For thousands of years, humans have used cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Yet, despite its long history of use, the plant’s legality has only recently been recognized in many parts of the world.
This has led to a lack of awareness about the important role that women have played in cannabis history. And seeing as cannabis is a female plant, we think the women behind the movement deserve more honor.
Yes, March is Women’s History Month, but every day we should acknowledge the powerful role women have played in cannabis advocacy and the drive for the end of prohibition.
A Brief History of Women and Cannabis
Women have been using cannabis for medicinal purposes for centuries. In ancient Egypt, women used cannabis to alleviate the pain of childbirth. In ancient China, women used it to treat menstrual cramps. Even Queen Victoria is said to have used it to ease her menstrual pain and help her son’s epilepsy.
In the hemp industry, women have also been instrumental. During World War II, when men were away fighting, women were encouraged to grow hemp to support the war effort. In addition, they played a significant role in keeping the industry alive by using their fibers to create rope, clothing, and paper.
However, during the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s, women truly made their mark on the cannabis industry. Feminist activists, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, fought for legalizing cannabis as a matter of women’s rights. They believed that women should have the right to choose what they put into their bodies, including cannabis as food and medicine.
These women paved the way for the current state of the cannabis industry. Today, women are leaders in the cannabis industry, from owning dispensaries to founding hemp companies. They continue to make significant contributions to the industry and have shown that cannabis can be a tool for female empowerment.
The history of cannabis is a story of resilience and determination, with women playing a crucial role in shaping its path. Their contributions have been overlooked for far too long. Now it’s time to recognize their efforts and give them the credit they deserve. Women have used cannabis for centuries to heal, create, and fight for their rights. It’s time for the world to acknowledge their impact and embrace the full potential of this remarkable female plant.
14 Women of Resilience: Shaping the Path of Cannabis History
From bakers to activists, doctors, and chemists, these women are nothing short of inspirational to the entire cannabis movement. We thank them today, and every day, for their impactful contributions to our beloved plant.
Mary Jane Rathbun
Mary Jane Rathbun, better known as “Brownie Mary,” was a compassionate caregiver and advocated for medical marijuana patients in San Francisco during the 1980s. She began baking cannabis-infused brownies for AIDS patients with severe symptoms and pain. Despite facing legal consequences for her actions, Brownie Mary continued to provide her baked goods to those in need until her passing in 1999. Her selfless dedication to the medicinal benefits of cannabis helped to pave the way for the legalization of medical marijuana.
Sirita Wright is an award-winning cannabis advocate, co-founder, and chief marketing officer of EstroHaze, a media company that offers women of color a platform to explore the diverse career and lifestyle opportunities available in the cannabis industry. Wright noticed a lack of representation of black women and other minority women in cannabis, which inspired her to educate others about this space. Wright sees the legal cannabis industry as a chance for people of color to create generational wealth.
Dr. Chanda Macias
Dr. Chanda Macias is a leading figure in the medical marijuana-cannabis industry with a strong scientific background in cancer research from the Howard University Cancer Center. She holds an MBA and PhD from Howard University and is the CEO/Chair of Women Grow. Through her advocacy and leadership, Dr. Macias has helped to break down barriers and promote diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry.
Madeline Martinez is a cannabis activist who founded the World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon. She has been a vocal advocate for the legalization of cannabis and has fought tirelessly for the rights of patients and consumers. Her work has helped to normalize cannabis use and promote its benefits as a medicine and a recreational substance.
Khadijah Adams is an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the cannabis industry, particularly for Black-owned businesses. She co-authored The Minority Report, and created The GreenStreet Academy. Adams also founded Girl Get That Money in 2020, a coaching and consultancy movement empowering women in business. Her mission is to raise awareness about issues faced by communities of color and promote financial independence and diversity in the cannabis industry.
Dr. Ester Fride
Dr. Ester Fride is a pioneering scientist who has dedicated her career to studying the endocannabinoid system and the medical benefits of cannabis. Her research has led to a greater understanding of the way that cannabinoids interact with the human body. These studies have helped to pave the way for the development of new cannabis-based therapies.
Priscilla Vilchis, known as the ‘Queen of Cannabis,’ is a trailblazer in the legal cannabis industry. She was one of the first people in Los Angeles County to obtain a license when California legalized cannabis. Vilchis is also the youngest minority woman in Nevada to be licensed in the industry. She is the CEO of Premium Produce, a cannabis cultivation and processing company with delivery and distribution licenses in California, operating in Las Vegas and Lynwood. As a Latina entrepreneur, Vilchis has paved the way for other women of color to enter the industry and become successful cannabis business owners.
Rachel K. Gillette
Rachel K. Gillette is a lawyer and advocate who has worked to help legalize cannabis in Colorado and other states. She has been instrumental in shaping cannabis policy and has helped create a legal framework for the industry. Her dedication to fighting for the rights of cannabis users and businesses is truly inspiring.
Elvy Musikka is a medical marijuana patient receiving legal cannabis from the government for over 30 years. She has been a vocal advocate for the medical benefits of cannabis and has shared her story with others to help educate and inform the public. Her courage and dedication to spreading awareness about the benefits of cannabis have been genuinely inspiring.
Megon Dee is a cannabis chef, educator, and consultant who co-founded Oracle Infused, a hemp-derived CBD wellness and personal care brand. After facing seven cannabis-related charges, Dee moved to Portland, Oregon and had her record expunged. She advanced her knowledge by working in a cannabis kitchen, where she learned about the plant’s medicinal properties. She later founded Cannacademy, a series of free online courses educating people about cannabis and its healing properties.
Wanda James is a cannabis entrepreneur who founded Simply Pure, one of the first Black-owned cannabis dispensaries in the United States. She has been a vocal advocate for diversity and equality in cannabis and has worked to create opportunities for marginalized communities to enter the industry. Her commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable cannabis industry is truly inspiring.
Dr. Adie Rae (Wilson-Poe)
Dr. Adie Rae (Wilson-Poe) is a neuroscientist who has dedicated her career to studying the effects of cannabis on the brain. Her research has helped to demystify some of the misconceptions surrounding cannabis use and has shed light on the potential benefits of cannabis for treating a range of conditions. Dr. Poe was part of a group of Oregon researchers who recently published a fascinating report about how aroma determines the effects of cannabis more than THC or other cannabinoids.
Allyn Howlett is a pharmacologist who helped to discover the endocannabinoid system, a complex signaling network that regulates a wide range of physiological processes. Her groundbreaking research has helped to establish the scientific basis for the medical benefits of cannabis. This work paved the way for many new therapies and treatments.
Margaret Mead was a cultural anthropologist interested in how different societies approached drug use and drug policy. Her work helped to shed light on the cultural and social factors that shape our attitudes toward drugs and has been influential in shaping drug policy in the United States and beyond. Her legacy as a pioneering social scientist and advocate for drug policy reform is unforgettable.
Women in Cannabis: From Ancient Healing to Modern Leadership
As we reflect on the remarkable contributions of women to the cannabis industry, let us be inspired by their resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to their beliefs. Let us honor their legacy by pushing for progress, breaking down barriers, and advocating for equality. And let us always remember that change is possible, no matter how difficult or daunting the journey may seem.
The women who came before us have shown us the way, and it is up to us to carry their torch and light the path for future generations. Let us continue to be a force for positive change in the cannabis industry and beyond. Together, we can create a brighter future where everyone has the freedom to use cannabis for their healing and empowerment.