10 cannabis-advocating pop culture icons
It’s typically men (Jerry Garcia, Snoop Dogg, James Franco) who occupy the space of cannabis lovers in film, music, television and beyond – a stereotype that often leads to a stigma amongst female users. However, you don’t have to dig very deep to find a crew of inspirational women with a strong tradition of flaunting their enjoyment of flower.
Here are ten powerful female weed lovers and advocates, past and present, who have worked to change the image of cannabis.
Bad gal Riri has long been open about her cannabis use, as evidenced by her leaf-emblazoned fashion choices and the many times she’s been photographed, blunt in hand. Her nonchalance and DGAF attitude towards recreational use has ushered its image into new territory, one where cannabis is enjoyed by top-of-the-charts pop stars in designer gowns at the Met Gala. We’re still holding our breath for the launch of MaRihanna….
A picture of 1970s cool, Patti Smith defied gender expectations in the New York punk scene with her androgynous style and her intense performances. In her award-winning 2010 book Just Kids, Smith describes cannabis as her “secret pleasure,” and an integral component of her creative process. “I never thought of pot as a social drug. I liked to use it to work, to think and eventually for improvising with Lenny Kaye and Richard Sohl.”
In the 1990s, Margaret Cho broke stereotypes on All-American Girl, her show about a growing up in San Francisco in a household run by traditionally Korean parents. Today, the comic is an advocate for cannabis, referring to herself as “green and sober” because of her avoidance of alcohol. Cho also has her own strain of called Cho-G, a version of OG-Kush that’s imbued with lemon, woody pine and sour diesel flavors.
Sarah Silverman has an outspoken take on almost everything women face in our day-to-day, including cannabis use. In 2014, the comic introduced the E! audience to her liquid vape pen on the red carpet of the Emmy’s, making for a highly refreshing alternative to the Mani Cam. Silverman took to Twitter in response to the controversy she stirred, writing, “It's silly that having a puff of legal pot at the end of the night is news amongst a sea of scary drunk people.”
Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
It’s hard to imagine a night in spent binge-watching without our dear Abbi and Ilana of Broad City. Cannabis is often the third wheel in their New York misadventures, and early on in the series the duo introduced the concept of “nature’s pocket” as a place to store your stash, showing viewers that men aren’t the only ones struggling to find ways to smoke up on the regular.
With roles in Sister Act, Girl, Interrupted and How Stella Got Her Groove Back (not to mention more than a decade as a co-host on The View), Whoopi Goldberg is a legendary female figure in cinema. In 2016, the long-time cannabis user turned her focus to women’s health with the launch of Maya & Whoopi, a company that makes cannabis-infused products like edibles, tinctures, lotions and bath soaks aimed at alleviating female ailments like menstrual cramps.
Virginia-born rapper Missy Elliott was one of the first performers to marry the excess of hip-hop with a female viewpoint, incorporating her own sexual agency in a way that was brazen and unapologetic. Her frequently psychedelic visuals and street wear-meets-glam fashion sense have become iconic, not to mention her 2006 song “Pass That Dutch,” which is one of the most energetic stoner anthems of all time.
In 2003, seven years after her most famous role as a North Dakota cop in Fargo, Frances McDormand appeared on the cover of High Times magazine in a grey T-shirt featuring a green leaf. She was one of the first women featured on the cover who wasn’t an unnamed model in a bikini, and made her case for both recreational and medicinal use. McDormand’s appearance signalled a much-needed turning point in cannabis media coverage.
One of the most original voices of the 1960s hippie movement, Janis Joplin quickly gained a following for her haunting live performances — her rendition of “Summertime” stills sends chills down your spine five decades later. Joplin died of a heroin overdose at age 27, but she’s best remembered as a beautiful flower child who made an important female contribution to a powerful cultural movement. And her song "Mary Jane" describes a happy relationship with cannabis.
Now in her 70s, actor Susan Sarandon is as renowned for her pro-cannabis stance as she is for her roles in feminist Hollywood classics like Thelma and Louise and Little Women. Sarandon made headlines in 2013 when she revealed she enjoyed a toke before red-carpet appearances, and has stated that a cannabis-positive world would be more friendly than one fuelled by alcohol.
Story by Caitlin Agnew
Illustrations by Elena Boils
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