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How Women Are Uniting to Shape the Cannabis Industry

Today’s cannabis can be a balm for almost anything—from cramps to menopause, migraines, and beyond.

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Humans are meant to live in community, and most women are compelled to connect: any excuse will do to pour one’s heart out over a low-fat latte or a glass of Chardonnay. Downloading about money, men, diets, and depression with friendly femmes has been shown to promote healing. But lately, women are more likely to puff on vapes together than to sip Vouvray. They’re bonding over cannabis: not just for mellowing out, but for getting down to business. The goal can be money or harmonic convergence—because it’s now possible to achieve both simultaneously.

“It’s about living a high life, rather than getting high,” says Kate Miller, co-founder/CEO of Miss Grass, an online publication covering modern women in weed. “Cannabis culture weaves into so many aspects of our lives, from health to work, beauty to food. Women are drawn to the emerging cannabis industry because it allows them to launch businesses that combine commerce with caring.”

The buzz words of the new cannabis culture are “wellness,” “healing,” and even “beauty”—which altogether spells “big bucks.” CBD products, or cannabidiol, the non-psychotropic anti-inflammatory cannabis compound, is mostly what draws today’s dames: It’s a balm for almost anything female: menstruation cramps, menopause moods, and migraines—even sexual stimulus.

One anonymous female cannabis business owner admits she was lured by the sexual side effect. “To me, THC and CBD create the female Viagra, heightening the senses, helping you get into your body.”

 

“Cannabis culture weaves into so many aspects of our lives, from health to work, beauty to food. Women are drawn to the emerging cannabis industry because it allows them to launch businesses that combine commerce with caring.”—Kate Miller, Miss Grass

 

And at its root, cannabis is literally female. Olivia Alexander, CEO of Kush Queen—which sells products like lubricant (very popular), bath bombs, topicals, and tinctures—clarifies: “All cannabis we consume is from the female plant; it’s a perfect storm for women, a new industry where women see opportunity. It fits into the current women’s wave: running for office, running companies. Cannabis is a part of that new liberation.” More than 60 percent of the U.S. population now lives in a state with some form of legalized marijuana.

Kush Queen

Kush Queen’s Olivia Alexander and her company’s bath bombs.  Courtesy of Kush Queen

The early female pioneers of the movement are the best known—and the most affluent. Dr. Dina, a nickname bestowed by BFF Snoop Dogg, entered the movement in 2003, creating LA’s first medical marijuana dispensary. Mary-Louise Parker’s Nancy Botwin on Showtime’s Weeds was based on Dr. Dina. The Cannabis Business Exchange considers the top women in the biz to be Patricia Rosi—CEO of Wellness Connection of Maine, a Portland company with four dispensaries—and Nancy Whiteman, whose Colorado-based Wana Brands has made millions in edible gummies.

Kirsti Blustein, who founded wellness brand Khus & Khus, spells out the female obsession with CBD.  “Inflammation makes us age faster. CBD stabilizes the body—it’s an adaptogen (an herbal anti-stress substance), a terpine (oil that contains hydrocarbons). It affects serotonin, which is why it’s the perfect sedative for menstruation and menopause.”

Former beauty, fashion, and entertainment media mavens are now reinventing themselves as cannabis growers, editors, writers, publicists, even CEOs. Women’s magazines for cannabis are sprouting up all over. Titles include website Miss Grass, MJ Lifestyle, Broccoli, and Gossamer.

LA fashion and entertainment marketing mavens Jenn Gross and Julia Axelrod formed HiFi Exchange a year ago. It’s a collective of marketing, public relations, and retailers the aim to “elevate the cannabis marketplace,” according to the company’s website. HiFi’s Exchange’s showroom representing top-shelf beauty and wellness brands. Theirs is one of the many PR companies heading in a “higher” direction. “Weed was always what boys did,” says Gross. “Boys had bongs in their bedrooms. The big plant and grower operations are still male. Where women come in: as herbalists, midwives, communicators.”

Papa & Barkley

HiFi Exchange brand, Papa & Barkley.  Courtesy of Papa & Barkley

Rosie Mattio created New York based RMPR to work with fashion brands—and now has 17 clients in her all-cannabis shop. “An article in WWD about cannabis beauty made it a beauty trend. Then Elle, Allure, and Vogue picked up on it. It all relates to the women’s movement of the last year: the pink-pussy-hatted, #metoo anti-establishment movement.”

Paige Guzman is VP of marketing of PAX Labs, known as the Apple of vaporizer brands. “When medical and recreational legalization took shape, there was an influx of cultured women entrepreneurs,” she says. “Now we’re a real community.”

Missy Bradley launched Colorado-based Stillwater Brands, which produces THC- and CBD-infused edibles under brand names such as Ripple Dissolvables, Stillwater Gummy Supplements, and Stillwater Teas & Coffees—all infused with Stillwater’s Ripple precisely dosed, water-soluble cannabinoid distillates.

A new avenue for wellness through cannabis is the female cannabis retreat. When Sailene Ossman, co-founder of Ganja Goddess Getaway women’s retreat, was 19, she barely survived a near-fatal car accident, which caused constant pain. “Someone recommended cannabis, and I never used another pain killer,” she says. Ganja Goddess Getaway is a members-only social club with retreats that focus on using cannabis as a creative and spiritual tool to promote sisterhood and self-love. Ossman says, “Ganja Goddess is a three-day all-inclusive getaway: We like joints instead of wine. It’s empowering to help us connect to better selves.”

Products from Bluebird805.  Bluebird805

Sara Rotman was considered a New York fashion guru. But when she experienced renal failure, she and her husband bought a farm in Santa Barbara. “I was never a cannabis user,” Rotman says. “But CBD worked. So we said, ‘fuck it,’ let’s grow our own medicine. We now have six licenses and create product for our brand Bluebird 805, with love.”

Jenae Alt, a producer actress and self-described “badass” has recently created perhaps the most desirable of all female-directed cannabis products: a strain of flower that eschews compulsive junk food craving. “One day I thought: ‘Why do we have to have the munchies?’ That’s when Skinny Weed came to life.” Dieters, take heart: It launches at the Sundance Film Festival at the end of January.

“This is the green rush for women,” proclaims Alt. “Women are nurturers at heart, bringing love, peace, and harmony to the cannabis world. This makes us as women feel proud—we’re taking care of ourselves.”

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