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The unlikely new frontier of feminism – marijuana

Legal marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the US – it can bring joy and relieve chronic pain. And female entrepreneurs are at its forefront

Last modified on Tue 8 Aug 2017 19.49 BST

I f you enjoy weed, but live in a country or state where cannabis remains illegal, then observing the firing up of a lucrative legal marijuana market – the fastest growing industry in the US – may have left you a tad bemused, if not green with envy. The transformation of cannabis culture from being an illicit, counter-cultural, and frowned-upon activity into a multibillion dollar capitalist behemoth surely represents one of the largest western social changes of this century.

While Bill Clinton claimed never to have inhaled, revelations about Obama’s “Choom Gang” days (which allegedly involved hot-boxing a car and then, once the smoke was gone, sucking any residue from the ceiling) did not dent him politically. Even in the UK, when David Cameron – a geek by any standards, let alone when compared with Obama – admitted smoking pot, many of us were more upset by the fact that he did so while listening to Supertramp.

Weed is now big business, but it being America, it is also naturally riddled with celebrity endorsements. The launch of a Bob Marley weed brand, Marley Natural, last month was controversial, while “ganjapreneur” celebrities still living include Snoop Dogg, Melissa Etheridge, Wiz Khalifa and Willie Nelson. This week, Whoopi Goldberg, who has long been in favour of legalisation, added her name to the list with the launch of a marijuana company aimed specifically at women. The products – which include cannabis-infused bath salts, chocolate and cream, are intended to help alleviate menstrual pain. “This was all inspired by my own experience from a lifetime of difficult periods and the fact that cannabis was literally the only thing that gave me relief,” said Goldberg in a statement.

As a girl who gets high, I say all power to her. I never thought I’d be declaring anything relating to the (ostensibly) male-dominated world of weed a feminist victory, but endeavours such as Goldberg’s are good for feminism and good for women. Because, perhaps surprisingly given weed’s “stoner bro” image, women are at the forefront of this new industry.

Newsweek claimed last August that legal marijuana could be the first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men. Female entrepreneurs such as Giadha DeCarcer argue that there are fewer barriers to women because the business is so new, and the industry networking group Women Grow already has thousands of subscribers. No grass ceiling here.

Women, of course, have always got high, but there remains a gender stoner gap (almost twice as many men smoke weed), and until fairly recently, those who partook did so against a cultural backdrop of dude-bro stoner mythology. When I was a teenager, the people I witnessed getting high in books or on television were Cheech and Chong, Howard Marks, Afroman, Bill and Ted, Seth Rogan and Harold and Kumar. With the notable exceptions of Jackie and Donna in That 70s Show, there were scant female stoner role models. Yet many of my female friends (and some of their mothers) enjoyed a spliff or five of an evening. Now, in 2016, the madcap stoned adventures of Abbi and Ilana in Comedy Central’s Broad City have changed that narrative.

There’s no doubt that the “lady stoner” is having a cultural moment. Rihanna’s stoner selfies are proud and unashamed. Several TV shows have nuanced female characters who also enjoy lighting it up. To search #Stonergirl is to be bombarded with an array of posts. Granted, many feature partial nudity and appear to play into male fantasies, an endeavour to which the phallic properties of a bong seem to lend themselves well (I don’t generally choose to get high in a lace thong and a crop top that reads “I love you pizza and pot”, but hey, good for you, not for me).

Wouldn’t it be progress if all those women that we’re constantly being told drink too much had another outlet?

The female stoner’s public image may be only in its infancy, but away from the media, legal marijuana is changing the lives of women in chronic pain. It is being used to ease the symptoms of conditions affecting women, such as osteoporosis and period pain, while many others claim it helps with everything from anxiety to insomnia and is even said to give some better orgasms.

A safe, legal industry in which woman are well represented, and which makes a tangible difference to their quality of life: what could be more feminist than that? Certainly not an illegal black market semi-controlled by pimps and drug barons.

Some of the best conversations I’ve had with other women have involved weed. I’m certainly not saying that you should blaze all day as some kind of feminist statement – smoking weed does come with its inherent risks after all – but a world in which these conversations are able to take place legally and without shame feels like it might be a better one. Wouldn’t it be progress if all those women that we’re constantly being told drink too much had another outlet? Wouldn’t it be safer if your teenage daughter didn’t have to hang around Camden Lock at 1am just to get hold of some weed? No longer would young women have to ask drunken baby boomers to bite them off lumps of hash in the ladies’ toilets of pubs in Archway.

Women of Britain: the chance to make a better world is before us, and it’s one without period pain.

Legal marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the US – it can bring joy and relieve chronic pain. And female entrepreneurs are at its forefront

Women and Weed: Why Marijuana Legalization is a Feminist Cause

Smoking weed to smash the patriarchy?

Emily Rose Thorne
Jul 1, 2019 · 6 min read

Smoking weed to smash the patriarchy? Well, common-sense drug reform isn’t just about letting Bay Area stoners light up whenever they please. It’s rooted in undoing decades of social inequality that led to nationwide pot prohibition in the first place.

Marijuana legalization typically finds support in women because its medicinal properties can treat conditions that disproportionately affect AFAB (assigned female at birth) people, but there are plenty of other reasons why legal pot is a feminist issue.

Marijuana could become the first billion-dollar industry in the US dominated by women.

