Why a woman's experience at a dispensary can help move the cannabis industry forward
Legal cannabis has brought more women to the counter of their local pot shop for reasons too innumerable to count, and it highlights the significance of having women be better represented across the industry. If customers see people like them behind the counter, it will undoubtedly cultivate a feeling of ease that leads to a more successful transaction; and comfortable interactions will also lead to a better selection of cannabis products being offered to address women's health and wellness issues. To get a sense of the female consumer dispensary experience, we spoke to budtenders, educators and execs to gather insight on what women are asking for when it comes to cannabis.
Jairia Pass, co-founder and head of sales at Los Angeles’ THC Design, thinks having women at every level in a company strikes a balance that prevents erasure of different needs before it starts. “Up until recently, it’s been a really male-driven industry,” she notes. “But now, with more female presence, we can really unlock more of the plant’s potential, and how the world views it.”
Undoing social stigma will certainly unlocked commercial potential. Maria Fernanda Parker Vizcaino, the shift lead at Grass Roots in San Francisco, knew that our ancient love of cannabis was bound to resurface. “Historically, cannabis has been cultivated for its strength and medicinal properties for thousands of years," she notes. "I think its parallel roots with human activity demands a certain level of attention.”
So, what are women using cannabis for in 2018? Vizcaino shares what Bay Area women ask when they come to her spot. “I think most women are looking for some sort of relief when they come to the club," she says. "‘How could I get relief in (blank) area of my life?’ I try my best to listen to every person with a new ear and take it from there.”
In Oregon, another adult-use legalized state, the stigma continues to diminish, and every day women are letting curiosity lead them towards cannabis to improve some aspect of their life. Chrissy Hadar, founder of Oregrown, is seeing an uptick in a certain demographic. “At our Oregrown flagship dispensary in Bend, we are seeing more and more college-educated women in their thirties coming into our shop for the first time, looking to explore cannabis to help them cope with anxiety, pain, depression and insomnia,” she says.
Health and wellness are key areas of interest for everyone when it comes to cannabis consumption, but guiding woman through a purchase means having the appropriate, knowledgeable staff on hand to address their specific concerns. Named as Portland’s Best Budtender of 2016, Emma Chasen is a cannabis educator working to bringing scientific fundamentals and new developments to the public. “When I was working at a dispensary and helping to check people in at the front window, a lot of female customers would ask if there was a knowledgeable woman on staff that they could speak to,” she says. “Oftentimes I ended up being that woman for female customers. Purchasing cannabis can be a very vulnerable experience, and women don’t necessarily want to ask a dude for product recommendations for menstrual cramps or increased sex drive or relief from constant mom duties.”
To this end, Las Vegas budtender Alexandria Anna Manuli of Reef Dispensaries knows that the market for products that cater specifically to women is massive. "I would love to see more companies [offering] products that help with women's menstrual cycles; I have a lot of female patients that ask me about that. Also, it would be awesome to see more skin products. CBD helps with anti-aging and has multiple other benefits. It'd be cool to see more CBD companies make a wider range of skin products.”
While what’s on offer at dispensaries has evolved to better suit the needs of female consumers looking for pain relief, sleep aid and more, women can do their part to further improve and enhance the selection by telling budtenders what they desire to see in the cannabis space. After all, don’t ask, don’t get.
Story by Danielle Guercio