California Women Are Reclaiming the Feminine Roots of Cannabis
Cannabis feminism is a whole new approach to cannabis and to feminism.
Cannabis Feminist is a community for both women and men who believe in the femininity of cannabis. Founded by Jessica Assaf in California, the Cannabis Feminist mission is to create a new cannabis culture where all women feel comfortable exploring the benefits of the plant. Assaf's cannabis circles and blog educate women about cannabis, empowers women to take leadership roles in the emerging industry, and supports companies making cannabis products that keep the needs, values, and concerns of women foremost in mind.
KINDLAND: What is the Cannabis Feminist?
Jessica Assaf: Cannabis Feminism is my theory that the power of cannabis lies in its femininity. When I moved to Los Angeles a few months ago to build a cannabis brand, I started doing all this research to better understand the plant and the origin of the stigmas associated with it. I was in bed smoking a joint when I read the line:
"In order to bloom, single female flower must come together to form the buds."
'There is all of this inherent femininity in cannabis that no one talks about.'
That's when it hit me that the biology of cannabis is a metaphor for what needs to happen in the industry. There is all of this inherent femininity in cannabis that no one talks about. We only consume the female flower. There are compounds in cannabis similar to the female hormone, estrogen. It was the patriarchal political system that reclassified cannabis from a medicine to a drug. Now I believe that women need to reclaim the femininity of cannabis in order to bring it back to its life-nurturing potential.
Cannabis Feminism is different than feminism. It's not about women fighting for equal rights or opportunities in cannabis; it’s the understanding that the femininity of cannabis alone is what makes it so powerful. We as women can collectively change the face of cannabis, eliminate the stigmas, create a new cannabis culture, and lead the industry with healthy products.
Men are Cannabis Feminists if they agree that women can and should lead the way in developing higher standards for cannabis. This is an opportunity to explore cannabis as a gateway for a new feminism, and it's already happening. Compared to every other industry, the highest percentage of female executives are in cannabis. If we do this right, and if we do this right now, cannabis can be the first billion-dollar industry run by women.
KINDLAND: What inspired you to create Cannabis Feminist?
Jessica Assaf: I have spent the past ten years locked in the "cannabis closet," always rolling joints by myself at parties and events, consuming alone and often mocked by my friends because they could always tell by my red eyes what I just did. After I graduated from Harvard Business School, I now have the credentials and insight to help shift perception on what it means to be a cannabis advocate and enthusiast. I want to use my experience to open people's minds to the vast benefits of the plant and show people that cannabis can be a motivator, not a detractor. In many ways cannabis has been my number one cheerleader through it all, both personally and professionally.
Though there are tons of cannabis events all the time in California, I couldn't find any organized opportunities for women to sit down, smoke joints and just talk.
I started Cannabis Feminist to create a platform to build communities of women and men who want to feminize cannabis culture. To start, I decided to host cannabis women's circles where women gather together to test cannabis products and talk about how we feel. Though there are tons of cannabis events all the time in California, I couldn't find any organized opportunities for women to sit down, smoke joints and just talk. It sounds so basic, but it didn't really exist.
So I went to my local dispensary to buy some flowers and edibles and hosted the first cannabis women's circle at my friend's tea house in Venice. The room was packed with women of all ages and backgrounds, including doctors, women with illnesses who are self-medicating, a cannabis matchmaker, cannabis business owners, and even some women who had found me on Instagram. It was magical, like the beginning of a movement.
KINDLAND: How does feminism play a role in cannabis culture?
Jessica Assaf: In my mind, feminism does not yet play enough of a role in cannabis culture. The "stoner" image is typically hyper-masculine, dazed and confused, and out of our comfort zone. We need to sophisticate and elevate cannabis culture so that it is more feminine and inviting. But what that requires is a shift in consciousness, perception, and even language. It's like we need to create an entirely new cannabis vocabulary, moving away from words like pot, weed and stoner that still make cannabis seem like a drug. By hosting these cannabis women's circles and making the experience classy and comfortable, I hope to feminize the cannabis experience and thus create an environment that makes everyone feel welcome.
KINDLAND: How do you educate women about cannabis?
Jessica Assaf: I educate women (and men) about cannabis through my blog on Cannabis Feminist and in person at events. I am also the cannabis columnist for Well+Good, which is critical because it enables me to reach women who do not yet understand the connection between cannabis and health. My mission is to rebrand cannabis as a health and wellness product. I am preparing to launch my own line of cannabis beauty and wellness products that modernize the delivery mechanism so smoking is not at all part of the cannabis experience. I want to show women and men that with the right ingredients and packaging, cannabis can truly be a beautiful, revolutionary health product.
KINDLAND: What is a Cannabis Feminist circle like?
Jessica Assaf: Every cannabis women's circle is different, but there are certainly some consistent elements. All circles are hosted in a private, intimate, feminine space so everyone feels comfortable and safe. I always serve organic mangos before we begin. Mangos contain terpenes that extend the euphoric feeling of the cannabis experience. This ritual allows me to educate women about terpenes and the body's endocannabinoid system. I introduce the theory of Cannabis Feminism and share my personal relationship with cannabis. Then I invite the group to introduce themselves while we pass around joints and other cannabis products.
Cannabis serves as the catalyst for meaningful conversations and connections between women and the world. This is only the beginning. Now I want to work with women all around the country to help them host their own circles.