Written by Melissa Hutell and Mica Cruz
Weed and women have a long history together. During humankind’s earliest years, men in tribes took the roles of hunters while women typically took on the role of caregivers and herbal healers, using many different plants—including cannabis.
One of the first female sociologists, Harriet Martineau—also an activist, author and great great great grandmother of Kate Middleton—wrote about cannabis during her travels in the 19th century. According to Vice’s David Bienenstock, “Martineau once wrote of her travels in the desert that ale provided “the greatest possible refreshment, except the chibouque [a hash pipe].” He continues, “She also related how since Jewish women were not allowed to smoke cannabis on the Sabbath, Arab women would blow smoke at them.”
But for almost a century during prohibition, the world of weed was dominated by men, rendering it dark and mysterious to the rest of us.
Today, as the stigma starts to fade, women have become one of the quickest growing sectors of cannabis consumers. That is, in part, because the cannabis movement has opened doors for women to find wellness, and success in the industry. That’s why The Emerald is running down our top five reasons why women should join in on the circle—so light up and pass it to your gal pal on the left!
Weed makes sex better
Many who have had sex while high can testify—sex on weed is superior! It makes you more aware of physicalsensations while simultaneously feeling less self conscious.
In a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 65% of women reported that cannabis enhanced their sexual experience. One reason may be due to cannabis’ ability to reduce anxiety.
When women are stressed or anxious, it infers with their libido. This is why Dr. Monica Grover, who is board certified in Family Medicine and Gynecology, believes cannabis can enhance sex drives. Dr. Grover told Forbes, “Consumption of small quantities [of marijuana] prior to sex may increase libido in female patients, which in turn
can release positive endorphins and increase vaginal lubrication.”
This may only be short term, as Dr. Grover explains cannabis can increase anxiety over the long term. So using
cannabis sparingly (or right before sexy time) may be most helpful for anyone looking for a little extra help getting in the mood.
Cannabis’ aphrodisiac properties come from its sensation increasing potential. When partaking of THC infused products, the CB1 receptors in our brains are activated. As Dr. Mitch Earleywine, professor of psychology at SUNY Albany told New York Magazine, CB1 receptors in our nervous system “seem to be involved in improved tactile sensations and general euphoria.”
Reduces Menstrual Cramps and Other Symptoms Including PMS (Premenstrual syndrome)
Cannabis has played a role in the treatment of menstrual cramps and symptoms of PMS for centuries. Queen Victoria famously used cannabis back in 1890 to ease menstrual pain. Her majesty’s private doctor, Sir J. Russell Reynolds, expressed in one of his books that cannabis is “one of the most valuable medicines we possess,” and prescribed Queen Victoria medicinal cannabis tinctures.
Cramping is a result of hormones that trigger the uterine muscles to contract. Research, including data presented by authors Alison Mack and Janet E. Joy in their book Marijuana as Medicine: The Science Beyond Controversy, show cannabis has potential to relieve pain and calm muscle spasticity in both human and animal trials.
A groundbreaking study published in The Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2012 showed a reduction in symptoms, including pain in participants with treatment-resistant spasticity after smoking cannabis.
Symptoms of PMS also occur when progesterone and estrogen levels fluctuate, which can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability. Exactly how cannabis affects mood is unknown, however, we do know that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which is involved in regulating many systems in our body, including mood, according to research published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.
Might Relieve Anxiety When Taken in Low Doses
Scientists at Washington State University published a study in the Journal of Affective Disorders that found that smoking cannabis can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress in the short term. However, the same study also noted that effects seem to dissipate over time and may exacerbate symptoms with long term use (as Dr. Grover also explained).
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA), women are almost twice as likely to suffer from anxiety than men. This may be, in part, because of the differences in brain chemistry and hormone fluctuations. According to the ADAA, “Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain.” The association also reports that, “The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is activated more readily in women and stays activated longer than men, partly as a result of the action of estrogen and progesterone.”
Due to the endocannabinoid system’s role in regulating our body’s endocrine and nervous systems, cannabis may be particularly effective at treating mood related disorders—like depression, stress, and anxiety.
Challenging Stereotypes, and Breaking the Status Quo
Have you heard of Stiletto Stoners? They’re smart, successful ladies who choose weed over wine to relax at the end of a busy workday. In an article published in Marie Claire, author Yael Kohen describes the emerging segment of cannabis consumers; “By all outward appearances, they are card-carrying, type A workaholics who just happen to prefer kicking back with a blunt instead of a bottle.”
NORML Women’s Alliance, a pro-cannabis reform organization, launched a campaign in partnership with Pot Couture in hopes of showing the new face of cannabis are well dressed, professional women.
Campaigns like these along with recent legalization have seen women from all walks of life come out of the cannabis closet and proudly say that they smoke weed to relieve stress after a long day.
Women are also finding cannabis to open them up socially. In an interview with Vice, cannabis activist and author Ellen Komp explains that females feel more comfortable with cannabis usage. “Men often tend to socialize around alcohol and violent sporting events, and women sometimes feel threatened in environments like that,” she tells Vice. “So starting with interpersonal relations and extrapolating out from there, I believe women are typically safer and more comfortable in a situation where pot smoking is going on than heavy drinking.”
It makes for great, fun and more open conversations with friends
Smoking cannabis is said to have introspective effects, although these reports are purely anecdotal. Introspection is the examination of one’s own mental and emotional processes. The more we analyze our reality, the more we can openly question it.
Rachel Ginsberg, a yoga teacher in Brooklyn, told the Yoga Journal that cannabis helps her bring her spiritual and physical selves together. “I find that when I’m high, it’s easier for me to let go of a lot of the things that are regularly occupying my monkey-mind,” she continued. “For me, it’s a matter of helping me get into a deeper, more meditative space where I can tune into my body and give myself what I actually need.”
For many others, like Dee Dussault, author of Ganja Yoga the use of cannabis can help aid meditation and mindfulness. According to UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC):
“Significant research has shown mindfulness to address health issues such as lower blood pressure and boost the immune system; increase attention and focus, including aid those suffering from ADHD; help with difficult mental states such as anxiety and depression, fostering well-being and less emotional reactivity; and thicken the brain in areas in charge of decision making, emotional flexibility, and empathy.”
As we learn more about the cannabis plant and its effects on the human body, we may also find more ways in which the cannabis plant is tailored for women, as well as their professional and personal needs.