How Cannabis Affects Women and Men Differently

Note: Our Leaf411 Blog periodically shares articles from The Cannigma, a trusted resource for research-backed medical cannabis education and information. 

This article was originally published on The Cannigma and appears here with permission.

by Ben Hartman

Medically reviewed by Dr. Joseph Morgan, MD

Nov 25, 2020

The cannabis experience is significantly influenced by mindset (intention/expectation) and setting (environments of consumption and post drug onset). One’s male or female biological sex can also affect the mind and body reaction to cannabis, alongside and in concert with a number of other factors, including an individual’s endocannabinoid system and the cannabis chemovar(s) being used. 

Biological sex-associated differences can range from how strongly the effects are felt, side effects like anxiety, changes in heart rate, effectiveness at relieving pain, and sexual arousal. Researchers have even found that the risks of cannabis abuse and driving under the influence differ for men and women.  

Biological sex-associated differences can range from how strongly the effects are felt to how well it treats pain. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

How does that work?

The differences in how the body reacts to drugs, how drugs act on the body, and dose, all play a role in the ways that some medications can have a different — and potentially more dangerous — reaction for women than men. 

A Swedish study from 2008 said that “many but not all, such gender related differences can be explained by the effects of sex hormones,” and added that while sex differences in drug response can be seen on the receptor level, there is a paucity of research on the matter. 

The overall lack of an explanation into the “why” of gender differences in drug reactions and efficacy is a recurring theme in the research, but a number of studies have already asserted that there are at least some clear differences in how men and women use cannabis. 

Why cannabis affects men and women differently

Scientists are not all in agreement about how and why sex differences lead to different effects of cannabinoids and cannabis. The theories include hormonal differences, muscle mass and fat ratios, volume of cannabinoid drug distribution, and cannabinoid metabolism in the liver.

One review of existing research found that sex differences in cannabinoid effects might be from different pharmacodynamics (how drugs affect an organism), and pharmacokinetics (how the organism affects drugs), both of which influence dosing, benefits, and adverse effects. Sex differences with cannabis are also due at least in part to the ways males and females experience emotions as well as “differences in muscle mass at fat tissue distribution between males and females.”

The researchers were careful to add though, that “investigation of such differences is still at an early stage.” 

They did stipulate that some of the differences they found in their review included that, among non-marijuana smokers, “men are more sensitive to the subjective effects of delta-9-THC alone than women,” and that women “report significantly more dizziness than men.” They clarified though that they did not find any gender differences in regard to how THC affects impulsivity (disinhibition). 

The review also found that preclinical studies show that men may be more receptive to the hunger-inducing effects of cannabis (the munchies). 

However, females are still underrepresented in clinical research and if these studies “routinely included subjects of both sexes, greater progress in the field would be reached in a shorter time. Clinical studies should also report all findings, whether positive or negative, in order to quantitatively define the issues related to the gender differences in cannabis consumption,” the researchers added.

Yet another theory holds that sex can actually impact how sensitive one is to cannabinoids.

The authors of the study that produced that theory wrote that there is growing evidence to show the endocannabinoid system is sexually dimorphic (it has two different forms) and that hormone differences could seemingly be the basis for the different ways men and women react to cannabinoids like those in cannabis.

The ways weed affects men and women differently

Stronger effects for women

While feeling stronger effects of cannabis might be a good thing in some situations, it can also have its down-side. 

A study published in 2020 found that females exhibited greater peak blood concentrations of an important cannabis metabolite and greater subjective ratings of “drug effect,” even when controlling for body weight. These drug effects included ratings of “anxious/nervous,” “heart racing,” and “restless,” which were significantly higher among the female respondents. 

The researchers concluded that starting doses for females should be lower, and that public health officials should issue warnings about the higher risk of acute anxiety related reactions among female cannabis users.

More effective at reducing pain for men

There is evidence that cannabis has a stronger pain-reducing effect on male users than it does for women.

Researchers, who published a 2016 study on the matter, had 42 people put their hands in ice water — some given cannabis with THC and others cannabis without THC — and found that the men in the group were able to keep their hands in the cold water longer than the women. 

It should be noted, however, that the cannabis used in the experiment had relatively low levels of THC (3.56-5.60%), and cannabis with levels closer to what is available in the medical and recreational markets could have led to different results.

