'Mary Janes: The Women of Weed': Do They Own the Future of Pot?

A Q&A with director Windy Borman, whose film speaks for itself.

Mary Janes: The Women of Weed is the latest film coming from documentary director Windy Borman. The director's two previous films, The Eyes of Thailand (2012) and The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia (2012), have won awards, opened minds, and celebrated the heroics that result when seemingly everyday people persevere in the good struggle. Borman's newest foray into steadfast action in difficult circumstances focuses on several female pioneers in the burgeoning legal-marijuana movement and economy.

From the Mary Janes homepage:

Mary Janes: The Women of Weed [is] a groundbreaking, feature-length documentary film that follows female “ganjapreneurs” as they navigate the budding US marijuana industry. Their experience with the medical, legal, technical, scientific and business aspects of cannabis paint a multidimensional portrait of the emerging and influential group of female pot entrepreneurs.

Participants include Dr. Amanda Reiman of the Drug Policy AllianceLindsay Robinson of Marijuana Policy Project, Taylor West of the National Cannabis Industry AssociationJill Lamoureux of SprkLabs, NORML veteran Madeline Martinez of World Famous Cannabis CafeSara Batterby of HiFi FarmsGenifer Murray of Carbon Blue ConsultingDr. Lakisha Jenkins of the Jenasis Medical Group, Wendy Mosher of New West Genetics, and an ongoing list that is rich in CEOs, founders and co-founders, executive directors, lab directors, directors of policy, directors of development, directors of government affairs, and owner operators.

Read through the insight and foresight coming from Mary Janes: The Women of Weed director Windy Borman in the Q&A below. Afterward, you will be keeping an eye out for her movie. 

KINDLAND: Since you are not a weed user, how did the subject matter of Mary Janes: The Women of Weed pull you in?

Windy Borman: I am the daughter of a doctor and nurse, and a product of the D.A.R.E. generation, who learned all drugs are bad, but particularly marijuana because it was a “gateway” drug. Throughout the years, I had ample opportunity to try marijuana, but never did. However, when I moved to Colorado in 2014—the same year recreational use of marijuana became legal—and started meeting successful women in the weed business, I knew I was perfectly positioned to share these female entrepreneurs’ stories and inspire domestic and global audiences about how gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability lead to greater success for all.

A good film inspires you to ask questions; a great film inspires you to create change.

KINDLAND: How do you answer critics who might say that advocacy filmmaking sacrifices objectivity?

Windy Borman: Even the most “objective” documentary filmmakers make decisions about which shots to use, similarly to how journalists decide which quotes to include in an article. The media you consume is from their point-of-view, how they see the facts. Everything is subjective.

The most interesting films to me have a strong point-of-view, a thesis, or at least a curiosity about a subject that the viewer can follow to the end. You don’t necessarily have to agree with the filmmaker’s perspective, but even if you don’t, perhaps that means you learned something about yourself.

A good film inspires you to ask questions; a great film inspires you to create change.

KINDLAND: Is there a through line between caregivers who build prosthetic legs for elephants that have stepped on land mines, and the people propelling the cannabis movement forward?

Windy Borman: I’ve always been intrigued by social issues, especially gender equality, social justice, environmental protection, education, and empowerment. And I’m attracted to stories about complex, female protagonists.

I became an elephant advocate after meeting Soraida Salwala (the Founder of FAE’s Elephant Hospital) in Thailand and seeing her dedication to help Motala and Mosha—two elephant landmine survivors—walk again on their own four legs. Their journey became The Eyes of Thailand.

I became “canna-curious” after meeting the women who are instilling corporate responsibility into the foundation of the cannabis industry. You can’t talk about cannabis without including gender equality, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Additionally, we’re at a critical point in the United States where we have the first female Presidential candidate from a major party, the Black Lives Matter movement, record-setting global temperatures for the second year in a row, and up to ten states are voting on marijuana legalization in 2016. Mary Janes: The Women of Weed synthesizes these four vital conversations.

KINDLAND: What qualities/concerns do women bring to the cannabis industry that men might not?

Windy Borman: Everyone is unique; so there isn’t necessarily a “feminine quality” that women bring to the cannabis industry. What women want is parity, an even playing field. There is no “glass ceiling” in the cannabis industry because everyone is figuring it out as they go. The opportunities are tremendous—but they are finite. Before outside forces try to take over and instill their ways of doing business, we have a limited amount of time to build a socially responsible cannabis industry that values diverse leadership, compassionate healthcare, social justice, and sustainability.

The cannabis movement was built on the back of social justice and compassionate healthcare that came out of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. 

From what I’ve seen, the men in the cannabis industry recognize the value of women leaders and share these guiding principles. Partially this is because they know that diverse business teams are more successful, and partially because the cannabis plant is female. It balances the divine feminine and the divine masculine; so the cannabis industry attracts more mindful and enlightened leaders as a whole.

KINDLAND: What apprehensions do the women of weed have about where cannabis capitalism might lead?

Windy Borman: The biggest threats to the cannabis industry as we know it are Big Pharma and Big Tobacco.

The cannabis movement was built on the back of social justice and compassionate healthcare that came out of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. The budding cannabis industry can’t lose sight of this as it transitions from activism to industry.

The cannabis industry needs to remain true to the movement’s goals. We need to reform the criminal (in)justice system. We need to rebuild trust in communities that are targeted for the majority of drug arrests. We need to support women, people of color, and LGBTQ business owners and involve them in the conversations about how the cannabis industry—and its tax revenue—can help heal these wounds and create a thriving community. And for an industry built around a plant, we need to protect the Earth.

Humans are consuming resources and polluting at a rate we’ve never seen before. It isn’t sustainable. If the cannabis industry can prove to be financially viable and environmentally sustainable—if it can have the “ triple bottom line”—then there are no excuses for other industries.