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There’s now a farmers’ market for cannabis lovers—and it’s happening this weekend


Emerald Exchange cannabis festival Pin It
Photo: Instagram/@emeraldexchange

A two-day festival in the Malibu mountains where you can enjoy a five-course cannabis-infused dinner, try a Ganja Yoga class, and attend a sound-healing session sounds like something dreamed up by a stoner after eating a tray of “special” brownies. But it’s very real—and it’s happening this weekend.

Emerald Exchange, which launched in 2016 and now hosts gatherings twice a year, falls somewhere between a cannabis trade show and a woo-woo retreat. “It’s like a farmers’ market with an L.A. vibe,” says Jessica Cure of Cure Designs, who produces the event alongside co-founders Justin Calvino and Michael Katz. “There’s food, wellness, music.” 

The wellness part of the triptych is key for the event’s founders. “It started based out of a need and desire to create something different by a group who fundamentally believes cannabis is a plant medicine,” Cure says. She herself entered the scene after using the herb to treat chronic pain caused by an autoimmune disease. “I remember feeling so sick that I would cry in every yoga class,” Cure says. “Cannabis started as a tool for the pain and getting off of pills, and then it led me down the road of health.”

“It’s about positive energy and healing experience, where you can just be creative.”

In order to gain a greater understanding of cannabis and its healing properties, Emerald Exchange puts consumers into direct contact with vendors and farmers. “People want to know where their food comes from, why wouldn’t they want to know where their cannabis comes from?” Cure says of the farm-to-vaporizer ethos. “A lot of the dispensaries are sterile environments, but at our farmers’ market you can meet with the farmers and see their authenticity.”

But while Emerald Exchange may be a high-vibes playground, it’s not just about cannabis, according to Cure. “At the end of the day, I want the festival to be something where you can not use any cannabis products at all and still have a blast,” she says. And there are plenty of non-THC-fueled sessions on the schedule, from guided meditation sessions to reiki. “We create something you can bring your mom to,” Cure says. (She’s not kidding: A pain management workshop for Baby Boomers is on the calendar.) “It feels comfortable for everyone.”

After 10 years in the nascent natural beauty industry, Jessica Assaf went to Harvard Business School thinking she’d come out with a next-level beauty idea—instead she graduated with a plan for revolutionizing the cannabis product industry, with women at the helm. Now she’s one of thousands of other entrepreneurs who are cultivating the plant as a wellness ingredient, and founder of Cannabis Feminist, a go-to for (ridiculously fascinating) intel on the movement. 

Interested in incorporating the, ahem, buzzy plant into your wellness routine but unsure where to start? Here are the answers to the five most common questions women have about using cannabis for health. And no, you don’t need to get high to experience the benefits.