3 Women in Cannabis You Should Know About
According to a survey done by Marijuana Business Daily, women in cannabis represent around 36% of leadership positions. This may not sound like much, but when compared to the less than 5% of CEO positions women occupy in corporate America, it’s clear that something special is happening in our industry. And we’re proud of it. In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking a look at 3 key leaders that have been essential to paving the way for females in flower.
A Brief History of Women and Weed
We thought it would be worth mentioning that women have a longstanding harmonious relationship with cannabis dating back as far as 700 BC; Mesopatamian women were said to create healing drinks containing mint, saffron and hemp. Fast forward to 1400 BC, in ancient Egypt a beloved Pharaoh by the name Hatshepsut, one of just seven female Pharaohs throughout history, was said to be using cannabis for menstrual cramps, indicating the general female population of Egypt was likely hip on hemp. She’s not the only ruler to do so, as Queen Victoria was prescribed Cannabis Tincture by her physician for her cramps and post-childbirth pain in the 18th century.
Jumping ahead to our modern day pioneers, first up on the list is someone who made perhaps the most significant discovery in the history of scientific cannabis research.
1. Allyn Howlett
How does marijuana affect the brain? Before Dr. Howlett, a professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest University, the answer was “no one really knows.” In 1988, after Pfizer abandoned a project they were working on to research the endocannabinoid system, Howlett was left with a load of useful resources to conduct her own study after requesting their unwanted data. With no monetary or pharmaceutical motive, she led a team that discovered the CB1 receptor, a component of the nervous system which interacts with cannabis compounds to enable effects like pain relief and reduced inflammation. This revolutionary discovery allowed researchers to begin working to scientifically verify medicinal uses of marijuana which has helped to legitimize cannabis as a serious healthcare tool and in the process, give further justification to the argument of legalization. In fact, it took only eight years after Dr. Howlett’s work was published for weed to be legalized for medicinal use in California, the first state to do so. It almost can’t be put into words how much Alynn Howlett has helped to progress the world of weed, were it not for her, we may still be in the dark ages of cannabis research, arguing over whether or not cancer patients should be allowed to utilize weed for pain. If you’re reading this, we love you Dr. Howlett.
2. Wanda James
Wanda is considered by many as the prime example for powerful women in cannabis. After working for Obama’s National Finance Committee, she made herself a critical player in the passing of Amendment 64, which successfully legalized marijuana in Colorado. Then, she opened her own dispensary, Simply Beauty, making herself the first African-American dispensary owner ever.
"Things like 'first' and 'only' just motivate me to want to open up the floodgates."
3. Margaret Mead
Margaret Mead was the most famous anthropologist in the world during the 1960s, largely credited with sparking the sexual revolution which is thought to have helped the West lose the rigidness of the 1950s and develop a more sex positive attitude. When she wasn’t liberating the primal collective consciousness, Mead also worked as an activist for the second wave of feminism and eventually, the War on Drugs. Most iconically, in a 1969 testimony to the U.S Senate on the subject of prohibition, Mead called out the hypocrisy of the Senators by saying,
“You have the adult standing with a cocktail in one hand and a cigarette in another saying “I would beat the —- out of any child of mine who ever smoked pot."
In a time when the voice of reason was entirely absent in conversations of drug policy, Mead was a sign of hope. She spoke for the minority that saw the harms that were to come from the War on Drugs and took a strong, unpopular stance. In a 1970 interview with Newsweek, Mead was quoted with another perfect sentiment,
“We occasionally find a society that will reject anything that leads to any kind of ecstatic state or of people ever getting outside of themselves.”
In an industry where there have been countless political and cultural setbacks, it’s inspiring to learn about trailblazing women that have helped mitigate these hindrances. As the world of cannabis continues to evolve rapidly, one thing that can be guaranteed is the fact that women will continue shattering glass ceilings. Historically, women and cannabis have had a natural and mutually beneficial coexistence, thus we should all continue to acknowledge and promote this positive and helpful trend.