Pot could bring in a pr o jected $11 billion in 2019 alone, and women are at the forefront of the industry’s growth. They’re not just working in dispensaries, either, so forget the stereotypical hot budtender. More women hold executive positions in the marijuana sector than in most other industries. In general, less than a quarter of executives are women, but they fill between 27% and 36% of exec seats in the legal pot business.

Female attorneys, doctors, nurses, chemists, chefs, investors, teachers, and other professionals have found a more welcoming space to practice in the world of weed. Cannabis science is taking off as a field of study, too, and most of its students are — you guessed it — women, especially Black women and femmes. Many already have advanced science degrees, and they’re learning to apply that knowledge to the marijuana industry.

In fact, here’s a list of some of the most badass women and femmes in cannabusiness from The High Times.

Women and LGBTQIA+ activists pioneered modern marijuana reform — especially activists of color.

Most pro-legalization activists in Colorado and Washington State were women between the ages of 30 and 50, and we owe medical marijuana legislation to the LGBTQIA+ community. During the throes of the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the early 1990s, they advocated pot’s medical value. It helped alleviate some of the unpleasant symptoms of the disease, which still affects LGBTQIA+ folks more than any other population in the US.

“The LGBTQ community out in California were the first main activists pushing for medicinal marijuana laws,” Khadijah Tribble, an HIV and cannabis activist who studied pot policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, told The Washington Blade. “When you have identities that have been systematically discriminated — your gender, your sexuality — you are primed to be more marginalized by marijuana laws. If you are a cisgender white male, you are the least likely to be stopped for marijuana. If you are a person of color who is trans, you are more likely to be stopped, more likely to do time, and the time will be longer.”

These discrepancies persist today. LGBTQIA+ individuals may be more likely to use marijuana than heterosexual people. In turn, they are also more likely to suffer the consequences of pot prohibition; and conversely, to have promoted reform.

“It’s still an LGBT issue because it’s still not accessible to everybody everywhere,” Paul Scott, president of the Los Angeles Black Gay Pride Association, said in an interview with The Washington Blade. “HIV/AIDS is still high in Black populations in the South, and they can’t get pot. They still have to break laws.”

Marijuana criminalization is inextricably linked to racism.

Weed wasn’t high on America’s watchlist until the turn of the twentieth century, when displaced and threatened populations from Mexico crossed into the US seeking refuge during the Mexican Revolution. They brought marijuana with them and used it for both medical and recreational purposes. Although some US plantations were actually required to grow hemp and Americans used medical cannabis frequently until this point, white Southerners hadn’t come around to its medical purposes and had little tolerance for the influx of immigrants into their communities (surprise!). Painting pot as a public menace was a convenient way for them to demonize the Mexican populations and perpetuate the stereotype of Hispanics as lazy.

From there, journalists and anti-marijuana activists grabbed the attention of legislators and policymakers, who started putting restrictions in place in an effort to control “the Mexican menace” and incarcerate Brown folks who smoked it. The first marijuana ban in the county affected El Paso, Texas, in 1915, and officials quickly got to work rounding up Mexican immigrants and deporting them on drug charges.

Once drug policy reform efforts ramped up in the 1980s and ’90s, it was women, Black and Hispanic Americans, and LGBTQIA+ folks leading the way — but not all of these marginalized groups were treated equally. The HIV/AIDS epidemic particularly shed light on the racism underlying this and other social justice spaces.

“We had all these other diseases that marijuana helps for, but it wasn’t until the visual effect of young white men dying in the hospitals with AIDS that it shook the conscience of America and began to change the law,” Scott told The Washington Blade. “It wasn’t because of Black folks getting arrested. It wasn’t because it was the right thing to do. For the first time, this country saw young white men dying and sprung into action to do something.”

More Black people receive marijuana charges than white people even today, although people are equally likely to smoke weed no matter their race, gender, economic class, or education level, despite media stereotypes. And when it comes to the marijuana industry, Black entrepreneurs still face discrimination when trying to access capital. Systemic racism within American capitalism can limit people of color from equally participating in the industry — especially multiply-marginalized individuals.

Weed has ties to goddess-based spiritual practices and feminine deities.

It’s no coincidence that the part of the marijuana plant we smoke is the female part. Weed has been a part of feminist spirituality for as long as history has documented it. Think about it: plant medicine and herbal healing were long considered the tools of the witch, and political activism and female spirituality go hand-in-hand more often than not.

According to Ellen Komp, the author of Tokin’ Women: A 4,000 Year Herstory and an activist as deputy director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the unity of weed and woman has been revered as divine since the 3rd millennium BC.

“Back then, a predominant Sumerian goddess named Ishtar was associated with cannabis, and up until the Semitic invasion in 2600 BC, women practiced the healing arts without restriction,” Komp told VICE. “But by 1000 BC, women didn’t have that freedom to be healers anymore.”

And with the stripping of their right to practice came the first “crackdown” on marijuana use — from its very beginning, an affront to women’s autonomy.

Women still use weed in rituals and as a part of their spirituality. Just ask Gabriela Herstik, a practicing witch with Jewish and Latina roots who runs a monthly column in The High Times, The High Priestess. It’s all about using bud to supplement her craft, attune with deity, and get in touch with her sexuality.

Marijuana legalization has been a feminist cause since the idea was introduced. To step up for reform, check out some of the organizations making it happen and supporting victims of the failed War on Drugs:

Smoking weed to smash the patriarchy? Well, common-sense drug reform isn’t just about letting Bay Area stoners light up whenever they please. It’s rooted in undoing decades of social inequality that…