Hey Antuanette, how’s your day?
My day has been really really good, it’s been super sunny, I meditated and did a study class. I still have a few more meetings.
Lovely. I found your work just through digging through women who were working at the intersections of cannabis and sexual healing and stumbled upon Pleasure Peaks. It’s such an amazing initiative, how did you arrive there?
I was a holistic nutritionist back in 2015 working at a chronic pain clinic. I was so fascinated by being a holistic nutritionist because I learned that there were so many different forms of alternative healing and using foods to heal different ailments, naturally. When I saw cannabis it just made sense that it is one of the biggest super foods on this planet. Natural alternatives are very fascinating to me so it wasn’t till later that I got involved with tantra and learned sacred sexuality. When I was learning tantra there were a lot of ancient sages that used cannabis in tantric practices for sexual healing. I thought that was very fascinating because I was also a ganja yoga teacher at the time and I loved using cannabis consciously in meditation practices.
When I was working at the chronic pain clinic, I was shocked that there were so many people that had so many different barriers to fulfilling sex lives. As a person who never thought such a thing, I just had so much compassion for them. I heard stories like, I havent had sex in five years, me and my husband havent had sex since we got married. And all these things are very common in a chronic pain clinic. That’s how I really learned how cannabis can give people quality of life. When it came to sexual health, I always found that these people were dealing with other things as well. People don’t prioritize their sexual health because they don’t think it’s that important, but everything is interconnected. When I find that people aren’t having a healthy sex life, they’re not having a healthy life, period. And so many of my patients at the clinic were saying that cannabis helps them with their endometriosis, that cannabis helps them with their fibroids, that cannabis helps them with their polycystic syndrome, that cannabis helps them with their insomnia, pain through sexual intercourse, the list goes on and on. I just thought it was worth doing the research on.
It wasn’t until I came across Katy who has endometriosis and was in her early twenties being told that she would never bear children, that’s when I really learned what endometriosis is. And it affects 1 in 10 women. If you think of that statistic, 1 out of 10 people on this planet know what cancer is, that’s a huge population but nobody knows what endometriosis is. I thought it was shocking, and wanted to raise awareness because no one should be suffering in silence. It’s such a taboo topic to talk about, there’s too much guilt or shame. There were so many different types of barriers that had to be broken down. Obviously it doesn’t work for everyone and that’s the most fascinating part, because we have to do our own research, which is why we have our own Pleasure Labs. I just find sex so fascinating, which is why I’ve been doing it for the past 8 years.
I like to think about how we return to the plant, consciously. I was using it for years as a teenager and young adult, not consciously but living with vaginismus. Only after I began using it consciously did I find all these sexual health benefits. I also had to work through a lot of shame around using the plant.
Do you see that with women who are sexual assault survivors who are already carrying this burden of shame and then coming to the plant, there might be a little shame there as well?
Shame and trauma are so complex. Something as small as what somebody has told you, don’t touch yourself there you are dirty, when you’re between the ages of 5 – 11, is enough to traumatize you for your whole life. This is why those developmental ages are so important, around those ages and at adolescence we’re learning about sexual health and drugs. And it’s mostly, don’t do drugs, it’s bad for you, and abstinence is the best form of birth control. Now we can have an educated conversation around it. What I love about being a teacher and educator is knowing that we all come from different walks of life so it’s important for us as a brand and a company to educate people on all of the different ways they can heal. One does not fit all, especially with sexuality and cannabis.
We now know that all humans have an endocannabinoid system, just as we have a central nervous system and digestive system. We have a system specifically for processing and using cannabinoids, aka, using weed. We have these systems in place, so we have a lot more connection to the plant than we think. On top of that, our endocannabinoid systems are as unique as your fingerprint. Your endocannabinoid looks nothing like mine. So it doesn’t matter if we all use the same product, cos we’re not going to find the same benefit.
