*Every woman who has ever smoked pot slowly raises her hand.*
Okay, maybe not every woman, but a new study by Van der Pop, a cannabis blog and lifestyle brand, shows a huge chunk of women — 70 per cent to be exact — still feel the sting of a negative stigma associated with their cannabis use.
The survey revealed responses from more than 1,500 North American women over the legal age. The results, collected last fall, were published on International Women’s Day, highlighting important areas of concern for brands to consider amidst the rapid economic expansion.
“We wanted to be able to say we’re not just guessing anymore and this is really how women feel,” April Pride, founder and CCO of Van der Pop told the Straight by phone earlier this week. “There are business decisions being made without considering the female consumer…and they’re probably not very good business decisions.”
The statistics don’t shift much from legal to non-legal regions, meaning the majority of women are feeling the pressure from family, friends and coworkers, no matter where they might be living. “These are societal-based concerns, versus legal concerns,” says Pride. Women are hiding their use for fear of judgement and being labeled “a stoner” more so than being caught doing something illegal.
Van der Pop launched a line of sophisticated, female-centric products in January 2016 to help “curate and create cannabis experiences for the modern woman.” Their collection features Italian leather stash bags, hot pink pre-rolled papers and sleek jars of hemp serums that rival something you’d find on Nordstrom’s cosmetic counter.
“Products are the real gateway,” says Pride. “If what you’re seeing looks like it works in your life, your mind does open just a little bit.”
Pride says the accessories are the “shiny toy” to draw women in so Van der Pop can provide them with the information they can’t finding elsewhere. With less than a quarter of respondents believing they have a solid grasp on the science behind cannabis and the majority saying they lacked a trusted resource, most women are currently turning to Google or a friend for answers.
Knowing their demographic wanted accurate information, as well as fashionable products, Van der Pop developed a blog and advice column to offer educated and playful insight on a variety of topics. Pride says data from the survey is helping shape their content based on areas women indicated an interest, including a range of topics from treating anxiety and depression to sex, cooking and skin care.
Pride believes expanding comfort zones can be as simple as getting women who have experienced cannabis in a positive way to talk about their usage.
“Someone who may be interested in trying it as an alternative to other medicines, that they’re using for anxiety or depression or to sleep, may not give it a chance if there is not a face they can identify with or a story that sounds a lot like their own,” says Pride.
The most powerful statistic highlights a shift in motherhood: 89 per cent of women say they are talking to their children about cannabis. These conversations include everything from how to safely consume recreational cannabis to medical benefits. Just under half of the respondents say they would prefer their children consume cannabis over alcohol and 38 per cent feel cannabis helps them be more playful and patient as a parent.
“Cannabis is not the enemy anymore, the way it was when I was growing up,” says Pride, a mother herself. “Parents are closer to their kids and they have a much more transparent relationship surrounding cannabis.”
The survey also gave Canadian women a chance to weigh in on the new legislation. Most notably are the changes they’re looking forward to post-legalization. The top three are: the reduction in organized crime, the avenue for research and, you guessed it, less stigma.
In the midst of cannabis normalization, space for women to explore creative, entrepreneurial and advocacy routes is expanding. Cannabis users are no longer relegated to wear the hat of either the wasted stoner chick or the flighty hippy. Coming fully out of the cannabis closet, however, seems it will still take time for many women, even long after legalization.
On a more positive note, one gleaming result to come from the survey shows the pro-cannabis community has one major achievement to celebrate. Only 10 per cent of women felt anti-drug campaigns deterred their desires to try cannabis. Three cheers for the failings of the war on drugs!
Click here to see the full results of the survey.