On a bright, beautiful Saturday afternoon, we arrived at Cannabliss Retreat, a six-day experiential cannabis vacation held at a private estate in Malibu. It was day five of the retreat and guests were coming off the energy of the 420 party held the day prior. A group of attendees was in the middle of a cultivation lesson titled “The More You Know, The More You Grow.”
“Growers, now, you’re not done. You now have something to take care of,” said Brian Chaplin of Medicine Box, a cannabis company that produces Tinctures, medicine bars, and chocolate truffles.
He was referring to the cannabis clones in front of each of the guests. He continued to explain the light cycles a clone needs in order to keep it the plant from vegetating.
“Enough light to read a newspaper is all you need,” added Cameron Hattan of Fiddler’s Greens, a company that produces Tinctures, Balms, Flower, and Prerolls.
The guests were equally interested and distracted.
“Do you want my plant? I’m not going to take it back home with me,” we overheard one woman say to another in the middle of the lesson.
“If I give it to you, will you send me some bud?” They struck a friendly deal immediately.
It wasn’t an exclusive deal, as Las Vegas MMA fighter and Iraq war veteran Kaine “Kong” Marzola offered us his clone as well. In return, he asked us to name it “Kaine Kong,” after him.
Through this interaction the tone of the event was reinforced: people from all over the world meeting in a beautiful location to, as one guest put it, “hang out, talk about and smoke weed.”
Cannabliss Retreats’ aim is to provide a positive cannabis wellness and travel experience for visitors to California. The majority of the guests had arrived from elsewhere.
A young woman from Boston mingled with a couple from Spain, while a woman from Iowa passed a joint to a man from New Jersey and said, “I haven’t had Thai Sticks since the ’70s.” A couple from Austin, Texas, were excitedly waiting for their scheduled massage while a couple from Canada passed a pipe.
Guests would break off in small groups and wander to Grassfed L.A.’s vape bar to try Vapexhale vaporizers. For most of the attendees, consuming cannabis through vaporizers, edibles, and elixirs was a first-time experience.
“Wow. I’m high,” sighed one woman to herself. She then turned to us, smiled, and said “It’s a good place to be.”
Throughout the event, we witnessed people sharing and helping one another. A woman who hadn’t consumed cannabis in more than a decade was offered a cookie infused with 2.5 mg of THC by another woman who instructed her how to take it.
“Try a bite and wait for its effects,” she told the curious taster, and offered support throughout the experience. “I will be here for you on your journey,” she assured.
Matthew Nelson, an Iraq war veteran and author of “Enjoy The Harvest,” was volunteering at the retreat. Nelson said he felt the Cannabliss Retreat allowed guests to have an “authentic connection with cannabis,” something most consumers don’t take the time to have. Even as a cultivator and cannabis author, Nelson found himself connecting with cannabis in a way he hadn’t in his profession. He attributed that the to open, genial environment of Cannabliss Retreats.
“The vibe is really chill. People are open and really health conscious about the plant,” he said.
“It’s curating a conscious community through cannabis,” echoed Sari Gabbay, founder of Cannabliss Retreats, about her vision for the project.
“Cannabis is one aspect of all the medicines that we’re bringing. She’s a huge part of it, but it’s not just about cannabis. It’s about all the things we do with her and how she makes us feel in those moments,” she said of the connection she wanted her guests to experience. “If I’m gonna make a flower crown, well, how do I feel? I’m working with nature, well, nature is inside of me.”
Gabbay was pleased when we informed her how the guests were enjoying their connection with cannabis.
“I love the perspectives of the guests — that’s what I want,” she said of the experience she was hoping to curate before musing with a laugh. “The funny thing is, everything Cannabliss offers is what I like to do.”
The workshops that followed were a direct reflection of Gabbay’s interests. A “Floral Fashion Class” with Leslie Monroy of Flowers on Flowers had guests creating flower crowns that were equal parts simple to make, eye-catching to wear, and therapeutic to experience.
Kyra Mueller-Yamamoto’s “Baking with Adaptogens” included a lesson in making — and tasting — “Cannabliss Balls,” deceptively decadent bites made with cashews, maca, cacao, and hemp seeds, all infused with 5 mg of THC.
The day’s final workshop occurred just as the sun was beginning to set, turning the sky pink and blue. It was “The Spirit of Cannabis and Sound Bath” with Toby Karlin and Kyle Hollingsworth of Myuna Music. Guests encouraged one another to visit the vape bar and try Khaleesi’s Dragons, the only Indica on the menu, before lying down to receive a soundscape of pure quartz crystal bowls, crystal chimes, ocean drums, acoustic guitars, and a gong. The vibrations of the instruments guided the guests into relaxation as the sun set behind the palm trees and lowered into the California coast.
Additional reporting by Allena Braithwaite.