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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

5 reasons cannabis and feminism are best buds

There has always been a slow and steady rumbling coming from within the bowels of the global cannabis movement, but

There has always been a slow and steady rumbling coming from within the bowels of the global cannabis movement, but it was the seismic shifts of a new feminist movement, last year, that unearthed a forgotten intersection between women and weed. Since then, the world has placed a hard spotlight on the female cannabis warriors, CEOs, artists and innovators from around the world who are creating a new frontier—the feminist cannabis movement. What has traditionally been a boy’s club is now turning into a female-dominated community, but it’s not an anomaly. There are several reasons why cannabis and feminism have become the organic and unflinching sisterhood we’ve all been waiting for:

HERSTORY

Up until the witch hunts, women were revered for their magical and medicinal healing abilities. While the men were hunting game and undoubtably bashing skulls in with rocks, women were entrusted with foraging and creating herbal treatments. From menstruation and labour complications, to postpartum depression and the pain of defloration, cannabis gained notoriety for its effectiveness in treating female conditions. Even Queen Victoria used pot to deal with her monthly visit. Once prohibition took hold, the women and their discoveries were largely forgotten. It’s only in recent years that these traditional applications have begun to reemerge as popular alternatives to things like Midol and anti-depressants.

BIOLOGY

If thousands of years of human history don’t do it for you, the flower’s womanhood can be broken down to the molecular level. Only female plants produce the amount of chemicals required for the physical and mental benefits that come with ingesting cannabis. Male plants mature, develop pollen sacs (which eventually burst and spill out everywhere…sounds familiar) and are effectively useless beyond uncontrolled fertilization. Female plants, on the other hand, go on to produce the mounds of bud rich with THC and CBD that we know and smoke today. Producers looking to harvest large crops of cannabis usually bypass the lengthy gender identification process and simply work off of cloned females, called the Mother, or purchase feminized seeds. So, woman up and grow some buds.

THE ROOTS OF REBELLION

Before cannabis mutated into a suit-wearing, publicly traded, multibillion dollar capitalist Franken-industry, it was an underground, illicit counterculture for freaks and hippies. Guess what else saw that metamorphosis. You got it. Feminism. What started out as a brave few Suffragettes turned into a mobilized civilian army, which, decades later, turned into a global industry branding women’s empowerment. Today, feminism sells. Both movements have always teetered between inclusivity and activism, but have since landed in the sights of big money. Now, is that a bad thing? Everyone has a different opinion. If we’re winning the battle against marginalization, maybe becoming corporate sell-outs won’t sting so badly. What is certain, however, is that both cannabis and feminism were raised and nurtured in the muddy, bloody trenches of fundamental human rights.

CLIENT-ELLE

The cannabis industry has seen unprecedented global growth. The legal market in North America alone is currently worth about $10 billion, and expected to grow substantially over the next year. An EY report predicts by 2028, women will control close to 75 per cent of discretionary spending worldwide. Those two economic indicators can either work together or against, depending on how businesses equip their teams over the next several years. Put simply, when it comes to cannabis, women are a smart business decision. I am not partial to the argument that women should be given leadership roles because they are “more compassionate” and, because cannabis is a wellness product, understand it better. I think there are men who innately understand cannabis from the wellness perspective. What is true, however, is to understand their demographic, businesses need women contributing to every facet from concept to production to distribution. Women understand consumers because they are the consumers.

INTERSECTIONALITY

With movements like #MeToo and The Women’s March, the world is seeing a renaissance of feminism. At the same time, we are seeing the global liberation of cannabis as it crawls out from beneath the shadow of nearly 100 years of prohibition. Intersectionality exists in every aspect of social justice and, as such, there is a strong, outspoken branch of feminism that expresses itself through cannabis. They both provide the other with a platform that diversifies their audience, expands their reach and proliferates a message of acceptance. At their most fundamental, both movements share the same goal of education and inclusivity.

There has always been a slow and steady rumbling coming from within the bowels of the global cannabis movement, but it was the seismic shifts of a… ]]>