Co-Founder, Ayurvanna Inc.
Dori Edwards is one of the feminist pioneers and entrepreneurs of the cannabis industry in Michigan. You’d never know it to look at her. Her eyes glisten and her smile is both mysterious and prophetic. You would peg her first as a sales representative for a line of feminine products and, indeed, she is, being a leading executive director with skin care giant Nerium International.
But in the annals of Michigan cannabis history she became the first woman to own a dispensary when in 2010 she opened Tree City Health Collective, the first of three dispensaries that she built, owned, and operated in Ann Arbor. Dori had an immediate passion for the business that was reflected in her warmth and professionalism as well as in the design and style of her stores, the quality of her organically grown cannabis, and the effort she devoted to the well-being of her team. Tree City Health Collective was voted the #1 dispensary in the state and Dori became known affectionately by her peers and patients as Gangamama.
“I see myself as a choreographer, she says. “I see the big picture from a long way out. I hire people with more talent than I have and then honor their talent by giving them the power to use it to benefit the team. As a leader, I believe you rise by lifting up others around you and letting them raise you rather than by stepping over them.”
A visionary as well as an entrepreneur, Dori has an active mind that conceptualizes what is needed next to help build the cannabis community and then she finds others to help her create it. In 2010 she co-founded the Ann Arbor Medical Cannabis Guild—she is currently its president— “because it was important to band together to keep each other safe and create the standards of the industry. We have more political impact when we are cooperative instead of competitive.”
In 2015, she became the co-founder and co-chair of the Southeast Michigan chapter of Women Grow as well as one of the national organization’s first 50 sponsors. “Aligning with Women Grow connected me to a network of power and possibility that gave me a voice and made me feel like I could fly. Through this national collective vision, we are creating a wave of change.”
She is a co-founder of Ayurvanna, an umbrella organization for creating standards for cultivating holistic cannabis and cannabusinesses. “We are linking high-quality, holistic mom-and-pop companies to socially responsible investors. In addition, we educate patients about the dangers of herbicides and pesticides and about why organic cannabis is the safe alternative.”
She currently markets to dispensaries within the state an anti-inflammatory, analgesic topical cannabis salve that she invented called Dori Balm.
Dori believes that humans should embrace the holistic principles of mind-body-spirit in every aspect of their lives. She brings those principles to Ann Arbor’s Bloom City Club, the first and only female-owned and –operated dispensary in Michigan, where she is a partner.
“Every person and every organization has a mind, body, and spirit,” she says. “The body requires certain foods, spices, herbs, and essential oils. The mind needs to study but also to meditate. No amount of money is worth so much tension and drama that you can’t grow holistically as a person or as an organization. When there is group tension, team members either turn on each other or pull together, share feelings, and exhibit trust. We encourage personal development, meditation, healthy, nonviolent communication, and using our creative minds to reach goals instead of wasting energy thinking badly of each other.”
A firm believer in the health benefits of cannabis, she becomes especially infuriated when she thinks about people ceding the right to care for their own bodies to doctors and law makers. For that reason, among many others, she is at the forefront of the grassroots movement by MiLegalize to legalize cannabis in Michigan.