It’s safe to say that when most of us think of the cannabis industry and cannabis consumers, we almost look at it in the same way we look at the beer industry: bearded white men. One group just may hold a lager in their hand instead of a joint. Why do we think like this? Well, think of all of the images that we have of large scale-cultivation operations from television and film. We see a white guy, eyes-bloodshot, wearing a baja hoodie. Whenever it was any other race, typically Black or Latinx, they’re tatted up, living in some kind of concrete jungle. You’d rarely see any women in the mix, except as some kind of drug dealer support partner or a ball and chain. Well, if you still maintain this ideology there’s something deeper going on in your brain that you may need to have sorted out because women are now a huge part of the cannabis industry.
In July, NBC News released a piece, The future of cannabis is female: Gen Z women are fastest growing consumers of legal weed. The impact is so strong that it has altered branding. Even here at SLS NYC, our COO Ari Fleishman created her own brand Women X Weed because she felt that none of the products or packaging in the industry suited her aesthetic. And I get that. When shopping around for something, think of all of the ways in which “it speaks to me” lowers our bank account. Gen Z women had the fastest growth in legal cannabis year-to-year sales during pandemic, according a study by Ben Popkan from cannabis analytics firm, Headset.
Makes sense though? For so many reasons. Not trying to stand up on a soapbox and tear down gender walls but many of the thrills that men seek women do too. Just may not be as popular for them to be publicly fond of these activities. There were women who already didn’t care about that and pandemic certainly shitted on whatever we perceived about our precious society to be. So overwhelmed Moms started taking edibles and laughing their asses off at TikTok videos (I know this because I have a mom in my running group and I give her edibles and this is her favorite activity), artsy women started smoking because they could focus more on creative projects, some needed something other than their meds to get them through the anxiety-filled day or others just like the high.
Women aren’t just participating as consumers, they’re becoming operators as well. In late December, the magazine, The Cut released a piece, Imagine a Cannabis Culture That Isn’t Just for Bros about a family-owned medical retailer in New York that is continuing to scale and is ran by the women in the family, with the men in more support roles. In New Mexico, Vana LLC, which is a group-owned by a team of South Asian women just won one of New Mexico’s first manufacturing licenses. They will be selling gummies and chocolates. They also were able to lock in a cultivation license which means they’ll be able to grow up to 892 plants. That figure can increase up to 1, 496 plants. They even have retail stores in the works, which means New Mexico might be looking at one of its newest cannabis power players.
We’ve been preaching (some of us at least) about an inclusive society this entire time. There’s an opportunity here with cannabis. We can’t fuck this up (even though we probably will).