More sexually arousing for women

Numerous studies over the years have found that women who use cannabis have more sexual satisfaction — and the more they use the greater the satisfaction

A survey-based study published in 2020 found that “Increased frequency of marijuana use is associated with improved sexual function among female users, whereas chemovar type, method of consumption, and reason for use does not impact outcomes.”

For men, it’s a little bit of a different story. One study suggested “some experienced (male) smokers have derived an enhancement of sexual pleasure while they were using marijuana.” 

The question of erectile dysfunction, however, still hangs undecided. Some subjects in studies have reported superior erectile function, while others the opposite.

Those studies, however, aren’t the final word — in 2010, researchers found that the influence of cannabis on sexual behavior appeared “to be dose-dependent in both men and women.”

This article’s medical editor points out, the presence of pesticides or other contaminants could also adversely impact sexual function, memory impairment, and in other ways reduce the quality  of the cannabis experience.

How men and women use cannabis differently

There is growing evidence to show the endocannabinoid system is sexually dimorphic — that it has two different forms. (Darrin Harris Frisby/Drug Policy Alliance)

Gender differences in risk perception, stigma, intake method, the role of peer pressure, and propensity to develop a dependency (Cannabis Use Disorder) have all been asserted in published research in recent years. 

Females “[are] nearly two times more likely to perceive risk in regular marijuana use compared with males,” a study from 2015 found, though it added that the perceived risk among women dropped from 59% in 2002 to 47% in 2012. 

A comprehensive review of existing research published in March 2020 found that when women use cannabis, they “transition more quickly to cannabis use dependence compared to males.”

This doesn’t mean that women are more prone to develop Cannabis Use Disorder, rather those that do, develop it on average 4.7 years after they first use marijuana, as opposed to 5.8 years for men. The study found there was no difference between men and women in terms of how old they were when they first started using cannabis. 

Gender-based stigmas and quality of life effects

Among other differences, the review found that “the negative effect of cannabis use on mental quality of life scores was more pronounced for women.” Part of this may be social in nature, in that women may face greater stigma and discrimination for using substances like cannabis, according to the researchers. Another reason could be greater sensitivity to contaminants.

In other words, those women who do develop Cannabis Use Disorder not only do so quicker than men on average, but they feel it more intensely, in part because of the greater stigma attached towards women who consume cannabis. 

The stigma might be partly because men are more likely to use marijuana, and thus it’s more expected of them, if not more accepted. A 2019 National Cannabis Survey in Canada found that 18.4% of male respondents had smoked cannabis in the three months prior, as opposed to only 15.1% of women. 

Doctors less likely to support medical cannabis for women

Furthermore, there may also be differences in how medical professionals consider cannabis use by female patients. A survey of 361 medical cannabis users in Illinois, for instance, found that women reported “lower levels of support from physicians for [medical cannabis] use.”

The study also found that women were more likely to decrease their use of other prescription medications after receiving a medical marijuana license — particularly from a physician supportive of their cannabis use.

Women eat more edibles, men smoke more flower

But what about when men and women actually get high? Is there a gender difference in the consumption methods used? That same National Cannabis Survey found that men are more likely to smoke marijuana flower and women are more likely than men to use edibles, while a separate Canadian study from 2019 found that men were more likely to prefer vaping cannabis (15.8% vs 10.8% of women), and surmised that this could be because taking edibles is more discrete and allows women to easier avoid scrutiny for using cannabis. 

Women don’t drive while high as often as men

Perhaps the most glaring difference could be in terms of driving while under the influence of cannabis. A 2018 report compiled in the US found that while 43.9% of male reported driving after using cannabis, only 8.7% of female respondents had. 

In summary, common sense, anecdotal evidence, and scientific studies tell us that each person’s experiences with cannabis may be influenced by dose, route of administration, frequency of use, assessment of risk, their biological sex, hormonal environment, expectations (set), and context of use (setting).

Does Cannabis Interact with Other Medications?

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

According to a Consumer Reports study, approximately half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug every day. Many more people take non-prescription, over-the-counter painkillers, antacids and other medications.

Not surprisingly, a fair number of these people are seeking alternatives to their medications. In many cases, people are turning to cannabis—either marijuana (cannabis containing >0.3% THC, which is sold legally in dispensaries) or cannabidiol (CBD) hemp products sold in retail stores and online.

