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).
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.