improve upon this; some need to catch up. We'll get there.

The Kind: Do I need a medical marijuana card to order? What are the challenges with this process?

Andrea Brooks: Yes, a medical marijuana card is needed to order. And yes, there are challenges to this. Not a challenge necessarily to getting a card in and of itself; we work with an amazing telehealth provider, HelloMD, that has a smooth, professional system. 

The challenge is more about fear about what having a card means. Some folks are concerned about data privacy, where the data will show up, how it may affect their career or personal life. I can understand some of the concern. I think understanding how the system works eases the concerns of some; others may not act until Adult Use becomes legal. As such, we do our best to provide education.

A key component is understanding that California's cannabis card database provides more privacy protection to California patients than many other states do. In fact, California doesn't even store personal information in its state database. Rather, the database only contains a unique user ID, which is used to show a card as being either valid or invalid. Moreover, any conversations you have with a doctor regarding your personal health information and the reasons you may or may not want to use cannabis as a part of your treatment plan are protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), a federal regulation which protects patient health information.

The Kind: What is your favorite cannabis product?

Andrea Brooks: I really don't know if I can choose just one. So many are beneficial in different ways. Much of Sava is about educating existing and new patients about topicals, tinctures, and edibles—all the different ways the plant can be used to heal. These various usages don't always get the attention they deserve.

Much of my personal self-care revolves around CBD. I'm frequently using the high CBD tinctures from Treatwell as well as the topical Relief Balm from Flour Child and the Raw CBD Sipping Cacao from Om Edibles. The CBD dominant pop tartlettes from Treat Yourself are also amazing. See what I mean when I say I can't just choose one?

I also use THC-dominant products. At this point, I feel quite tuned into the medicine and what specific amount of product I can use at what time of day to help. I am also a fan of the cannabis flowers and regularly smoke or vaporize as well. We have an amazing partner farm in Mendocino that we work with and also feature pre-rolls from The Hepburns—we get an incredible amount of positive feedback from patients about them.