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BrainForest Founder Christine Erdman Speaks On How CBD And THC Saved Her From Depression And Anxiety

February 15, 2024

Read the full interview on Honeysucklemag.com!

While there are new brands popping up left and right daily within the cannabis industry, it’s important we recognize the ones that are created with love, authenticity, and genuine care for the consumer.

What Is BrainForest? A Female-Owned Subscription Box And Cannabis Education Brand

Insert BrainForest, who have made it their mission to give you the best, most elevated experience possible. Each subscription box is uniquely curated specifically to heighten your smoking sesh, a fun way to indulge in the wonders of cannabis beyond just consuming the flower directly. The brand is particularly notable for several collaboration boxes done with cannabis influencers and advocates, including Kimmy Tan, Chrissy Harless, and Jennifer McAllister.

The beauty lies in the fact that the company is female-owned. Founder Christine Erdman discovered cannabis as her saving grace when it came to her long battles with depression and anxiety. After realizing the power in both CBD and THC, she made it her mission to provide the best products possible to help others all around the world who too may suffer from mental health disorders.

BrainForest’s latest PotLuck Subscription Box, released on February 10th (C) BrainForest

BrainForest Founder Christine Erdman On Healing With Cannabis, Creating A Brand, And Making Outstanding Edibles

Honeysuckle spoke with Christine Erdman to discuss her journey from consumer to entrepreneur, as well as what BrainForest is all about.

SHIRLEY JU: What is BrainForest and what are you guys all about?

CHRISTINE ERDMAN: BrainForest = Happy. Good. BrainForest is an online smoke shop. We believe in giving our clients the best elevated experience we can, while curating a unique, fun, and personalized feel with every order. As a brand and company, we focus on sharing cannabis knowledge with everyone. We strive to educate our audience about more than just the products we sell. We’ve worked hard to become a place of knowledge for people who want to grow their own medicine, bake their own edibles, and understand more about the marijuana they’re consuming in all of its forms.

Lastly, we want our products to be affordable for everyone. I was a poor child growing up, so affordability within the cannabis industry is an extremely important value to me. No one should be excluded. BrainForest offers an array of products, including brand-specific pieces such as our BrainForest Water Pipe, which is a piece that is near and dear to my heart. We offer grow bags and grow tents, as well as several very cool box options such as our brand-new PotLuck 420 Subscription Box series, a jam-packed Stoner Mystery Box, and an Ultimate Autogrinder Set, among others.

Even more than loving our products, we want people to know we are here for them – whatever their experience level. I know from experience that the research can be daunting, so we are here to empower people and to give them the access they need to understand and feel confident about their choices. We offer free soil recipes and video tutorials to help you grow your own cannabis, photo tutorials from germination to harvest to drying, an edibles’ potency calculator, a page explaining concentrates, and even a community recipe hub connected to our PotLuck Series. I have coaching and leadership in my background and my partner Ann has teaching in hers. Our life experiences make us truly passionate about sharing our knowledge with others. We have made BrainForest a site people can come to and know they’ll be cared for.

The BrainForest Water Pipe, included in the PotLuck Subscription Box (C) BrainForest

What has cannabis has done for you, and what happened the first time you tried it?

Personally, cannabis helped me know what happiness can be. I was very much on the “straight and narrow” for the first 40 years of life. I was carrying the burdens of a relentless depression and the wounds of a traumatic childhood. I was stuck in fight-or-flight mode that medication couldn’t touch. During one of my worst depressive episodes, my brain actually shut down to the point I could not remember how to unload a dishwasher. It was unreal. My entire life, I had been a powerhouse, but my depression shattered me. I was unrecognizable. I tried every medication there was looking for relief, but I was still broken.

At the peak of my depression, my brain would not shut off its negative spinning. I was so physically ill from the medications I was on, I felt like I wasn’t going to make it. I felt so alone, sad, and scared. I hadn’t slept in days or even weeks, I was in a dangerous place, and I was desperate for something to help. I was never a drinker or smoker and had heard countless times that cannabis was a “gateway drug.” However, I took the leap and tried cannabis for myself because it felt like I was running out of options.

As someone completely new to cannabis, the first time I tried it, I had to sit with it for a while. I didn’t feel any sort of “high.” As I sat with it longer though, my thoughts led me to realize I’m doing the best I can, that my mom did the best that she could, and I have the power to change how I feel about my thoughts. Cannabis did that for me! I was able to sit with my feelings and dissect the truth from the lies. There wasn’t any other medication I tried that helped me process my thoughts and emotions instead of burying them. This is what I needed to improve my life. I will always be grateful for cannabis and what it did for me then and continues to do for me now.

How important is mental health and how does that factor into your product?

Mental health is everything to me. My mom was bipolar, schizophrenic, and never on medication while I was growing up. It was dangerous and terrifying. While I know her illness was not her fault, my childhood experiences are at the core of who I am. I battle the trauma from my childhood everyday, but that doesn’t mean I can’t or don’t deserve to be happy.

Society has come a long way in recognizing the importance of mental health, but there are way too many people [who] suffer in silence, like I did. I believe this needs to change. We need to allow people to try cannabis for mental health, whether that be for processing thoughts or lowering anxiety without judgment or stigma. On a physical level, I have allergies and lung issues, so I want each customer’s smoke experience to be as healthy as it can be.