I hate to compare it to alcohol but it does make sense. You have different experiences when you’re on tequila as you do gin, on vodka as you do rum. I find that when I drink vodka I turn into a complete 18 year old mess, and when I drink rum, I will cry and make sure you are the fault of all of my problems. I have these different personalities, emotions and experiences that it brings out of me based on my biology and makeup. Different cannabinoid profiles will do the exact same thing, so it’s important to learn about cannabis as we have with alcohol as adult users. It is very much personalized so that’s a very good opportunity to keep strain journals.
I find that we can be a little bit more responsible with conscious cannabis responses. With that being said, I want to take it a step further. Even if it is the same product, we need to bring out a range of variants. Some people want to be in the sexual health space and bring out a lube. Not everybody wants that, not every sexual experience needs that. It means that you’re not speaking to the proper demographic. You’re just selling a product. Sexual health is mental as much as it is physical. So using tinctures are great for that, for a cerebral effect. But for some people, it’s pain. A large portion of survivors suffer from pain, so using a lubricant may not be for those people. And when it comes to the high stress lawyer or maybe anxiety ridden creative who has a really hard time connecting with their body, bath salts can be incredibly effective for moving energy around the body and becoming more open. That’s why we have various products. We even have massages, because a lot of people need touch.
Cannabis has been such an amazing opportunity to rip open the sex industry to what it could be.
What is it like being a woman of color in the Canadian cannabis industry?
It’s really exciting to be part of an industry that has so much potential and to be in these decision making positions that are really crucial in how this industry will move forward. There’s great power and with great power comes great responsibility. I’m always fighting for what’s right in this industry. Having access to patients, having great quality products, having products with integrity, uplifting minorities and helping social equity grow in this industry. Demanding justice for all of the injustice that has happened before us. To be a woman of color in this space, you already know our communities have been impacted by the War on Drugs and systemic racism and oppression. So to know that you’re an inspiration to others, you have to be here for the right reasons.
It’s very difficult and overwhelming but it’s also an incredible opportunity to have this experience to finally change the narrative. It wasn’t always this way. People of color have always been attached to drugs in a negative way. To see people of color part of a legal regime is empowering to minority communities.
I am now the Director of Canada for M4MM. Creating chapters across the country to address education, funding, training and social equity in Canada. Today the legal Canadian cannabis industry makes up of 1% Black, 1% indigenous, and 1% Latino. We have a “grass-ceiling here in Canada that’s often not talked about. Our first partnership is with Vivian Wilson, from Green Port the first black women to own a dispensary. And Superette, foundered by Mimi Lam. Together we’re creating sponsorships and education for retail in Canada and addressing the need for black Asian allyship in today’s climate.
In my Green Rush Program, I launched 12 black businesses last year. It’s a cannabis incubator that provides resources and support on how to build a compliant legal cannabis business globally. With access to mentors and licensee holders internationally.
I also founded the Cannabis Built By Blacks Expo.
What are your hopes for the future of social equity?
To be impactful in not only the business economy but also creating an education for people of color and equal services and wrap around services for communities that have been impacted. It’s not enough to say that this amount of licenses will be granted. There have been generations of families that have been ripped apart because of the Wars of Drugs. Let’s talk about what went wrong to get it right. Let’s understand the history, to fully look at what has been done so we don’t have to make the same choices in terms of strategic and racist oppression.
Antuanette Gomez is the Founder and CEO of Pleasure Peaks, the leading Canadian cannabis brand for improving women’s sexual health. Antuanette is also a full time cannabis consultant and a proud public speaker on cannabis and its cross-section with sexual, women and minority issues. Antuanette has been involved in and engaged with the Canadian cannabis community for over 8 years. She is endlessly passionate about inspiring women in entrepreneurship and helping them to navigate the cannabis industry. Antuanette actively engages in grassroots business planning with women inspired to work in cannabis, helping them to develop their business plans, find investors, and understand compliance in Canada.