With last week’s announcement that Whoopi Goldberg will be releasing her own line of cannabis products for women, talk on many blogs has turned to the relationship between women and weed. To this day, women’s rights for body autonomy are still debated alongside issues of gender inequality in the workplace and headlines about misogynist boys clubs advocating rape. The marijuana industry has been revealed as a surprising bastion from gender turmoil where women have a unique opportunity to dominate a major field in its infancy. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy ride. On the surface, the marijuana industry can seem like just another male dominated industry where girls who smoke weed are portrayed as nothing more than clothing-optional mannequins. The business side may seem bleak at times too. For example, Goldberg’s initial attempts at marketing a line of marijuana products for women was purportedly disregarded as “too niche a market” by male industry insiders. But the Goldberg story also brings to light the potential symbiosis between women and cannabis; one that is every bit as strong as its relation to men.
The Public Persona of the Female Stoner
Women have smoked weed just as long as men have and chances are that you know (or are) a female weed smoker. But just a decade ago, Hollywood would have you believe that no woman was touching a joint unless she was in a retro ‘60s setting or wearing, at most, a bikini. It wasn’t exactly Breaking Bad
but when Weeds
debuted on Showtime, its portrayal of a single mother slinging ganja was considered edgy. Hell, it might still be considered edgy. That’s because the image of the female stoner is still in its dawn. But a decade ago, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a list of female marijuana smokers. Now, read any blog about marijuana and feminism and you’ll find lists
of female celebrities and characters in pop culture who like to get baked. Rihanna is often at the forefront but from musicians to comedians to actresses, it’s actually getting easier to note the female weed advocates. It’s still too early to say that for every Pineapple Express
there’s a Broad City
but a decade ago Broad City
would have never been a thing.
Women in Cannabusiness
We explored the opportunities for women in cannabusiness
last year, but the subject deserves a refresher. In October 2015, Marijuana Business Daily
reported that 36% of executive positions in the marijuana industry are filled by women, shooting past the 22% national average for females in executive roles. It’s still not the majority but it provides a significant stepping stone that may eventually find women evening out the scale in one of the country’s most promising new industries.
But marijuana industry opportunities for women aren’t confined to executive offices as Jennifer Gote can attest. If the plot for Weeds
seems outlandish, allow Gote to be your wake-up call. As the single mother of 4 kids, desperate times found her accepting a position as a bud trimmer. Less than two years later, she opened AOW Management; a large grow operation that also oversees dispensaries.
Girls Who Smoke Weed for Medicinal Purposes
Goldberg’s recent partnership with Maya Elisabeth has brought to light the role of medicinal marijuana in women’s health. Elisabeth has actually spent years in the marijuana industry, racking up a few Cannabis Cup awards as the founder of Om Edibles. She’s combining her expertise with Goldberg’s passion for providing female-centric medicinal cannabis products for the product line simply dubbed Whoopi & Maya that will only be available in California initially. Goldberg cites a family history of severe menstrual pain but acknowledges that this isn’t a rare challenge among women. Dysmenorrhea, the technical term for highly painful menstrual cramps, has been estimated to impact at least 50% of women of menstrual age
though some studies have found as many as 90% of women of reproductive age are affected
. Those are staggering numbers to write off as simply a niche market, especially considering that a 2013 Gallup poll found that 6% of women are already smoking pot
compared to 8% of men.
But we may be only hearing part of the story. Speaking to Vox
, Penn Medicine physician Nathaniel DeNicola proclaimed, “There really is no evidence for cannabis treating menstrual period pain.” DeNicola goes on to write off the relief felt by women as simply a complicated placebo effect supported by marijuana’s tendency to dull chronic pain in general. Though DeNicola has been actively researching medical marijuana in relation to gynecology, the sad truth is that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the federal government so marijuana research is severely lacking across the board. But with the DEA considering removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs
, we may see some concrete results in the not-so-distant future. The fact remains that marijuana has shown great efficacy in pain relief. With a potential 90% of women impacted by severe pain on a monthly basis, the application of marijuana for menstrual pain relief definitely deserves a closer look.
Though we’ve explored the reasons girls who smoke weed might be attracted to cannabis, the truth is that women don’t need validation on their preference any more than men. Weed may affect genders differently in a few areas but more often than not, marijuana sees no gender. The cannabis industry not only offers an opportunity for women to level the playing field but for men to acknowledge the equal importance of women on that field. It’s a chance to learn from the mistakes of the alcohol industry and their commercials rife with bikini-clad women bent over pool tables to a Van Halen soundtrack that has everything and nothing to do with cheap beer. Marijuana can shatter that tired paradigm with its medicinal properties, creative inspiration, and a potential sense of unity. Your sister might smoke it for her cramps. Your girlfriend might smoke it for her anxiety. Your mom might smoke it just to get high. None of that really matters. All that matters is that women are enjoying marijuana and that’s not changing anytime soon.