Cannabis has long been seen as a boys’ club.
Outside of Rihanna and Ilana from Broad City it might be hard for many marijuana lovers to think of a popular female “stoner.”
The fact that almost twice as many men smoke as women doesn’t come up in daily conversation. But just because we aren’t talking about the huge gap in male and female smokers doesn’t mean it isn’t worth talking about.
Understanding why the “stoner gender gap” exists would take much more time than we have in this post. But we can look at a few key factors.
So whether you just want to get high in mixed company more often or you’re interested in the larger implications, take a seat and take a hit and take a few minutes to see what we found out about why more women aren’t smoking weed (or why it isn’t more obvious when they do).
What Are the Current Smoking Rates for Men and Women?
In recent years, women have made up about 40% of marijuana smokers (SAMHSA 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health). If you expand your search to include anyone who has used marijuana in their lifetime, women account for 45% of smokers.
That doesn’t seem like such a big difference, especially when you compare the figures to historic rates of alcohol consumption among men and women. And according to a study conducted by cannabis industry analysts Eaze Insights, women are starting to close the already small marijuana gap.
If that’s the case, though, why aren’t there more famous female stoners and marijuana advocates – both real and fictional?
Why Don’t We See Women Smoking Weed More Often?
Every person who chooses not to smoke does so for his or her own reasons. But this would be an awfully disappointing article if you made it this far and we just left things there.
So we dug into available demographic data and usage studies, reviewed dozens of interviews with female smokers, and investigated how female stoners have been portrayed in the media and daily life.
Here are a few common reasons and theories for why more women don’t smoke (or don’t smoke more often).
Weed Is Marketed to Men
One explanation for why more women don’t smoke is that cannabis is often marketed to men and shown as a male activity.
While male stoners are seen as carefree, unwitting heroes, women are often still portrayed as either a barrier to weed (Half-Baked) or reluctant participants who didn’t have much choice (Weeds, Saving Grace).
Historically, men were also more likely to drink (and drink to excess) than women. But in the past 20-30 years – as companies developed new drinks and marketing campaigns specifically for women – the numbers have evened out. This could also be credited in part to more female drinkers being featured in the media (Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, It’s Always Sunny). Some studies even suggest women are now out-drinking men.
Cannabis culture is starting to see some of the changes that leveled the field for men and women drinkers. And the shift in tone could help women feel more comfortable in a culture that has often portrayed them as disinterested or unwelcome.
Sexual Objectification of Women Smoking Weed
Two of the top five search results for “famous female stoners” are about the “most beautiful” and “hottest” smokers.
Many dispensaries and marketing campaigns have used (or still use) “420 girls” or “weed girls” as a way to entice male buyers. The same tactic can be found at many bars and liquor stores across the country.
Some women see the positive embrace of female smokers – even if it focuses largely on appearance – as a sign that women are becoming more empowered and accepted in the cannabis community.
Others feel misrepresented or objectified, making it hard to feel truly welcome and comfortable in the industry.
Being Labeled the “Lonely Stoner Chick”
It can be hard to find other women who smoke (or smoke as often), especially for casual users who don’t normally attend local 420 friendly events. And women who enjoy cannabis often find themselves smoking alone or with “the guys.”
As Ruby Lott-Lavigna notes in a wonderful Vice News article “I could partake, but I would only ever be a guest in the bro-stoner house of bongs.”
And so, in order to foster more or deeper relationships with female friends who don’t smoke, some women reduce their use or try not to be as open about it. Others give up marijuana entirely.
Female Smokers Are Judged More Harshly Than Their Male Counterparts
Many marijuana users worry they will be judged if their family, friends, or coworkers know how often they smoke weed.
This can be especially hard for women who love bud. Women are often expected to operate in a caretaker role, and taking a night off to relax and focus on their own wants and needs can result in undue criticism from those who still stereotype cannabis consumers.
Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, Policy & Advocacy Manager at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), offers her take in an article for Vice News on “Why It’s Important to See Women Smoking Weed”.
“I wonder if part of it is to do with the fact that girls are taught—especially in school—to be very self-conscious, and concerned about how they’re viewed; all these things that cannabis culture is the opposite of.”
The Belief That Marijuana and Motherhood/Femininity Aren’t Compatible
Many moms enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a hard day. Are they bad mothers? Of course not! They’re just moms who happen to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a hard day.
Everyone needs to take time for themselves to relax and recharge. But marijuana isn’t viewed as motherly. And because of the stigma surrounding cannabis, many moms are forced to give up smoking or keep their use a secret – even from friends.
“I have even gotten backlash from people who identify as stoners, saying that moms should not partake.”
Britney Driver, Mother, Writer for The Cannabist
It’s not like mothers who smoke are lighting up in front of their children or leaving marijuana out and unlocked. But accusations of an unfit home – even unfounded ones – are a serious matter, and many moms would rather avoid the issue entirely.
Even women who aren’t planning on having children soon or at all can be viewed less positively for their marijuana use.
“…I would go out on dates with men or have them back to my apartment and they’d see that I smoked weed and it’d become something of a turn-off. Sometimes there was the thought that maybe you weren’t ladylike enough for them to be seriously interested in you.”
Jamie, Market Research Analyst (NYC)
Marijuana Affects Women Differently
One argument that doesn’t get much press is that marijuana affects females in a slightly different way than males.
First, cannabis may impair spatial memory more in females. Second, several studies indicate that females don’t experience as great a “high” feeling.
For some women, this combination of factors could be enough to make smoking a less enjoyable or rewarding experience.
Women in the Cannabis Industry
While there is still a difference in the rate of male and female smokers, the budding marijuana industry has seen an influx of powerful female executives.
With cannabis on pace to become a $10 billion industry by 2020, it represents incredible potential for motivated entrepreneurs. And because the industry is still growing and finding its feet, there is an opportunity to buck old traditions that have often resulted in a disproportionate number of men in leadership positions.
As Newsweek noted, “Legal marijuana could be the first billion-dollar industry not dominated by men.”
Karing Kind is Boulder’s First Recreational Marijuana Dispensary
At Karing Kind, we’re proud to be a part of a growing industry and we strive to offer a top-tier experience every time you enter our store or visit our website.
Our extensive menu, knowledgeable budtenders, award-winning customer service, and the lowest marijuana tax rate in the state make us the perfect Colorado cannabis destination.
Karing Kind is located just off of US-36, one mile north of Broadway, open daily from 9am-10pm
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