Chronic Sad Girls Club is a safe space where women, and in particular women of color, can come together to discuss cannabis and mental health.
It’s also a way for founder Laura Armenta to support her own journey through life.
The “club” is open to anyone who needs a place to talk to people who have similar experiences, offering regular meetings with themes like, “medicate with intention,” and an online boutique and blog.
Themes dovetail with Armenta's work as a medical marijuana consultant, in which she advises those who wish to alleviate specific symptoms, as well as people who want to incorporate cannabis into their self-care rituals. She routinely hosts educational sessions for medical-marijuana cardholders about topics like edibles and how to roll the perfect joint.
She also hopes to supplement her income with the club’s online boutique, which carries essentials like herb grinders and fun items, like a “bad cat” ashtray featuring an adorable kitten dropping an F-bomb.
Armenta, who goes by her maiden name on the club’s website, Laura Ozuna, said she founded club last year when she grew tired of hiding the fact that she consumed cannabis as a way to improve her mental and physical health.
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She’s been diagnosed with four types of mental illnesses and nine autoimmune diseases, she said. At the height of her sickness, she was ingesting 15 pills a day and watching her body break down as a consequence.
"It took me years to figure out what to take, what to medicate with, and when to do it in order to drop certain medications," Armenta said. She realized that it no longer made sense to watch others, "especially people of color who don't have those resources," endure the same pain.
At a recent event at Totem Yoga, 3201 North 16th Street in Phoenix, one of the places where the club meets, Armenta expressed gratitude to some of the members.
"A year ago, when I started my platform, it was through loneliness and fear,” she told the group. “I decided I had to make myself vulnerable if I wanted to share what I learned with everyone."
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It was her late grandmother, Nana Amalia, who both figuratively and literally planted the seed Armenta is now harvesting. In a small town in Sonora, Mexico, her abuela used the cannabis plants she grew to make tinctures and oils. Armenta lived there with her family until she was 5, when they immigrated to the United States, leaving her beloved nana behind.
Following her diagnoses, one of her doctors told Armenta that she was a great candidate for medical marijuana. She became a patient and began self-medicating with cannabis while learning everything she could about its healing qualities. In a year's time, she was down to just three prescriptions.
Armenta remembers her grandmother's wisdom and hopes to pass on what she has learned without the associated stigma that envelops cannabis use in communities of color. CSGC’s blog covers topics ranging from the best-sedating strains before medical procedures to how to speak with a partner about an illness.
“People often ask me how I deal with unsupportive family members, and the truth is, it’s not easy,” she wrote on the blog earlier this year. “When we get negative responses from unsupportive loved ones, we often try to educate them on the spot, time and time again. We try our hardest to help them understand our choice to medicate naturally.”