The Future of Cannabis is Female
By Alyssa Ford
In the last decade, a stigma has surrounded cannabis and the people that use it. Society once held common ideologies about the plant, often viewing cannabis in a negative light and sometimes crude manner. Pop culture and film/television of the past hasn’t helped marijuana’s reputation, (think any Seth Rogen movie ever) usually portraying teenage or young adult males as the typical users. Pot smokers were thought of as lazy, sluggish, and prone to ordering a week’s worth of domino’s. In more recent times however, the stigma is shifting and women are at the front lines of this change.
All over the world, women in the cannabis industry are working to educate communities about the different compounds found in the plant and the many health benefits, especially for women’s health. By forming safe spaces for the use and discussion of marijuana as a holistic medicine, women are transforming cannabis culture and the ritual of self-care. I was able to chat with two west coast women involved in the reshaping of cannabis culture, and learn exactly how female power is building this next billion- dollar industry.
After graduating from Harvard business school, Jessica Assaf moved to the largest legal cannabis market in the world, Los Angeles. She formed the community of Cannabis Feminist as a way to connect and empower women. Assaf started by hosting cannabis women’s circles in her home, a safe place where women could share their stories about cannabis and their journeys, as well as test products in a comfortable environment.
Cannabis Feminist began hosting Bake Sales all across Los Angeles, which were home parties where women sold and sampled their best-in-class cannabis products. With new recreational legislation however, the Bake Sale model is no longer legal because it is no longer permitted to sample products, so now Assaf is working on launching her own line of cannabis wellness products and promoting the Cannabis Feminist survey for research.
Assaf feels that women are reshaping the industry by launching products that are “truly wellness products, from tinctures and topicals to capsules and intimacy oil focused specifically on female pleasure.” Because cannabis is still an emerging industry, women have the opportunity to build and define it. According to Assaf, the cannabis industry has the largest percentage of female executives. But Assaf says it isn’t about if women or men lead the industry, “I started Cannabis feminist to promote the idea that we all have feminine and masculine energies, and we believe feminism is collectively embracing the power of the feminine in all of us.” Although the cannabis plant can be male or female, it is the female plant that fully blooms and is used for its benefits. Cannabis feminist seeks to shift the focus from THC, the only psychoactive cannaboid found in the plant, to the other 100+ active compounds in the plant. Assaf believes that educating communities about the science that supports the cannabis plant as medicine can break the stigma surrounding it, and women are the leaders in this education. “By coming out of the cannabis closet, women are helping to normalize what it means to use cannabis. We want to end the stigma so everyone, including your father and grandmother, is open to the benefits of this magical plant medicine.”
Portland, Oregon native, Christiana Hedlund is an artist who designs a variety of items under the title Moon House Ceramics. Her sculptures include organic dishes, spoons, and pipes. Hedlund likes her work to be beautiful enough to display, but also abstract. She draws inspiration from artists of all mediums, ranging from the sculptural work of Noguchi, to the playfulness of Matisse.
Like the Cannabis Feminist community, Hedlund believes women are reshaping the cannabis industry by being at the forefront of bringing awareness about the importance of self-care. “I often think about how to create small places of sacredness in everyday life and cannabis can be a part of that self-care ritual” Hedlund said.
The legalization of cannabis in some states has definitely helped with breaking old stigmas, and Hedlund says many old taboos were broken just by the simple fact that cannabis became “okay” to talk about. Hedlund spoke of cannabis legalization in Oregon revealing, “In the first year cannabis was legalized in Oregon the state garnered 85 million dollars in marijuana taxes that were used to help fund our schools, mental health initiatives, and our state police.” Not only structural, but also social perceptions about cannabis are shifting. Hedlund spoke of an herb shop called Serra near her home in Portland, and how the shop is redefining the design aesthetics of cannabis. Serra has taken the stereotypical “dark and dingy head shop” and turned it into something contemporary and artful. The store keeps a minimal aesthetic with light wood floors and fixtures. The product is displayed on handmade ceramics and contemporary west coast ceramicists make the pipes and bongs sold in shop. Hedlund shared a final thought on how women are influencing the industry, “the merging of good design, funding to aid the community, and the thoughtfulness around self care are all ways we are breaking old stereotypes around cannabis.”
Photo by Cannabis Feminist