This trend grew in 2020, with additional states legalizing adult-use (recreational) or medical marijuana, and increased awareness around the plant’s potential after cannabis was deemed essential during pandemic-related lockdowns. 

As more consumers turn to cannabis for wellness and relief, we decided it was time to republish our Leaf411 article addressing common concerns with potential drug interactions with cannabis products, including both marijuana and CBD hemp. 

We will also be covering this topic early next year in a Leaf Learning series we’re putting together for older adults, though all are welcome. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page to stay updated on this Leaf Learning event!

Smiling senior woman on phone holding medication box, asking about drug interactions with cannabis.

Thinking About Adding Cannabis to Your Medicine Cabinet? Talk to a Healthcare Provider First.

We always suggest that you talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new medication. That includes CBD hemp or marijuana. Our Leaf411 cannabis-trained nurses can provide education and guidance on adding plant medicine into your regimen for you to share with your healthcare team. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) for personalized help.

Also, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before stopping any prescription medication. It is imperative that your prescribing physician should always be the one who guides you with stopping or weaning off any pharmaceuticals.

Understanding How Cannabis Interacts With Other Medications

Have you ever wondered why you’re told to not drink grapefruit juice with certain prescription drugs?

Prescription bottle with warning labels to not eat grapefruit while taking medication, and to take medication as prescribed.

When you take medicine by mouth, it passes through your digestive system. The digestive system’s enzymes metabolize (break down) the medicine in your liver so that some of it can enter your bloodstream. The medicine dose takes into account normal digestive processes.

However, grapefruit juice affects several digestive enzymes. It blocks the enzymes’ action, and can result in too much or too little of the drug entering your bloodstream.

What does this have to do with cannabis? Well, the cannabinoids in cannabis—especially CBD—affect your digestive enzymes in a similar way that grapefruit does. In fact, scientists have found that CBD has an even stronger effect on the cytochrome P450 enzyme than grapefruit.

Generic statin medication pills on top of a cholesterol test results page.

Cannabis, Statins, and Blood Thinners: Use Caution

An emerging area of concern is with cardiovascular medications, including statins and blood thinners. Many of these medications are metabolized by the same liver enzymes as cannabis. As a result, people who use cannabis while also taking statins or blood thinners may end up getting a higher dose of their prescription medicine than they intended, since the liver is breaking down the drug differently than normal.

Does this mean you cannot use cannabis? Not necessarily. The key is to talk with your provider and discuss any changes that need to be made to your medication dosage, frequency or timing. You might consider sharing the link to this article from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology which provides very conservative guidance for doctors to use as a screening tool who have no experience or knowledge about cannabis.

Outstretched arm with fingers pinched together to indicate starting slow with cannabis.

The Benefit of Starting Slow with Cannabis

Not all drugs are metabolized by the same liver enzymes. However, even if you’re taking medications that are not directly impacted by cannabis in your digestive system, it’s worth it to start with a low dose of marijuana or CBD, and to go slow. By starting slow, you can see how the addition of marijuana or CBD impacts your ongoing medications (after checking with a healthcare provider, of course!).

Also, Dr. David Gordon (Dr. Dave), founder of 4Pillars Health & Wellness, notes that people usually only need a small dose of cannabis for therapeutic benefits. This minimizes the risk of side effects. Dr. Dave explains that as an integrative physician, “We start with just a small amount, just to stimulate our own internal system. These are dosages that often don’t cause any intoxication or have any significant interaction.”

Dr. Dave is experienced at looking up potential interactions with medicinal cannabis. He’s found that most drug interactions don’t preclude someone from using cannabis, though he notes that drug doses may need to be adjusted. (You can read more from our recent interview with Dr. Dave here.

Smiling Black woman holding out smartphone with the Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline homepage shown.

Getting Answers to Your Cannabis Questions

Our Leaf411 hotline nurses have special training on cannabis-medication interactions. They also have access to a robust database of research.

We encourage you to call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411) with your questions about how CBD or marijuana may interact with other medications you are taking.  

Also, remember that we will be covering this topic in Spring 2021 during our free, virtual Leaf Learning event for older adults. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date on this and other Leaf411 events!

