The history of cannabis is often dominated by tales of male cultivators, activists, and entrepreneurs. However, beneath the surface, there exists a rich tapestry of remarkable women who have played pivotal roles in shaping the cannabis industry and pushing for its acceptance. This exposé aims to shed light on the often overlooked contributions and achievements of women in cannabis history, celebrating their resilience, innovation, and determination.
- Ancient Origins: Long before cannabis became stigmatized, women were integral to its cultivation and utilization. Historical evidence suggests that women in ancient societies were knowledgeable about cannabis as a medicinal herb and its spiritual applications. They played essential roles in cultivating and processing the plant, crafting remedies, and passing down their wisdom from generation to generation.
- Medical Pioneers: As cannabis made its way into Western medicine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, several women stood at the forefront of its therapeutic applications. Dr. Mary Jane Rathbun, also known as “Brownie Mary,” defied societal norms by openly distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients in the 1980s, providing them with relief and compassion. Other female medical professionals like Dr. Alice O’Leary-Randall and Dr. Jean Talleyrand fought for the recognition of cannabis’s medicinal potential, paving the way for its acceptance in modern healthcare.
- Advocacy and Activism: Throughout the 20th century, women have been instrumental in fighting against cannabis prohibition and advocating for policy reform. In the 1970s, women like Stephanie Smith and Mary Jane Rathbun actively participated in grassroots movements, organizing protests, and lobbying for change. Organizations such as Women Grow, founded by Jazmin Hupp and Jane West, have played a crucial role in empowering women to thrive in the cannabis industry and breaking down barriers.
- Cannabis Entrepreneurs: Despite facing numerous challenges and a predominantly male-dominated industry, women entrepreneurs have made significant strides in the cannabis business world. Individuals like Wanda James, who co-founded the first African American-owned dispensary -Simply Pure, in Colorado, and Brooke Alpert, founder of the CBD-infused beauty line Daily Habit, have been instrumental in shaping the evolving landscape of the cannabis industry.
- Cultural Influencers: Women in the arts and culture have long embraced cannabis, challenging societal norms and stereotypes. Artists such as Georgia Peschel, who fused cannabis and creativity in her works, and musicians like Snoop Dogg’s protégé, rapper and activist Laganja Estranja, have used their platforms to advocate for cannabis legalization, inspire artistic expression, and promote social change.
The often untold history of women in the cannabis industry is a testament to their resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to the cause. From ancient traditions to modern activism, women have played significant roles in shaping cannabis culture, advocating for its medicinal benefits, and challenging legal barriers. It is imperative that we continue to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of these trailblazing women as we progress towards a more inclusive and equitable cannabis industry.