Why I Opened a Cannabis Store: An Interview with Andrea Dobbs
by Amber Gibson
Long-term East Van resident, Andrea Dobbs, is the co-owner of Vancouver dispensary, Village Bloomery – known as The Village Dispensary until recently, in the Kitsilano neighbourhood in Vancouver. Since opening her doors in 2015 – the same year Canadian adults were reported one of the highest users of Cannabis in the world – Andrea has been cultivating a community of members supporting the push for greener pastures. One specialty this herbal hub offers, is a boutique range of medical cannabis products, assisting adults who are looking for a natural alternative to pharmaceutical pain relief.
“The impetus started in 2014 around the time I began my own exploration with cannabis, seeing its value in my personal treatment of perimenopausal symptoms” she explains.
Not a consumer at the time, but open to the use of plant-based medicine, Andrea discovered research acknowledging the relationship between THC and menopausal hormone regulation. She decided to “give it a shot”, and experienced the potency of the plant, alongside its effective treatment of pain.
Curiosity led her to explore Vancouver’s dispensaries, in search of a specific product targeting her ailments. After having to discuss her battles of “weight gain, itchy skin, no libido, sore breasts and hypersensitivity” to a group of young males at a local dispensary, it was clear “there was a gap in the market for women.”
“I didn’t see anyone in the shop who looked like me or who I felt could relate to the stuff I wanted to talk about” she recounts. Her first trial was a lovely little chocolate prescribed for PMS which was far too intense for what she needed but served as a first-hand confirmation of the positive effect of cannabis on pain. “By the tail end of the experience, I noticed I didn’t have the usual aches and pains.”
Andrea’s discovery planted seeds, identifying a proactive step for her own health and wellness and a budding entrepreneurial vision. After her chocolate experience, Andrea learnt about microdosing; consistent doses of tinctures; CBD and THC cannabis-infused topicals treatments. “I started having more control over my experience with great results.”
“Cannabis played a solid role in improving my sleep, stopping my skin from itching and creating a sense of calm and clarity, a sense of creativity and joy. I knew there was an opportunity to bring medical cannabis to people in a more accessible way.”
“It’s green, it’s political, there’s a lot of aspects that made us interested in it,” says Andrea, referring to a discussion with partner Jeremy, before opening Village Bloomery.
Since then, Andrea has not only assisted woman battling similar premenopausal symptoms but seniors suffering from debilitating pain.
“I make it clear to my clients that medical cannabis is useful when adopted as part of a holistic approach.” Her own recovery involved radical lifestyle changes; eliminating coffee, reducing her sugar intake, adopting adrenal supports and acupuncture therapy. “Cannabis complemented these lifestyle changes. We advise our members to cut stimulants out first and reassess after a month.”
Andrea advises newcomers to “take your time and go slow. Don’t eat a whole chocolate,” she says laughing. “Educate yourself and feel empowered by your own choices. Ask for help to navigate these choices when they aren’t clear. Like other supplements that you put in your body, too much of anything can be detrimental” she adds.
The success of Village Bloomery is noted by it’s growing community of content clients, being recognized as a place to find quality products from certified suppliers. “I’d like to lead by example and invite people to find a treatment where they feel their best.” Andrea hopes to open more shops, like Village Bloomery, throughout the country and internationally.
“I would love to see BC as a province striving and become internationally recognized for its innovative approach to cannabis. I’d like to see local producers integrated into the space because BC’s history has earned its title as the best bud.”