Leaf411 Year in Review and Predictions for 2021

Reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

As the year wraps up, we’re sharing highlights from Leaf411’s first full year in operation, along with our plans and predictions for 2021. While we talk a lot about the Leaf411 hotline, it’s only one of several programs our organization is undertaking to improve access to no-cost medically-sound information on legal cannabis and CBD hemp products!

The need for balanced, unbiased cannabis information is greater than ever, with additional states voting for medical and adult-use (recreational) legalization in the 2020 election. As a result, one in three Americans now lives in a state where adult-use cannabis is already legal or will be legal soon.

Answering Your Cannabis Questions on Our Free RN Hotline

Our Leaf411 hotline launched in October 2019, with the online chat option going live in January 2020. During the hotline’s first full year of operation, we received calls from almost all 50 states as well as several other countries! Who’s calling? It’s a mix of patients, new and experienced cannabis consumers, as well as clinical professionals seeking to expand their own knowledge to better serve their patients.

With more states legalizing cannabis, we anticipate that demand will rapidly grow for medically-sound, science-based guidance on cannabis and CBD hemp use. 

Moving into 2021, our biggest challenge is securing increased funding to hire additional Leaf RNs for the hotline. If you’re a cannabis business interested in supporting consumers’ access to free, unbiased information and resources, we encourage you to visit our business membership page. Individuals can also support our mission by donating at this link.

Laptop screen showing diverse participants in a virtual cannabis education event.

Cannabis Community Outreach Goes Virtual

From the beginning, we envisioned Leaf411 as a boots-on-the-ground organization, with our nurses meeting people where they are at both figuratively and literally, whether that’s at a senior living center, community event or dispensary.

Of course, the pandemic changed those plans. Like many other organizations, we pivoted to virtual learning events designed to engage and encourage audience questions and conversation. In August 2020, we held our inaugural Leaf Learning Series: “Get the 411 on Cannabis Therapeutics” event, followed by our “Supporting Veterans” event in November 2020, which featured Veteran-led cannabis advocacy groups as well as many of our supporting members.

In 2020, Leaf411 also participated in numerous national events either as panel participants or nonprofit exhibitors, including the Whole Plant Expo, Women in Plant Medicine Summit, MJBizCon Next, Emerge Winter Cannabis Conference, and I Heart 420 Living Room Lovefest held on April 20, 2020.

In the near-term, virtual events remain the default as we work within pandemic restrictions. Our next Leaf Learning Series event in Spring 2021 will be geared toward older adults and cannabis—keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for more details! Not signed up for the newsletter yet? You’ll find the signup form at the bottom of this page.

We are also expanding outreach through our podcast series co-hosted by Leaf411 Co-Founder and COO Jennifer Axcell and podcaster Steve McMorrow. Jennifer and Steve recently sat down with Veterans to talk about cannabis and healing. You can find these insightful, inspiring podcast episodes on Buzzsprout or Spotify.

Close-up of a young Black person using a calculator to update their budget

Cannabis Compassion: Making Cannabis Affordable for Patients in Need

In 2020, we launched our Affordability Program to connect low-income patients, families and Veterans with fully-vetted free or low-cost legal cannabis and CBD hemp products. These products are donated by cannabis and CBD hemp manufacturers, with marijuana products distributed via legal dispensaries, and CBD hemp products distributed by a designated pick-up location or mail. The Affordability Program also offers scholarships to qualifying patients who cannot afford medical marijuana evaluations. So far this year, the Affordability Program has served approximately 200 patients.

Americans for Safe Access signed on to the effort as a program partner in November 2020, recognizing that the high cost of cannabis is a barrier for many patients. If you’re a patient advocate or industry member who’d like to lend your support, we encourage you to visit our Affordability Program page to learn more.

Nurse on a laptop completing clinical cannabis education.

Building the Leaf Nurse Network in 2021

From the very first day, one of our priorities at Leaf411 was to build clinical professionals’ capacity for providing accurate, balanced information to diverse patient communities. In 2020, we began laying the groundwork through our collaboration with Radicle Health, inviting Radicle Health founder Eloise Theisen, RN, to join our Executive Board as the Leaf Nurse Network Program Chair.

