Gender inequality plagues nearly all aspects of our society, and the legal cannabis business is no exception. Despite being generally associated with counterculture and more progressive politics, the industry is still a boys club for the most part.
Cannabis magazines are notorious for using dehumanizing photos of scantily clad women holding bongs or smoking joints to push products to a predominantly male audience. In fact, cannabis products for women are still considered niche since marketing solely to men has become so normalized. The problem stems in part from a lack of women in leadership positions. In 2015, only 36% of cannabis executives in the United States identified as female. While this number is higher than the national average, we still have a long way to go.
In honor of International Women’s Day, E1011 Labs would like to celebrate women empowerment by shining the spotlight on some of the most important, hard-working, glass ceiling-breaking ladies in cannabis!
Women In Cannabis Science
There is so much we still don’t know about the cannabis plant and its therapeutic uses, mostly due to the federal government hamstringing researchers by classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug for decades. Despite the barriers, the scientific community has made significant progress towards understanding cannabinoids and their effect on our bodies, and we have some awe-inspiring women to thank for it.
- Dr. Allyn Howlett: Our endocannabinoid system governs much of our body’s functional regulation, including memory retention, appetite, and mood. Dr. Howlett is best known for discovering the CB1 cannabinoid receptors within that system—a vital piece of the puzzle that puts us that much closer to fully understanding how cannabinoids work.
- Dr. Cecilia Hillard: Dr. Hillard, the Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, has done some incredible work to uncover how cannabinoids regulate mood and stress responses. Among her many accolades, Dr. Hillard was lauded with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS).
- Dr. Andrea Hohmann: The opioid crisis in this country claims thousands of lives every year. If we don’t find novel solutions soon, even more people will suffer. Working as the chairwoman of the Gill Center for Biomolecular Science at Indiana University in Bloomington, Dr. Hohmann has been tirelessly searching for those novel solutions. Her lab has mapped the cannabinoid receptors and has shown that activating the CB2 receptors can prevent opioid receptors and reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
Female Pioneers In History
Much of cannabis history has been shaped by strong women.
- Mary Jane Rathbun (Brownie Mary): After being arrested at age 57 for selling “magic brownies” in the Castro District of San Francisco. As part of her required community service, Mary volunteered with the Shanti Project to provide support for patients during the AIDS epidemic. She began providing her special brownies for both aids and cancer patients free of charge and saw how cannabis helped to ease their suffering. Later, Mary Jane Rathbun teamed up with fellow activist Dennis Peron to advocate for some of the earliest medical marijuana legislation ever passed in the country.
- Margaret Mead: One of the most well-known anthropologists in history, Margaret Mead, was also an early advocate for the legalization of cannabis. In 1969, Mead testified in front of the US Congress that cannabis should be legal, saying: “It is my considered opinion at present that marihuana is not harmful unless it is taken in enormous and excessive amounts. I believe that we are damaging this country, damaging our law, our whole law enforcement situation, damaging the trust between the older people and younger people by its prohibition.”
Female Owned Business In The Cannabis Industry
This International Women’s Day, consider supporting some woman-owned cannabis businesses.
Kush Queens: Started by influencer and lifelong cannabis-lover, Olivia Alexander, Kush Queens sells cannabis wellness products with women in mind. From glittery infused bath bombs to CBD lube, Kush Queens has everything you need for your personal self-care
Cannaclusive: This team, led by several extraordinary women of color, is filled with marketing savants. Their consulting services help POC start their own cannabis businesses, and their accountability list aims to expose and ultimately rectify the racial inequalities in the cannabis industry.
Treat Yourself: This women-owned holistic healing company creates delicious infused pastries, as well as other great items like natural deodorants and a CBD-infused skincare product line.