The legal cannabis industry is becoming increasingly aware of its moral obligation to true equity across the market – passing the microphone to operators who’ve been fundamental to cannabis’s growth, yet shut out of the legal market.
This is where cannabis media can come into play: cannabis bloggers, podcast hosts, and influencers have tremendous sway over what’s talked about in the industry, and some are beginning to really take this responsibility to heart.
High Talks, a cannabis-specific series from the creators of the High On Feminism (HOF) podcast, is a Woke Media platform advocating for equity and social justice through their coverage, which includes educational conversations with those in the industry – specifically women – about cannabis from a business, legislative, and reformative perspective.
Cannabis Has Long Been a Boy’s Club – But Not Anymore
The first episode of High On Feminism’s new panel series, High Talks, kept its promise by shining the spotlight on women in cannabis.
The episode’s panel, which was hosted by High On Feminism producer Jess Poulin, included Her Highness NYC co-founder Laura Eisman, Last Prisoner Project community engagement manager and formerly incarcerated mother Evelyn LaChappelle, and High Herstory co-founder Annette Mia Flores.
The women discuss LaChappelle’s charges that led to an 87-month sentencing, cannabis legislature and prison reform, and how women can support other women and mothers who are still incarcerated for petty cannabis crimes.
“When it comes absolutely everything in life, [women] are always forgotten about,” Poulin told The Bluntness.
“As legislation changes around cannabis, it’s crucial to remember that women are part of this as well. We’ve always been intelligent, resourceful entrepreneurs, and we also want to smoke. Weed isn’t just for men, even if that’s how it’s always portrayed in pop culture.”
Poulin’s goals in the industry center on the advancement of women in cannabis – especially women of color. While the industry has been geared towards men for decades, entrepreneurs like Poulin are working to ensure this isn’t the standard moving forward.
“It’s so exciting. We’re working with pre-roll and bong companies, creating these really sleek, sexy, aesthetic products – things you’d actually want displayed in your home,” Poulin said.
Women have had a strong influence on the cannabis community for several centuries, utilizing the plant to take care of their families spiritually and medicinally. But after prohibition hit and cannabis was forced to exist solely underground, these rituals were largely forgotten, along with the women who upheld them.
As Poulin attempts to shed light on women in cannabis today, she also recognizes that if other women aren’t on the same page, nothing will change.
“Women don't support each other enough. We’re getting better, but there’s still a lot of work women need to do amongst ourselves when it comes to supporting one another,” Poulin said.
“I don’t claim to be the most knowledgeable person about cannabis, but I love to continue learning about it through my work. I’m having fun taking in new information and uplifting other women along the way.”
This is how the cannabis industry – and all industries – can truly shift their mindset in regards to women in the field: by allowing women the space to share their perspectives, innovate, and encourage one another.
Normalizing Women and Weed: From Consumer to CEO
Although it’s important to accept women into the cannabis industry, it’s equally important to allow women to find their place within the cannabis community: a.k.a., the consumer side.
As we mentioned earlier, women have long had their hands in cannabis and how it’s grown, distributed, and utilized by cultures all over the world. However, much of today’s media reflects a bro-centric weed culture, which simply isn’t the case.
“With High Talks, I want to start breaking down the taboos around cannabis in real life. Being able to talk about it more openly with your family, smoking around aunts and uncles and breaking that stigma of, if you smoke weed, you’re just a lazy stoner sitting on the couch watching movies,” Poulin said.
“If you educate yourself on cannabis’s effects and understand your body and how the plant works with it, you can find a form of it that really balances and seamlessly blends into your life. That’s amazing, and more people need to know about it.”
Cannabis has faced a big enough stigma over the past several decades, and women in cannabis are hit with that stigma ten times over. Since women are typically expected to “behave” in all aspects of society, a woman being associated with this rebellion-based plant has been a major taboo – and advocates like Poulin are working to change that.
“The High Talks series is going to highlight women in cannabis: everything from female entrepreneurs and how to build a cannabis brand to women in prison and the continued need for expungement,” Poulin said.
“I want to bring stuff like this to the forefront. Why are people still behind bars? Who are the people fighting to get remaining legalizations through in the U.S.? What can we do as consumers to ensure that, if states are legalizing cannabis, they’re also letting currently-incarcerated people out?”
Poulin is currently in the process of planning Season 2 of High on Feminism, after receiving a wealth of raving reviews for the first season, and is aiming to share new episodes of High Talks every other month. She aims to continue elevating women- and Black-owned cannabis businesses, creating a much-needed platform for businesswomen across the country.
“When I was starting my company, I was in a lot of rooms where I was the only woman, the only Black person, or the only Black woman in the room. That can be really intimidating, when that’s what everyone is paying attention to,” Poulin said.
“High on Feminism is about giving women a bigger platform. There’s so many ideas of what a woman can be, but a lot of times, we feel like we’re forced to choose between mom, housewife, or businesswoman. You can actually be all three, and it’s important to show young girls and women in their 20s and 30s what that can look like for them.”
As for New York legislation and the continued legalization of cannabis throughout the country, Poulin will continue to use High Talks to shine the spotlight on those who are still incarcerated for cannabis, despite these legal advancements.
“Back in the ’90s and early 2000s, you could get arrested for having a small joint on you. The fact that many of these people are still sitting behind bars and I probably have more weed in my house right now than what they had on them...I don’t want to see anything about business until these people are out of prison,” Poulin said.
Podcasts like High on Feminism, with programming like High Talks and advocates like Poulin are great models for what the industry needs to remain focused on: equity, expungement, and a return to cannabis’s spiritual roots.
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