We also knew that in order to meaningfully serve diverse communities, we needed to engage diverse partners in Leaf Nurse Network program development. We are excited to collaborate with Cannabis in Colour, a professional development resource and intentional community for BIPOC in the cannabis and hemp sectors, as we continue building the Leaf Nurse Network.

Asphalt road through forest with the years “2020,” “2021,” etc. stretching ahead toward the future.

Growing Our Leaf411 Business Membership

Our industry supporters expanded, literally from coast to coast! We welcomed West Coast supporters CAASI CBD (Oregon), Care by Design (California) and A Therapeutic Alternative dispensary (California), along with East Coast supporter Takoma Wellness Center dispensary (Washington DC).  

We also welcomed many great Colorado cannabis and CBD businesses–check out our Member Directory to find a full list of our fully-vetted supporting members! 

We can’t thank our industry members enough for their support, which powers everything we do at Leaf411. We encourage you to keep these businesses in mind when shopping for legal marijuana or CBD hemp products.

Diverse group of college graduates throwing caps in air, celebrating new cannabis degrees

Cannabis is Expanding in Higher Education

Beyond our walls, cannabis continues expanding into higher education (no pun intended!), further establishing the industry as a professional field within its own right.

Our own Co-Founder and CEO/ED, Katherine Golden, RN, will be presenting a noncredit workshop in March 2021 at the Community College of Denver. The workshop is part of a preview series for CCD’s Associates and Bachelors in Cannabis degree program that launches in Fall 2021. Other workshop presenters include Dr. Dave Gordon from 4 Pillars Health & Wellness, along with representatives from LivWell dispensary. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to learn more details on these offerings, once available.

White notepad with crafted string heart and cannabis leaf resting on top

Help Our Nonprofit Cannabis Organization Grow in 2021!

We look forward to continued expansion in 2021, but we cannot do it without you! Please donate to our nonprofit Leaf411 organization if you’re able to, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and help us spread the word about the services that Leaf411 provides for patients, consumers, clinicians and industry partners.

Holiday Cookies & Cinnamon Sticks

Leaf411 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

What a year 2020 has been! This holiday season, we are more appreciative than ever of the people and products that have gotten us through this year—and that includes CBD hemp and marijuana!

For Leaf411’s Second Annual Holiday Gift Guide, we’re focusing on a few of Leaf411’s newer supporting members who bring a combination of passion, innovation and high-quality standards to all that they do. All of these companies provide Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for their products, so you can trust that you’re getting what you pay for in terms of product strength and quality. (Of course, that’s true for all our members—so be sure to check out our Member Directory as well for trusted brands, retailers, clinicians and ancillary businesses!)

CBD Hemp: The Gift That Fits and Is Easy to Ship!

CBD hemp is federally legal and can be shipped across state lines, making it an ideal gift for out-of-state friends or relatives, as well as those who are new to plant medicine. As you may recall, CBD hemp contains less than 0.3% THC and is not intoxicating—it will not make someone feel “high.”

Many people have found that CBD hemp products are a great addition to their overall wellness and skincare regimens, and a growing number of athletes swear by CBD hemp for non-intoxicating post-workout recovery.

What CBD hemp products are on our gift lists at Leaf411 this year?

CAASI Water Soluable CBD Beverage Drops bottle containing CBD that easily mixes with drinks

CAASI Water Soluble CBD Beverage Drops – CAASI drops are available in a trial size or full size dropper designed to infuse into your favorite recipe or drink, with no residual bitterness. The CBD in these convenient, flavorless beverage drops is sourced from high-quality hemp grown in Oregon, extracted and manufactured to create highly-bioavailable CBD isolate (with all THC and other plant compounds removed) that is blended with MCT oil and water. CAASI also recently rolled out a new Soothing Body Lotion packed with CBD and other essential oils designed to support relaxation. A CBD isolate is ideal for anyone needing to steer clear of any THC for reasons such as employment drug testing and the CAASI drops fit this category perfectly. Learn more at:

trupura CBD Chocolate Covered Cherry Milk Chocolate Bar package showing 30 mg CBD per 1-piece serving, and a total of 300 mg CBD per bar

trupura CBD Chocolate Covered Cherry Milk Chocolate Bar – Take your holiday chocolate game to the next level with trupura’s handcrafted broad-spectrum CBD-infused chocolate bars. The trupura brand (yes – the name is all lower case!) was created by the founders of the award-winning incredibles cannabis edibles as they brought their decades of experience to the hemp space. trupura offers CBD hemp chocolate bars, gummies and tinctures, as well as topical relief cream, salve and bath salts. Leaf411 CEO/ED Katherine Golden, RN, tried this product herself and declared the quality of chocolate as truly enjoyable. Find their products online at: 

