Illustration by Genevieve Pizzale Image by: Pexels
Despite its impending legalization, cannabis continues to be something many people aren't open about using for fear of judgement. Let's change that.
Like many teenage girls, I was introduced to cannabis through a group of friends, smoking my first joint in my parent’s garage while they were away at the cottage. I don’t really know if I got high that night, but marijuana would soon have a pretty steady presence in my life. If someone was passing a joint around, I would, for better or worse, smoke it.
How frequently I partook started to wane as I got older, simply because of supply. If friends had it, I was in. However, I had stopped feeling comfortable buying baggies of whatever strain someone had on hand, so that meant I consumed less.
When I met my husband in 2011, I started a great relationship with his parents (my in-laws are amazing!). At that point his father had his medical license to smoke. He had been misdiagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig disease), the doctors not knowing that his pain was coming from fasciculations in his muscles that were increasing in intensity as he got older. The first time he smoked a joint, about 12 years ago at the recommendation of a friend, all his symptoms went away.
Cannabis as a health salve was not something that I was fully aware of before I met my father-in-law. It was then I started paying more attention to studies and news clippings about cannabis. I also became more open about my own use. If my in-laws weren’t going to judge me, I didn’t really care what anyone else thought.
In 2017 I was asked to be an ambassador for a cannabis company, and I jumped at the chance. Aside from one concerned close friend (she wondered if it would affect me getting freelance work), I had the support of my people. And that included my mother, who has always maintained that she only smoked once, and felt out of control, so she never smoked again (I recently found out my dad took her to see A Clockwork Orange, so maybe it wasn’t just the weed?).
On a press trip with the company I am an ambassador for, I learned so much new information about cannabis—and I had fancied myself as someone in the know. This really opened me up to the fact that there is a lot for everyone to learn, and there will continue to be, especially as recreational use is legalized. At one recent industry event, cannabis strains were likened to wine varietals—there are many versions of even the same strain. And each strain will affect different people in different ways.
Funnily enough, my friend’s concern turned out to not be an issue, in fact quite the opposite. In April 2018, I launched a podcast and events company, HIGHTEA, with a good friend of mine, focusing on helping to break the stigma surrounding weed, especially for women. And on the day I got this assignment, it was actually my second cannabis-related assignment of the day.
However, I know I am lucky. I have people in my life who do not judge me for this choice. I now have women reaching out to me asking for more information on CBD versus THC, what the benefits are, and what my favourite strain is.
But many other women are not so fortunate. Just this week, I spoke to a friend who lost out on a business deal because of her pro-cannabis stance. And I have had pals tell me about being judged by their peers, family and society at large. One glaring issue that I am well aware of, as well, is that I am a white woman. Statistics in Canada show that minorities are disproportionally arrested and jailed for even minor cannabis infractions. And the government has not yet released any information on how or when those with cannabis charges will be released or pardoned.
The stigma surrounding cannabis is still very much alive, even though, as recent statistics from Lift & Co. state, 33 per cent of females they surveyed indulged regularly, with the most popular methods of consumption being joints and edibles.
I hope that I can help break down those barriers, for everyone, by being open about my own use and spurring an honest discussion. And I hope that I can help people take a step toward responsible consumption, as I truly believe that this magical plant (along with all the badass women in this industry who are currently shifting the tide away from the patriarchy!), will help to change and, perhaps, heal the world.