The face of cannabis is changing. It’s time the UK caught up! Thanks to the loosening of regulations around the world and a new narrative, carved out by people who love and understand the plant and want you to as well, the idea that enjoying bud is still only for teenage boys and hippies is well out of date. Today, 2 in 5 women in America use cannabis-based products, with the pandemic spurring on a whopping 46% increase in professionals who consume while working from home. While cannabis is still not available legally without a prescription in the UK, that doesn’t mean people aren’t using it. In fact, we know that around 1.5 million people use cannabis from the illicit market for medicinal purposes, and recreationally that’s going to be considerably more.
Many of these users are women – cultured, adult, intelligent women with disposable income and taste. But looking at the cannabis paraphernalia, apparel and lifestyle products available on the market (all of which is of course completely legal), you’d never guess it.
We’re still stuck in the dark ages, with almost everything you can buy practically reeking of a teenage boy’s bedroom or nag champa incense through your computer (where most shopping takes place). There’s still a place for these markets, no doubt. But there’s a desperate demand for high quality, beautiful cannabis-themed products that is not being met. This is not only hugely remiss, given the spending habits of women, but only helps to keep the outdated view of cannabis well and truly entrenched on our backwards little island.
Women are big spenders
Globally, women spend an estimated $31.8 trillion a year. We account for over 70% of all household spending across all category types, amounting to a staggering £205 billion of the UK’s total economy. Again, looking at America as our cannabis consumer model, the Brightfield Group reported the share of women cannabis users is rising steadily, hitting 51% by the first quarter of 2021.
Considering that the male to female ratio in the UK is approximately 97.67 males per 100 females, we can assume that of the 1.5 – 2 million who use cannabis at least once a month, around half are women.
So where, oh where, are all the cannabis brands targeting us?
There’s plenty in the world of CBD, which is smart considering that Women make 90% of household healthcare decisions. (Source: Yankelovich Monitor, M2W Conference) and 93% of OTC pharmaceutical purchases (Source: Tom Peters, in the forward to “Marketing to Women”, by Marti Barletta). This, paired with our $375 billion global spend on health and $131 billion on mental wellness, makes for a pretty hefty chunk of change. In 2018, the global wellness market was worth $4.2 trillion and has continued to grow, with women controlling about 85 percent of it.
Cannabis culture is changing
If you look at America and Canada, where enjoying cannabis is now deemed by many as acceptable as enjoying a glass of wine, or taking paracetamol (depending on your reason for consuming), there’s a vast selection of cannabis garb for women. It’s awesome and a lot of it is seriously high end too – none of this cheap rubbish aimed at people with no money. This is cannabis for women who run the world, laying waste to the old stereotype that cannabis fans are lazy.
The Flower by Edie Parker range is iconic, boasting eye-popping pastels and a timeless retro vibe across their range of smoking accessories. Sugar High Love Stoned, Stoned Immaculate and The Jane Parade offer super cute cannabis apparel. House of Puff, Yew Yew, Rompotodo and Burning Love are the ultimate girly head shops, with a beautiful array of dreamy ceramics and glassware.
For me, as a woman, anything less doesn’t represent what cannabis means to me. This is not some sort of dirty habit to be hidden away. It doesn’t have to feel grungy and dirty. Not everything has to be black and emblazoned with Bob Marley or some nod to predictable stoner culture. This is a celebration of a new era of out it the open cannabis use that feels good in every respect.
Why are women being ignored?
Despite the rise in female cannabis users and cannabis experts around the world, women are still not properly accepted in the industry. Forbes recently reported that out of 166 cannabis companies surveyed, 74% have 10 or fewer female-identifying employees. The report adds. “Although 44 percent of the surveyed companies have 10 or fewer total employees, there is still much more room at the table for female-identifying individuals to step in and take charge, particularly in leadership roles.”
However, women are starting to pave the way for themselves – as has been the case throughout history. Groups such as Women in Medical Cannabis Leadership, which is made up of female pioneers like Neuroscientist and Endocannabinoidologist Viola Brugnatelli, Vice Chair of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, Dr Dani Gordon, and director of the Maple Tree Consultancy, Hannah Deacon, are making huge waves in the cannabis industry.
This is vital, considering it was over a hundred years after the opening of the first medical schools that women were even allowed to study medicine. With so many incredible women leading the way in cannabis medicine and campaigning for legislative change in the UK, it seems only right that we should be catered to.
That’s not to say all female-focused cannabis products should be pink and frilly, it’s more about quality and aesthetics that are not only pleasing to the eye, but a pleasure to use.
It’s time to kick the habit
The UK cannabis industry is stuck in a rut, both in terms of archaic regulation and understanding who cannabis users really are. It’s time to kick the media-fuelled habit of assuming that stoners are broke, uneducated, male, teens and realise that, in actual fact, the future of cannabis is largely female. Classy females at that.