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Howard County-based medical marijuana product geared toward women slated to go nationwide

Would you like to buy some Obama Kush to help you sleep? Or how about some Grape Ape to alleviate your pelvic pain?

If you are unattuned to cannabis culture, you likely have no idea what those things are, but the more than 51,000 Maryland residents certified to purchase medical marijuana likely would recognize them immediately as strains of marijuana.

Since 2017, at least 70 dispensaries have popped up around the state, six that are in Howard County.

The options at the dispensaries can seem endless: topicals, oils, pills, vapors, accessories, extracts and edibles, to name a few.

Research in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown marijuana can help treat chronic pain, purporting the ability to replace opioids amid a national health crisis. The plant can also treat anxiety, sleep deprivation, glaucoma and the effects of chemotherapy.

The bulk of the promotion of these products largely target men, said Leslie Apgar, a retired obstetrician-gynecologist who is now the medical director of Greenhouse Wellness dispensary in Ellicott City.

When Apgar and her neighbor, entrepreneur and retired engineer Gina Dubbé, decided to venture into cannabis, they knew they wanted to have a “female-focused” company that made products for women. Their enterprise launched in December 2017 and, last May, they formalized it into Blissiva.

On Saturday, Apgar and Dubbé will re-debut the Balance Pen, a vaping product geared specifically toward women, at Greenhouse Wellness.

The vape is wrapped in purple silicon and is odorless.

And it’s smooth, Apgar said, “like a glass of wine.”

Blissiva’s first product was first made available in October at Greenhouse Wellness and sold out in 12 weeks. Apgar declined to provide specifics on future products they plan to roll out, but said they will help with chronic pelvic pain, decreased sex libido and vaginal dryness.

Now iAnthus Capital Holdings, an integrated cannabis company based in Toronto and New York, wants to manufacture, market and sell Blissiva’s current and future products. The move would expand the operation to 10 states, including California, Nevada and Arizona.

The journey to success has been an uphill battle, Apgar and Dubbé said.

Their company was denied access to funding from at least four Maryland banks, according to Dubbé. She declined to disclose the name of the company’s current bank or how much it has made in revenue so far.

Last year, the medical marijuana industry in Maryland made more than $96 million in sales, according to a report from the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

Apgar and Dubbé described their business as rewarding.

Glen Burnie resident Dawn Morgan agrees. She has used the Balance Pen to treat the side effects of multiple sclerosis for at least three years. .

Its compact size, color and flavors (vanilla and cucumber) make it appealing to Morgan, who has long used cannabis to treat insomnia and pain.

Morgan, 43, said the product “looks like a little lipstick thing that can go in my purse.”

“I’m not someone who’s going to be smoking all day,” she said. “I just want to take a little puff and once it’s done, it’s done.”

Morgan described the Balance Pen as “very classy and not like you’re smoking with the guys.”

The product will be available in 45 dispensaries throughout the state including ones in Baltimore, Bethesda, White Marsh and Ellicott City.

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