Women & Weed: Why Representation Matters
The first time I smoked weed was probably in the 8th grade. After persistent begging, my older sister and her friend caved in and gave me my first few puffs. High School is when I became a regular toker, and I became used to being one of the very few chicks in the circle. Sure, I knew a handful of other girls who smoked, but we all ran in different crowds mostly smoked with groups of guys.
It wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I finally met more women like me: women who loved weed and used it for more than just the obvious recreational and psychoactive benefits. But again it was just a small group of us who met regularly to partake in the sacrament. It was nice not having to smoke alone or strictly with dudes. I don’t speak to those ladies anymore, but we had some good times and it was nice to have that bond.
Weed has always had a negative social stigma, and people who smoked or associated with smokers were always perceived as lazy burnouts. Women are always judged more harshly than men, so it’s not surprising that many women choose not to partake, or hide it if they do. But times, they are a’changing. With weed turning mainstream, stigmas are slowly fading and women are finding cannabis and making big moves within the industry.
Eaze recently held a survey, and 59% of the women who participated identified as daily cannabis consumers. Women are the fastest growing consumer segment in the cannabis market. We are more likely to try new products like tinctures and topicals, but the flower is still the favorite. 34% of women reported they mostly consume by smoking joints. Instead of medicating with alcohol, opioids, or antidepressants, more women are using cannabis as a safer method of self-care. With this influx of women, companies like AnnaBis and Foria are rapidly creating products that appeal more to to the female market. From fashion to lifestyle products and infused options, companies are rethinking the way they market to women.
That’s just the good news on the consumer side; women are also moving up within the industry. A 2015 study from Marijuana Business Daily states that 36% of women in the cannabis industry hold executive level positions. The study also states that 63% of high level positions at testing labs are held by women, and almost 50% of such roles at infused products and processing facilities. Women also hold 38% of the executive roles on the retail side, filling those positions in dispensaries and recreational stores while also being better represented in positional leadership roles on the technology and marketing side.
There are so many women all over the industry and on the consumer side doing big things, it’s a beautiful thing to witness. We out here!
Oregon in particular has a strong female presence in the industry thanks to these 10 awesome women and many more like them. Thanks to outlets like Tokeativity, Prism House, and Women Grow, Women.Weed.Wifi., females have a place to network, bond and learn. Trista Okel is the creator of Empower BodyCare, a company that provides cannabis infused topicals, soaking salts, and 4Play sensual oil (my review). Her products come in two types, black label (infused with cannabis) and white label (CBD only). Morgan Hutchinson is co-owner of the Vancouver shop High End Market Place and is also involved with Lifted Events, a service that hosts private cannabis related events. She’s also very active in the community, like many of her female counterparts.
Dee Dussault and Heidi Keyes have carved their own place into the industry by creating places for people to enjoy cannabis and activities like yoga, painting, and even pottery. I also can’t neglect to mention Smokies Toke Couture, a cannabis lifestyle brand that creates high quality accessories in the Bay Area.
There are even more women doing big things on social media and the web. Coral Reefer is a YouTuber who hosts a live show called Stoney Sundays, and runs News Nug. Coral has a huge fan base with 118,584 YT subscribers and a whopping 181K followers on Instagram. Stoney Xochi is a blogger and photographer who provides reviews and cannabis event coverage. She has 17.8K followers on Instagram and is growing daily. SheSmokesJoints, a photographer, content creator and consultant who who has a following of 312K followers on Instagram, provides beautiful pictures of joints, weed, and often features work from her partner TonyGreenHand, a famously talented joint roller.
Despite this tremendous growth, women still have a long way to go-and that’s why it’s so important to see us represented within the culture. Not just on the consumer and employment side, but throughout the culture as a whole.
Take a moment and think of all the stoner comedies you’ve seen in your life. Now tell me how many of those movies star women? Workaholics? Men. Half Baked? Men. Pineapple Express? Men. Cheech & Chong? Men. Where do we come in? We’re the fastest growing consumer segment. We’re the women breaking the glass ceiling within the cannabis industry. Where are we?
Thankfully, it seems as though that also may be changing. It started with the show Weeds, a Showtime series about a single mom who decides to start selling weed to support her family. Weeds is based on real life Canna-Queen Dr. Dina. Dr. Dina was the first woman to open a medical dispensary on the Sunset Strip, and has quickly become known as the cannabis consultant to the stars. However, after Weeds, there was a pronounced shortage of strong female characters involved with cannabis on screen.
That all changed in 2014 thanks to Comedy Central and a little show called Broad City. The show stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, two 20-somethings in New York trying to navigate their lives in the big city. Broad City is often compared to its male counterpart, Workaholics, because they’re young, get into zany and sometimes uncomfortable situations, but they also smoke WEED. But where Workaholics is about the crazy shit those dudes get into, Broad City provides more depth to their characters. Yes it’s a comedy, but Ilana and Abbi often touch on more serious subjects in their own comedic way. Weed doesn’t define them, but it plays a significant role in their lives and helps them relax and have fun-just like all of us normal everyday women who love to smoke weed.
Since the success of Broad City, there have been many television shows pitched that center around weed. Last year Snoop brought Mary + Jane to MTV. The show has since been cancelled, but it centered around two female entrepreneurs who sold weed through a delivery service in LA. This August, Kathy Bates will star in a new Netflix series called Disjointed (here’s the trailer), about a life-long advocate of legalization who owns her own dispensary in LA. Disjointed will be the first cannabis-centric show with serious star-power attached to it, including Bates and Chuck Lorre, known primarily for being the man responsible for The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men to life, and breaking Charlie Sheen.
One thing missing from this growing trend of female cannabis users in TV shows is that we’re not really having an open conversation about women and cannabis. Starting in September, a new show produced by Snoop Dogg called Queens of the Stoned Aged will premiere on the YouTube channel for Snoop’s cannabis website Merry Jane. Producer Tara Aquino told Refinery that she’s hoping to “feminize” cannabis culture and rid it of the “bro culture” stereotype often associated with it.
“Weed is a male-dominated culture, and it’s hard for women to find themselves represented in it, so this show is meant to be a symbol and empower women to come out and show that, look, there are successful women who smoke and who have weed as part of their daily life and are killing it in their respective industries.
Weed doesn’t hold you back, if anything, it enhances you.
We wanted to use weed as a jumping off point for conversations about bigger issues like sex and wellness and creativity and show how weed really affects and benefits all those things. We wanted women to openly discuss their relationship to weed in a safe space, and from there, [talk about] their relationship to the world and to each other”
Queens of the Stoned Age will feature some prominent and influential women in the industry, and will touch on a variety of issues they face including marriage, relationships, careers, food, politics and sex. From the trailer I recognized adult film actresses Riley Reid and Janice Griffith (two stars who are often smoking in their instagram and snapchat stories), adult film legend Jenna Haze, and a wide variety of artists, photographers and activists.
I’m excited for Queens of the Stoned Age because not only is it showing a wide spectrum of females in the industry, but it looks like it’s portraying a wide spectrum of women. Diversity in the cannabis community is a topic I really hope they address, representation isn’t just about gender-it’s important to include people of different ethnicity and background as well. Seeing someone who represents you in the culture and industry gives you a feeling of belonging
If you want to learn more about women and the cannabis industry, check out Weediquette’s “Mary Janes” episode, where host Krishna Andavolu spends time with notable women in the industry, including trimmers, models, and executives.