On the heels of all the positive press Marijuana got this year, America is on the verge of decriminalizing its use nationwide.
But who is driving this phenomenon? What comes to mind when you picture someone who uses marijuana? For many it’s the stereotypical image of a lazy, dirty stoner who laughs while listening to weird music and prefers hemp over food.
What if I told you that these assumptions are being challenged by new studies that reveal the “real” pot enthusiasts: women.
Mainstream publications like Vogue, Elle and The New York Times are echoing the news on women and marijuana. Elle looked at the “Marijuana Mom,” the top women in the pot industry, and how to throw a “classy cannabis party.”
Vogue magazine published a piece on cooking with marijuana. And the New York Times reported on the recent explosion of vaporizers that allow consumers to smoke pot without inhaling all the toxic and carcinogenic byproducts. A recent survey shows that women are 50% more likely to use vaporizers than men.
It seems that marijuana has changed its stereotypical male stoner rep to become downright chic. A 2013 Gallup poll reported that 30 percent of women have tried marijuana at least once, and 6 percent smoke it regularly. That number continues to increase.
I wondered how the average female cannabis-user felt about the stereotype. So I spoke with a handful of women across the country, who wished to remain anonymous. The majority of women I interviewed‚ ranging from early 20-something college students to 50-year old professionals, suggested the stereotype is completely off base.
Elizabeth*, a real estate agent from Dallas, said that “guys used to be surprised when they found out I smoked pot, they thought I was all business and not fun.”
Sally*, a 21-year-old student from San Diego, CA, spoke about her college experience, saying that people were surprised she used marijuana because she appears to be so ‘grounded.’ “I think a lot of people associate Marijuana with punks and nerds,” she said.
Abby*, a 40-year old lab technician and mother of two from Boston has been using pot for 20 years. She said that she wants folks to know that yes, she enjoys cannabis recreationally, but that she’s also “the mom at the playground or the baseball game, the substitute teacher volunteering in your kids classroom, the employee of the month at the supermarket.”
“Most people that I personally know that smoke are women who have at least one college degree and enjoy thriving careers,” said Julie*, a 39-year-old college professor from Houston.
Despite these revelations, there’s an inherent stigma that still exists when it comes to women who use pot. But the recent legalization of medical, and recreational marijuana could break down the stereotypes.
Teresa*, a 29-year-old optometrist noted that “Most people I know, once they hear that I smoke and that I have both chronic anxiety and fatigue syndrome, they express sympathy, not judgment,” she said.
With marijuana policies are changing across the country pretty rapidly, the current is moving towards complete legalization. But the use of cannabis is still America’s greatest taboo. I hope one day, soon, men and women can share their own experience with marijuana usage openly, and be viewed no differently than adults that consume alcohol responsibly.