We work hard to focus on products that help with the filtration to your lungs. We want each hit to be as smooth and pure as possible. For instance, our signature water bong is awesome, but it’s even better when you add ice. Similarly, edibles are an incredible option. I love to make my own and have found they really help my anxiety. A major component of our PotLuck Subscription Series focuses on a special recipe with each box so that people can make their own edibles at home. We also include decarb and butter recipes to help anyone just beginning their edible-making journey. We want to make the process of edibles approachable and as easy as possible. It can be intimidating when you don’t know what you don’t know.

We also love and believe in the idea of community. We hope to encourage friends and families with our PotLuck boxes to sesh together over an awesome recipe or three. We’re currently working to build a PotLuck community online with a recipe hub for anyone to enjoy. As a company, we try to push forward with love, acceptance, and support. We are here to help our customers on their journeys to happiness and we are beyond proud to be part of each person’s life in some way. We believe in the healing power of cannabis – both from personal experience as well as from seeing so many other lives being positively affected by it.

Along with recreational users who want a safer experience than alcohol provides, we have customers returning to us who share their stories of chronic pain issues, autoimmune diseases, and Tourette’s. There are so many challenges we face as human beings. It’s exciting to think of the possible benefits cannabis might provide individuals. With legalization comes research, and we’re eager to see where the coming years will take us as a society.

Would you recommend cannabis for depression? Why or why not?

I truly believe that cannabis needs to be at the forefront when talking about both depression and anxiety. Personally, both of these mental health illnesses lie to me. They tell me things inside my brain that are just not true. Cannabis allows me to see past [that] and adjust my ego. It helps my brain to mediate between my conscious and subconscious mind. When I’m depressed or when I struggle with anxiety, being able to adjust and sit with my ego is the best therapy I have.

Cannabis allows me to see people’s intentions and not just their actions, which is also very powerful in recovering from depression. I hope for federal legalization so that cannabis can be studied for its benefits. I spent my life trying to understand my mind, and cannabis opened it. Unfortunately, it took me 40 years to get here. I hope my story will help others as they navigate their own mental health journeys. In the meantime, we wait for the correct classification of this beautiful plant and the confirmation many of us already know that it can be used in a million different beneficial ways.

What does it mean to be a female entrepreneur in the cannabis space?

Personally, I have fallen happily into a space of marching to the tune of my own drummer, which is important to my overall well-being. I’m a curious person and love to dig into every element of cannabis. I believe this curiosity fuels my vision for the company, as well as my passion for helping and serving our customers to the best of my ability. I am aware that some people still look at me differently and that’s just fine.

The first time I walked into a smoke shop, I was met with an eye roll and a “Who is this chick?,” but my passion is unstoppable and contagious, and it evolved into collaboration! As women in the cannabis industry – in any industry – we’re told we’re set apart by our differences. But the world is changing. Women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community are taking up more and more space. We’re not necessarily taking away from male-identifying spaces, but showing up alongside and within it. Our voices and perspectives are growing louder and more confident, and commercially, they are – and should be – harder and harder to ignore. With our buying (and selling!) power comes the opportunity to create real change in ways that were historically unrecognized.

We believe in our BrainForest products, and at our core, we believe our products can help people live happier lives. We believe in access and affordability for all, whether that be our product line or our many cannabis-related grow- and edible-resources.

What’s the secret to making the best edibles?

Simply put, confidence. Seriously, all you need to do is try it once and you will wonder why you thought it was daunting to begin with. First, make sure you decarb your butter correctly in the oven. Decarbing is a simple process of breaking up your flower and cooking it at a low temperature to activate the THC. Cannabis naturally has THCA, but in order to get the psychoactive properties for edibles, the heat is required to activate it.

As I said before, as a company we want to empower people to make their own edibles. Each of our PotLuck subscription boxes has a recipe card for making your own cannabutter or tincture, as well as a new recipe you can choose to elevate with the cannabutter or tincture. If someone loses a recipe, they can visit us at www.brainforest420.com. We have all the information right there for you.

What else can we expect from BrainForest?

I enjoy the challenge of mastering anything I am passionate about. As the industry grows and changes, you can be sure we’ll be at the forefront. We are a company run by two passionate women. There is no stopping us as we freely share what we know about cannabis in its many forms. As new technology and products emerge, it will be exciting to see everyone’s knowledge of this plant develop and grow, while also making improvements to safeguard our health and well-being.

Looking ahead, our biggest goal (and what we’re most excited about) is shifting our quarterly PotLuck 420Subscription Series into a month-to-month schedule. Even in its earliest stages, Ann and I have loved working together to create fun themes and collections that feel extra-special and cool for our clients. We’re looking forward to amplifying that creativity on a larger scale and planning monthly bundles our patrons can look forward to with anticipation. Our catalog is always growing and our new inventions will typically hit our PotLuck boxes first. In fact, we have a brand-new product in our March 1st box I’m really excited to unveil!

As the stigmas surrounding cannabis diminish, we want to help raise awareness about the positive, beneficial, and fun aspects of marijuana. To do this, we’ll soon be adding cannabis-friendly, enthusiasts’ apparel and gear. We both have a great sense of humor, so that will definitely be part of the line as well. We look forward to continuing to connect with and to expand our client base. Every person we’ve met so far has been an incredible force with a beautiful story. Our time and connections with people are what we value most. We’re excited to see who we’ll meet next and what we might do together!

For more about BrainForest, visit brainforest420.com.

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