Women in Cannabis Throughout History
The cannabis industry has been rapidly growing and evolving over the past few years, with more and more states and countries legalizing the use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. While the industry is still dominated by men, women have been making significant strides in recent years, both as entrepreneurs and advocates. However, the history of women in the cannabis industry dates back much further than most people realize.
In fact, women have been involved in cannabis use and cultivation for centuries, and it was only in the 20th century that cannabis became criminalized and women’s involvement was pushed to the margins. In this blog article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of women in the cannabis industry and how they are reclaiming their place in the modern cannabis landscape.
Ancient Women and Cannabis Use
While it’s difficult to trace the exact origins of cannabis use, it’s clear that women have been using the plant for its medicinal properties for centuries. In ancient Egypt, women used cannabis to alleviate the pain of childbirth, and in ancient China, it was used to treat menstrual cramps and other gynecological issues. In India, women have been using cannabis for religious and spiritual purposes for thousands of years.
In fact, the word “ganja,” which is commonly used to refer to cannabis in India, is thought to have originated from the Sanskrit word “ganjika,” which means “a preparation of hemp.” Cannabis was also used in various traditional medicine practices in Africa and South America, where women were often the ones responsible for preparing and administering medicinal remedies.
Cannabis Prohibition and Women’s Involvement
Unfortunately, the 20th century saw the criminalization of cannabis in many parts of the world, including the United States. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made it illegal to cultivate, distribute, or possess marijuana, effectively driving cannabis use underground. As a result, women’s involvement in the cannabis industry was largely erased from the mainstream narrative.
However, this didn’t mean that women stopped using or advocating for cannabis altogether. In fact, many women continued to use cannabis for its medicinal properties, and some even grew their own plants in secret. During the countercultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s, women played a significant role in the fight for cannabis legalization, with groups like the Women’s Marijuana Movement advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana.
The Rise of Female Cannabis Entrepreneurs
It wasn’t until the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in certain states in the United States that women began to re-enter the cannabis industry in significant numbers. Today, women are leading the charge in many areas of the industry, from cannabis cultivation to product development and marketing.
According to a 2019 survey by Marijuana Business Daily, women make up 37% of executives in the cannabis industry, compared to just 21% in traditional industries. Some of the most successful cannabis companies in the state are founded or co-founded by women, including Kiva Confections, Sava, The Bloom Brand, and even our very own Passion Flower.
In addition to their entrepreneurial ventures, women are also making significant contributions to the research and development of cannabis products. Women-led companies like Fairwinds Manufacturing, are developing new and innovative ways to administer medical marijuana, while researchers like Dr. Sue Sisley are studying the potential benefits of cannabis for conditions like PTSD.
The Future of Women in the Cannabis Industry
While women have come a long way in the cannabis industry, there is still work to be done to ensure that women are represented and valued in all areas of the industry. One major issue is access to funding, as women-led cannabis businesses often struggle to secure the investment they need to grow and expand.
However, despite these challenges, women are making significant contributions to the industry. Here are just a few examples:
- Jazmin Hupp founded Women Grow, which has now grown to become the largest network of women in the cannabis industry.
- Wanda James is the founder of Simply Pure, a cannabis dispensary in Colorado, and was the first African American woman to own a cannabis dispensary in the US.
- Dr. Chanda Macias is the CEO of National Holistic Healing Center, a medical cannabis dispensary in Washington D.C., and is a leading advocate for diversity and inclusion in the industry.
- Charlo Greene is a former news anchor who famously quit her job on live television to become an advocate for cannabis legalization. She now runs the Alaska Cannabis Club and is a prominent voice for cannabis reform.
Despite the contributions of these and many other women in the industry, there is still work to be done to address the systemic barriers that have prevented women from fully participating in the industry. One significant challenge is the lack of access to capital, which has made it difficult for women to start and grow their own businesses.
However, there are also many opportunities for women in the industry. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, there will be a need for diverse perspectives and innovative ideas. Women have the potential to play a critical role in shaping the future of the cannabis industry.
In conclusion, the history of women in the cannabis industry is complex and multifaceted. From ancient times to the present day, women have played a significant role in the cultivation, advocacy, and entrepreneurship of cannabis. While there are still significant challenges facing women in the industry, there are also many opportunities for them to make their mark and help shape the future of this rapidly growing industry.
Thanks for reading,