Meet the women who used their voices to change the conversation around cannabis
Women from all walks of life have enjoyed the healing, relaxing and restoring effects of cannabis since antiquity. From artists to activists and contemporary business women, these trailblazers advocated for the use of cannabis for recreational or medical use without the stigma associated with it – doing work behind the scenes in the cannabis industry or using their profile to push forward a more positive narrative of around consumption. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting powerful women who’ve helped to pave the way for cannabis normalization.
Beatie is a woman of many talents, who not only helped to develop the U.S. Weed Channel, the first cannabis television network, but is also the CEO of Green Wave Relations, sits on the board for OC NORML and is a part of the Women Grow’s Orange County chapter. She’s involved in outreach programs to help educate people about the healing power of cannabis to restore health and vitality and is currently working on a film called The Secret Life of Trimmers.
She’s known best as a highly-respected and revered poet and author, and Angelou was completely open about her use of cannabis, even writing about it in her memoir, Gather Together in My Name. Although she stopped smoking in her later years, Angelou is still remembered for her unabashed appreciation for the plant and the ways that it enhanced her life, from livening up dinner parties to helping her sort her thoughts on long, reflective walks.
Even though the anthropologist, author and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom had only tried cannabis once herself, she bravely testified in front of congress in favor of legalizing cannabis in 1969. With her knowledge through extensive research and study in countries around the world, she was able to offer insight into practices of other cultures who have safely and effectively utilized cannabis to for medicinal purposes, to boost mood and relieve stress.
This woman is no stranger to making history. In 2008, she was a part of Obama’s National Finance Committee during his first awe-inspiring Presidential win, and the following year she made history again by becoming the first black woman to open Simply Pure, a dispensary in Denver, Colorado. Her mission is to not only remove the stigma of consuming cannabis, expand decriminalization and legalization and fight against policies that unjustly affects people of color who use cannabis, but to continue to push for legislation that benefits people throughout the country.
Louisa May Alcott
It’s been said that art mimics life, and many scholars think that Alcott’s work may have been some insight into her own feelings and even potential use of cannabis at some point. In a short story called Perilous Play, as well as a novel called A Modern Mephistopheles, she writes about characters that indulged in hashish bon-bons and candies, experiencing a dreaminess and euphoria that drives the rest of the story. During that time, her work was considered pretty radical, especially for painting cannabis in such a positive light.
Martinez may have started from humble beginnings by collecting signatures for Oregon’s Ballot Measure 67, but since then she’s made major strides in the cannabis industry. Not only was she the first Latina woman elected to the NORML Board of Directors, she also opened the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Oregon, where medical patients could socialize and smoke cannabis together. She’s been a passionate advocate in the industry and has dedicated her life to ending prohibition throughout the United States.
Dr. Lakisha Jenkins
It makes perfect sense that this herbalist, naturopath and founder of a non-profit organization would specialize in cannabis education. After the untimely passing of daughter due to complications related to cancer, Jenkin’s has dedicated her life’s work to educating others and raising awareness about the alternative therapies that can help patients manage a range of symptoms without using pharmaceuticals. She takes a holistic approach to healing, pulling inspiration from her ancestral roots, and offers classes, sessions and natural health counseling.
As the co-founder of the BC Compassion club, the first medical cannabis dispensary in Canada, Black has advocated for the legal use of cannabis since she was in her 20s. Now, Black is the Director of Patient Education and Advocacy for Canopy Growth Corporation, the largest cannabis licensed producer in the world, and is still considered a pioneer who played a major role in shaping Vancouver’s cannabis scene.
Story by K. Astre