Trust Biologic CBD Facial Serum bottle showing 300 mg of CBD in the 30 mL / 1 fluid oz bottle

TRUST Biologic CBD Facial Serum – Living in Colorado’s arid climate, we know the value of high-quality skin products like TRUST Biologic’s facial serum to moisturize and protect skin. TRUST Biologic also offers a Pain Gel and 50/50 Cream providing both CBD and CBG, a non-intoxicating minor cannabinoid that provides additional wellness benefits. Learn more about TRUST Biologic’s skincare line at:

Also, remember to check out our other Leaf411 members offering CBD hemp products that make great gifts for friends, family and even family pets!

  • CBD Garage – Online retailer carrying Colorado’s most trusted CBD hemp brands, as well as nutritional supplements and adaptogens
  • Care by Design – CBD hemp drops and capsules designed for rest, relief, calm, balance and uplift
  • Mary’s Nutritionals – CBD hemp skincare and transdermal products made for restoration and relief
  • Mary’s Tails – CBD hemp tinctures, capsules, balms and transdermal gel created for our four-legged friends
  • Press Pause Project – Tea, topicals and tinctures infused with CBD hemp, designed with the active woman in mind
  • Wana Wellness – Organic, vegan, gluten-free gummies and fast-acting tinctures made with broad-spectrum CBD hemp

Sharing the Love with Your Colorado Friends

No doubt that holidays will be different this year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t share the love of cannabis with your friends. This year, instead of passing the joint or vape, we suggest gifting pre-rolls to nearby friends (remember that it’s prohibited to ship cannabis products!). Our recommendation for celebration and looking forward to 2021?

Escape Artists Live Resin infused preroll joint with a glass tip, sitting on top of colorful packaging

Escape Artists Live Resin Infused Joints – Each pre-rolled joint features 0.75g Colorado-grown flower infused with .25g live resin sourced from Harmony Extracts, along with a glass tip that provides a clean smoking experience. Best of all, a portion of Escape Artists’ preroll sales will go to Leaf411’s Affordability Program!

We love that Escape Artists is supporting the work we do at Leaf411! They are only one of many cannabis brands giving back this year.

  • Altus – Cannabis-infused natural fruit gummies and tablets in a range of CBD:THC ratios, spanning three pillars: Ritual; Therapeutic; and Enhance
  • Care by Design – Cannabis gummies, tinctures, soft gels, vape carts and topicals offered in a wide range of CBD:THC ratios to meet different needs
  • Conscious Medz – Single strain olive-oil infused tinctures and infused chocolate bars delivering full-plant benefits
  • incredibles – Infused candy bars, gummies, tarts and mints with a fun twist
  • Mary’s Medicinals – Health-focused cannabis transdermal patches and topicals, along with tinctures, capsules and distillate vape products
  • Medically Correct – Parent brand of Leaf411 supporting members Trupura CBD, incredibles, and Quiq, as well as other industry-leading brands
  • Quiq – Cannabis-infused edibles and topicals that utilize rapid uptake technology, so that users feel faster-acting and more potent effects. Available in regular strength, extra strength and several ratios
  • Ripple by Stillwater – Fast-acting dissolvable powder designed to be mixed into beverages or food, along with gummies and QuickSticks flavored powder 
  • Sweet Releaf – Cannabis-infused topicals, including body butter and dry oil designed for comfort and relief
  • Wana Brands – Cannabis-infused vegan gummies in classic and fast-acting forms, along with fast-acting tinctures, tarts, extended-release capsules and vapes sold in nine states and counting

A Different Kind of Dispensary

Looking for a friendly dispensary to recommend to family and friends for holiday shopping? All of our dispensary supporting members are exceptional, focused on providing exceptional customer service and top-of-the-line products in friendly, safe environments. You really cannot go wrong by visiting any of our supporting members! However, we have a soft spot for one of our newer supporting members, Nature’s Gift Shop, and it’s not just because they have a hand-carved statue of Willie Nelson in their store!

