Comedy Central’s hilarious and insanely popular Broad City and weed go together like, well,
like Abbi and Ilana.
One time, Ilana snuck it to Abbi tucked away in her
“nature’s pocket,” and another Abbi made out with a 16-year-old while under its
influence. As absurd as the duo’s adventures on pot may be, their
happy-go-lucky marijuana consumption breaks taboos about women smoking up. Seen
from Abbi and Ilana’s colorful perspective, smoking weed is not so much a
gateway to other drugs as it is to madcap adventures in the city.
Their laidback attitude about pot reflects the times: Weed is just not that big a deal for most of us anymore. The majority of millenials, a whopping 68 percent in fact, think that marijuana should be legal, according to the Pew Research Center. Four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — have legalized recreational pot use, while another 19 have made medicinal marijuana legal. More states, including Massachusetts and Nevada, have legalization on the ballot for 2016.
With momentum for legalization building and stereotypes about those who smoke weed being broken, the growing marijuana industry is now boldly (and smartly) courting female cannabis users with a slew of products aimed at both longtime users and newbies.
“There are a lot of celebrities and public figures getting behind cannabis, and it is more approachable for women,” said Olivia Mannix, who co-founded the marketing firm Cannabrand with partner Jennifer DeFalco in 2014 to change the perception of marijuana.
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg question, whether weed
acceptance in popular culture came before legalization or the other way around,
but the effect has been the same nonetheless — women feel more comfortable buying and
using marijuana openly. “It’s only after full legalization that you see women turning
those corners,” said Jazmin Hupp, founder of Women Grow, a networking
organization for professional women in the cannabis industry.
Part of the pitch to women has been to highlight pot’s medicinal qualities and how it can help them deal with everything from splotchy skin to period cramps. Topical creams containing CBD, a compound found in cannabis that does not get users high, are popular among women says Hupp, who adds that the majority of marijuana bath and body products are also produced by women.
“You see women turning to natural medicine and plant-based medicine, they’re looking for alternative to pharmaceuticals,” Hupp said.
Cannabis is also influencing sex, in a more direct way than it ever did before. A personal lubricant made with marijuana is among the top-sellers
at Evolab, a weed company in Denver that sells wholesale to dispensaries, said
Eliot Dobris, a spokesman. What does a weed lube feel like? Well, that depends
on the user, but reportedly the formula reduces inflammation and pain while retaining the
“feel-good nature of cannabis,” says Dobris.
Edibles are another type of marijuana product popular with women. But they
drew lots of negative attention from the CDC in 2014 when a 19-year-old student jumped to his
death after eating a pot cookie. Because they have
to be digested, edibles take longer to kick in, leading some users to eat more
than the recommended amount resulting in what one Denver doctor called “near-comatose” highs. The CDC warned
that edibles are not subject to inspection by the FDA and it’s impossible to
tell what or how much THC is in them. Nevertheless, vegan, sugar-free edibles are
cropping up in the market, says Hupp.
Dosage issues aside, there remains one major barrier for women embracing pot: It’s still illegal in the majority of the country. Although state laws vary, federal law outlaws all marijuana whether for medicinal or recreational purposes. That means that shipping lotions with CBD across state lines is illegal. Someone — almost always a brown or black person — is arrested every minute for pot possession.
Scott Bettano, who launched Social High (a Boston-based app that aims to bring weed enthusiasts together) noted that women exercise more caution on the network precisely because of the illegality.
“You have people that are mothers who want to share their passion for smoking and growing but their friends and family don’t know they smoke and they don’t want to post on Facebook and they don’t want to reveal their status because of child services,” Bettano said, adding that users on the network can choose to remain anonymous and that sales on the app are strictly prohibited. Mannix hopes that with more visibility, in part due to representations in popular culture, ideas around marijuana will also expand.
“I use cannabis every day but I’m not going to label myself a pothead, just as someone who has a beer is not an alcoholic,” she said. “There should be no labels around the use of cannabis.”