6 Reasons Smoking Weed Can Be A Feminist Act
If you smoke weed, I doubt the first thing you think of when you toke up is what a fantastic feminist you are. At first, it doesn't sound like those two concepts should even be in the same sentence together, but in many ways, weed and women were meant to be together. For starters, the marijuana plant we smoke is female. (There is a male plant, but it's never used to get you high.) Marijuana growers do everything they can keep their whole crop female, and all the flowering plants are cloned from one plant called the Mother.
But ever since we started seeing marijuana use in the media, it's been predominantly a male-centered subject, which isn't surprising, considering a 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed adult men were 50 percent more likely to have smoked weed in the last month than women. And until recently, it was very rare to see a female stoner in a movie or TV show unless she was a lazy, un-relatable loner, or someone who was deeply troubled (remember Busy Phillips in Freaks and Geeks?).
That's all changing, though, and women aren't afraid to come out and be proud about their marijuana use. As a result, we're lucky to have shows like Broad City and public figures like Lady Gaga who sing the praises of marijuana. As we shift our perception of what a stoner is and shed previous stereotypes that left women out of the picture, we're also witnessing women at the forefront of the marijuana reform conversation and at the head of the ever-growing marijuana industry. Like any other pocket of our society, the world of weed is still dominated by wealthy white dudes, which makes it all the more exciting that women are rising in the ranks to demand their voices be heard on the matter. You can't deny it — it sure is a thrilling time to be a woman who likes to smoke pot.
Here are six ways smoking weed can be a feminist act.
1. Women Are Taking Over The Marijuana Industry
One way to put your feminism into action is by supporting women-owned business as often as you can. If you're a pot smoker, this is going to be easier than ever, seeing that women are quickly rising to power in the marijuana business, one of the fastest growing American industries today. California-based research company Arcview Research recently released data projecting that weed is expected to bring in $11 billion in revenue in the year of 2019. (Compare that to $2.7 billion we saw in 2014, both in recreational and medicinal marijuana products.)
Considering how quickly the cannabis industry is becoming an important part of our economy, it's incredible to see women seizing so many roles of leadership within it. There are many different roles for women to make a difference in marijuana trade. Female attorneys, doctors, chemists, chefs, nurses, investors, and others have found their own place in the industry doing work that is lucrative and makes a difference in people's lives.
For example, the American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA) is a national organization that brings together nurses, and trains them in cannabis therapy. It has 315 members, and 271 of them are women. Similarly, cannabis science is said to be the place in which women are making the most strides. Genifer Murray, a scientist in charge of CannLabs, a Colorado cannabis testing facility, told Newsweek she employs mostly women with advanced science degrees. She claims this industry is perfect for women, saying, "This is a compassionate industry, for the most part, especially if you're dealing with the medical side. The medical patients need time and consideration, and women are usually the better gender for that. The industry is flat-out geared for women."
2. Women Are Also Leading Marijuana Reform
In 2014, Women Grow was born, a professional marijuana women's networking group. They started with over 70 people, but as of 2015 they have grown to over 1,000 people and now meet monthly in over 30 cities. Shaleen Title, a drug reform activist attorney, runs a marijuana recruitment agency called THC Staffing, which is owned by women and run by more than 50 percent female employees. Finally, when it comes down to legalization efforts in the states of Colorado and Washington, the majority of people on the front lines were women between the ages of 30 and 50.
All of these numbers are proof that women have some pretty strong beliefs about marijuana reform and they're not going to sit back and let the guys take the reigns on this one. The momentum doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon, either. As Nevada Representative Dina Titus told Newsweek, "It’s one of the fastest-moving social issues I’ve ever seen."
3. Smoking Weed Can Give Women Some Dangerously Creative Ideas
There is scientific evidence linking marijuana to creativity in general, a connection that very well may impact the creative feminist world in some small way. Studies at Johns Hopkins University found that people saw high levels of creative performance within 30 minutes of cannabis consumption due to the increased cerebral blood flow in the frontal lobe of their brains. Put simply, it seems that weed can promote divergent thinking that contributes to the creative process. Other studies show that moderate marijuana use amplifies your imagination and helps you briefly step away from ordinary thoughts.
Of course, you don't have to smoke pot in order to be creative. But there are many women who gain a lot of insight into themselves and the world around them by engaging in recreational or medicinal marijuana use, and the fact that many still face the risk of jail time for such a choice is infuriating.
4. Marijuana Can Relieve Menstrual Cramps & Other Period-Related Issues
Weed has been used to treat PMS symptoms, particularly menstrual cramps, for centuries. There are rumors that Queen Victoria in the 1890s was administered cannabis to help her cramps and insomnia during the days leading up to her period. Even before that, though, there was an Irish physician by the name of Dr. William O'Shaughnessy in the 1840s who used pot to relieve women of their menstrual cramps and muscle spasms.
Even if it's not exactly a mainstream practice today, there are more women speaking up than ever before about the positive benefits marijuana has on their menstrual cycle. Whoopi Goldberg is particularly candid on the issue. She's launching a marijuana company that makes products specifically designed to help women, including cannabis-infused bath salts, chocolate, and creams. They're all made to provide relief for menstrual pains. She said in a statement, "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."
5. Marijuana Can Reduce The Anxiety That Women Are More Likely To Face
Women are 40 percent more likely to develop a mental illness in their lifetime than men are. Also, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says women are simply more likely to face psychological distress than men. This is due to a number of factors, including biological makeup, such as hormonal changes and the fact that we produce less serotonin than men, and societal pressures that include gender inequality and body shaming. It also has a lot to do with how much sexual abuse and violence we face, which directly leads to disorders like PTSD.
Women need the proper care and treatment to address these mental health issues — and marijuana can be part of that. A study published in Trends in Pharmocological Science proved that the cannabinoids found in weed "could be important modulators of anxiety, and might contribute to individual differences in anxious temperament and risk for anxiety disorders." Another study performed in 2008 found that administering THC had a positive effect on the amygdala, the part of the brain that's responsible for processing terror. Researchers said that the THC "significantly reduced the anxiety and extinguished fear in subjects who were exposed to pictures of threatening faces."
While marijuana might make stress and anxiety worse in some people, especially those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, most studies prove the opposite to be true.
6. People Still Think It's A "Guy Thing"
Despite all the forward movement women have achieved in the wonderful world of weed, our culture still can't shake the idea that guys are the ones primarily smoking weed. Back in 2009, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimated that 8 million American women smoked pot in the past year, but that was said to be a lowball figure. Fast forward to 2015, and surveys say that 35 percent of women have cozied up to marijuana before. The numbers are bound to keep growing.
Similar surveys are also bringing in statistics that disprove the stereotype that college dudes or guys with entry-level jobs (think Workaholics) are the only ones toking up. Studies show that everyone, regardless of income or socioeconomic status, is equally as likely to smoke weed at some point. In fact, almost half of all Americans admit to trying marijuana at least once. This includes women of all demographics, including students, high-powered professionals, teachers, and mothers.
By toking up and doing so with other female friends who enjoy the act, we are slowly shedding the myth that only lazy folks —and only guys — reach for marijuana. Because the truth of the matter is, women and weed go together for so many different reasons, and we're more confident than ever to come forward and announce ourselves as proud cannabis users.
Images: Comedy Central; WomenGrow/Instagram; Giphy (6)