Logo for Nature’s Gift Shop, a medical and adult-use dispensary located in Pueble West, CO

Nature’s Gift Shop (Pueblo West, Colorado) –In 2015, the Irey family opened Nature’s Gift Shop, located in Pueblo West, Colorado, bringing Dan Irey’s experience as a licensed grower and caregiver. The family-owned dispensary has deep appreciation for plant medicine, as well as a longstanding commitment to giving back to community. Nature’s Gift Shop is one of the Leaf411 Affordability Program’s earliest supporters, helping the program connect financially-disadvantaged cannabis patients with low-cost, legal marijuana. Learn more about Nature’s Gift Shop at:

Woman holding phone looking at screen with questioning expression, with question mark thought bubble

For the Friend with Questions

You’ve shared a thoughtful cannabis-themed gift with a friend or family member, and their immediate response is a question: “How do I use this?” or “Will it interfere with my medications?” Don’t worrythe free, anonymous Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline has you covered!

Our Leaf nurses are happy to answer any CBD hemp or cannabis questions you, your friends or family members may have. Share our toll-free number, 844-LEAF411, with others and remind them that our hotline services are free, anonymous and trusted, with guidance based on research, specialized clinical training and experience.

For patients and consumers in need of a more in-depth medical consultation or a med card, we recommend the following providers:

  • Vibrant Health Clinic – Vibrant Health Clinic is locally owned and operated in Southern Colorado since 2010, and has been setting the standard for our industry since the beginning. Dr. Margaret Gedde and Dr. Akiva Thomas will help you complete all necessary state forms and new online registration. They offer exams for adults and children under age 18. Notary service is also included with your exam. Learn more and set up an appointment at:
  • Radicle Health – Our Leaf411 Executive Board Member Eloise Theisen is co-founder of Radicle Health, which conducts telehealth appointments for patients across the U.S., as well as cannabis education resources and certifications for health care professionals. Learn more at:
  • 4 Pillars Health & Wellness – Our Leaf411 Advisory Board Member Dr. Dave Gordon is also an incredible resource, providing med card evaluations for Coloradans and teleheath recommendations nationally, as well as integrative and functional medical consultations. You can learn more about his practice, 4 Pillars Health & Wellness, at:  

Supporting Leaf411 This Holiday Season

If you are looking for a great way to support Leaf411 in addition to giving someone you love a wonderful gift, here are two ways to make that happen!

  1. Purchase a Stash Logix case via this special link. Stash Logix storage cases ensure safe keeping of your cannabis products. Whether you’re shopping for a gift or looking for a child-proof and discreet way to store your cannabis, shop with an impact! When you shop through this link, your purchase will support Leaf411’s mission to provide community education that advocates for the safe and effective use of cannabis from licensed medical professionals
  2. Purchase a Leaf411 support shirt from Bonfire!  Not only does this make a perfect stocking stuffer, every shirt purchased will provide Leaf411 with a percentage of the proceeds.  These proceeds help Leaf411 continue advocating that affordability and accessibility to professional medical advice should never be barriers to using cannabis safely and effectively.

We wish you, your family and friends a safe and peaceful holiday season. Remember that our Leaf nurses are here to answer your cannabis and CBD hemp questions for free at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411). You can also sign up for our monthly newsletter below to stay up-to-date on future Leaf Learning events! 

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.

Hands holding cannabis plant start, reflecting healing nature of cannabis

Patient-Powered Medication: One Leaf RN’s Personal Story of Cannabis and Healing

Note from Leaf411 Co-Founder and CEO/ED Katherine Golden, RN: I am incredibly appreciative and humbled by this powerful story shared by one of our hotline nurses. Many of us at Leaf411 have our own firsthand experiences with healing through CBD hemp or marijuana, or have seen how cannabis has helped family members, friends, and hotline callers across the country. Remember that the Leaf411 hotline is here for you, no matter where you’re at on your cannabis journey!

Hi, I’m one of the Leaf RNs that staff the Leaf411 hotline. If you listened to the CPR “On Something” podcast episode featuring Leaf411, you know my history within the cannabis industry. However, what you did not hear in that podcast was my personal journey with cannabis as a medicine and how it has helped me manage multiple mental health diagnoses of OCD, dyslexia, anxiety, depression and PTSD.

