Before I landed in my current vocation of writing about weed, I worked so many different jobs that it’s a joke amongst my friends. I was a deckhand on a salmon tender for four glorious summers in Alaska. I was a tequila shot slinger on the dancefloor of a nightclub in London. I got really good at putting a condom on a banana when I toured high schools to talk to teens about safe sex. I acted in plays—a favorite of mine involved me dancing with my dead husband’s ashes in an urn. I’ve been a production assistant, data entry clerk, server, nanny, dog walker… Basically, since I left home at 16, I’ve done whatever it takes to pay the bills. I landed a job writing about weed at this publication over a decade ago, and since then, I’ve been fortunate to make a living by covering cannabis culture, trends, and news.
I’ve gotta say, of all the industries I’ve worked in, the weed industry has been the most frustrating when it comes to something that is going to make some of you grit your teeth—in my experience, it’s a deeply unpopular topic. I’m gonna go for it anyway.
Ok, so, guys, sexism and misogyny! Ugh, it’s exhausting. Let’s call it S&M to be more fun! Listen though, this is real: no matter how much S&M makes you roll your eyes, it’s something we need to talk about, because it’s getting worse.
We’re living in a tense time in every regard, at every level of society. It can feel relentless. I can trace my perpetual anxiety about things being fucked back to November 8, 2016—the night that California voters legalized cannabis for adult use. I was new to L.A., and I was proud to cover the election results for High Times. And we all know the other major news from that night: ye olde pussy-grabber Donald Trump won the presidency. And a ton of people in the cannabis community celebrated his win! I was gobsmacked, along with millions of women around the country.
For the next four years, we got stories like “Why President Trump Is Positioned To Be Marijuana’s Great Savior.” Well, let the record show that Trump’s attorney general Jeff Sessions unleashed federal prosecutors by rescinding the Cole Memo, his treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin refused to protect banks doing business with the cannabis industry, and zero federal reform took place on DJT’s watch.
Why is this b*tch whining about Trump in 2022, you may be asking yourself? Because—hit that joint you’re holding before continuing to read—in addition to his being a racist POS, and perpetuating the Big Lie, research shows that Trump made society more sexist.
Let’s focus that lens on the cannabis community. When I started writing about weed, and working at Cannabis Cups around the country, plenty of women were crushing it in the industry. It was a heady, optimistic time. In 2015, Newsweek published a piece titled “How Legal Marijuana Could Be the First Billion-Dollar Industry Not Dominated by Men.” I worked with many of those women, and I include myself when I say that we were buoyed up by the possibility of the Green Rush being a fair and equitable space. We believed that the Brave New World of Weed wasn’t going to be dominated by the usual players, and we wouldn’t have to fight for seats at the table; we were going to build the table together, and pull up any kind of chair/throne/beanbag we wanted (click the link for outdated stoner stereotype LOLs).
But women haven’t gained ground in the cannabis industry; along with minority executives and owners, we’ve lost it. Last year, the percentage of women holding executive positions in weed fell below the average of other U.S. industries. “Industry experts suggest that competitive markets tend to favor businesses with white men in ownership and leadership positions, primarily because of their established access to capital,” MJBiz reported. “More executives from mainstream sectors are opting into the cannabis industry as a new opportunity, accelerating the increase of white men in power positions.”
And wow, some of those guys are big mad at women! Just last week the CEO of an Oklahoma company was so rattled by a sales rep from a cannabis job platform including her pronouns in her email signature that he replied: “I don’t communicate with ignorant c*nts that cannot figure out what a woman is. You’re a she/her/hers? Please die so God can rectify his mistake.”
This is what I mean by things getting worse. Guys like this Hatey McHaterson feel emboldened in post-Trump America. When I started out covering cannabis, there were plenty of things to work on as far as equality and representation went, but I felt hopeful. Fast forward to a few months back, when a dude commented on a story I’d written that he was going to stuff his nuts into my mouth to shut me up. I’m fine, but I think we can do better when it comes to holding guys like this accountable. (Also, threatening to stuff your nuts into my mouth to shut me up is a crazy move that shows you have no concept of teeth.)
Last night, I ended up at an industry party where I chatted with three young women about how they felt about their place in the biz. Each of them had a story of dealing with some absolute fucking sexist nonsense. And each of them said they’re sticking with working in weed because they love it so much. We talked about our hopes for the future of cannabis, and how we should get to decide what it looks like. It shouldn’t be dumb Boys saying “no women allowed in the grow room,” as was alleged in a recent lawsuit. We shouldn’t have to worry about bullying and harassment. Wouldn’t it be fucking awesome if we made the weed industry the most inclusive, forward-thinking, beneficial environment for everyone who wants a seat at the table? Well, we can! But we sure can’t do it without men. And if you men want to know what you can do to make things better, start by supporting companies that support women. You don’t need to buy weed from assholes!
If you’re still reading, and you’re mad about what I’m saying, hit that joint again. Know that I am not mad at men. I am asking men to be mad on the behalf of all of the women who expect and deserve more from this industry and community. It doesn’t hurt you when we all do well; we’re not coming for your stake in the game. We’re saying that we can build something that’s truly new, with you. LFG.