Sunny playground with children playing happily

Looking back, my early childhood was relatively normal. I was born the youngest of three kids in a middle upper-class family in the Midwest. I was a gymnast, basketball and baseball player who had high hopes of becoming a veterinarian. 

But the train fell off the tracks when I was 9 years old, and then again when I was a teen and in my late 20s.

Upset child sitting against wall, with shadow of arguing parents behind them

My parents divorced when I was 9. It was a rough time for our family, with a lot of drama. I was separated from them and moved to Oak Ridge Military Academy at the age of 12. At the end of the school year, I moved back in with my Mom in North Carolina, and was diagnosed with OCD, dyslexia, anxiety and depression. At this point in my life, I was started on Prozac and Zoloft. I was told this would help, end of story, but all the medication did was make me feel numb, like a zombie. 

I smoked weed for the first time shortly after starting antidepressants, and THAT actually helped! The first time I smoked, I finally felt like myself. Granted, I was 13 so I really didn’t know what “feeling” I was searching for. But when I was high, there wasn’t a sense of doom or gloom hanging over my head. I didn’t feel like I had done something wrong and for those four glorious hours, my brain was quiet from intrusive, repeating thoughts. However, cannabis was totally illegal in North Carolina at the time. I was putting myself and Mom at so much unrecognized risk! I was told I would never get to smoke weed again and I needed to “get it out of my head” that cannabis “helped” me.

Pills laid out to make unsmiling face with “x” for eyes, the numbing effect of psychiatric meds

At the age of 15, I was removed from middle school and shipped off to another boarding school  in Alabama. I continued taking antidepressants while attending the all-girls boarding school until I was 18, legally old enough to make my own decisions around my medical care. At that point, the doctors offered me antipsychotic medication, saying this would “do the trick.” I was insulted, knowing that I was not psychotic! I was anxious, depressed, and had a brain that liked to play tricks on me with numbers and letters! I refused to take any more medication and completely took myself off all of them. At the age of 18, I was, for the first time in my life, feeling what it was like to be human.  

My 20s were sober. I lived in Oklahoma with a very controlling boyfriend who increased my anxiety and depression. I longed for the days of feeling normal again but I couldn’t access cannabis, and I refused to go back on antidepressants. 

College graduate in cap and gown facing toward the sky, holding diploma aloft

At the age of 26, I graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a degree in Biology and moved to Colorado for a job in the cannabis industry with my brother! Once settled in Colorado, I had fantastic days with no intrusive thoughts, anxiety or depression. I was happy and getting to know my brother again in a beautiful, active state! I loved my job growing cannabis for those who suffered anxiety and depression, just like me. It was a great, fulfilling feeling. I rode this feeling for quite some time.

Dark room with door cracked open, letting in blue light, indicating fear and isolation

However, I suffered a setback at the age of 29 when I was raped by a fellow skydiver. After this incident, I was scared of everything: loud noises, things behind me, things touching my back. All I wanted to do was slowly fade into the darkness and be unknown. I quit skydiving and lived in a constant state of fear, wondering if this guy was going to find me and do it all over again.  I went to talk to someone and was diagnosed with PTSD. Again, all that was offered were antidepressants or benzodiazepines, like Xanax. I refused because I didn’t want to feel like a zombie again. Instead, I chose cannabis and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help me heal.

Woman standing on top of mountain peak, arms raised in victory

Now, at the age of 37, I am married, living a happy fulfilling life without the use of pharmaceutical medications. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a long journey with many setbacks. It is still a daily struggle to choose happiness over other, easier feelings. However, my battle has been made easier by utilizing the resiliency tools I learned in CBT and surrounding myself with those who understand and support me. 

I also love that I have cannabis, a patient-empowered medication, at my disposal to meet my mental health needs, instead of one-size-fits-all medications like Zoloft, Xanax or Prozac. I get to immerse myself in plant medicine and cater it to my needs rather than the needs of someone else, like the pharmaceutical industry or therapist. My current interests lie in terpene content and finding which essential oils from the cannabis plant that work best based on the desired effects. What other medicine gives the consumer that freedom?


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