Women of Cannabis: An Homage to Those That Came Before Us: PART 1
Women’s History Month was in March. Every day I come across another “National Day” for this or “Awareness Month” for that. Don’t get me wrong, I see great value in having dedicated appointments to acknowledge and commemorate important issues and topics, isn’t that what birthdays and anniversaries are for, too? It can bring education and great awareness to something that may have gone unnoticed or forgotten about during the rest of the year.
How is this relevant to the Women of Cannabis column in The Irie Times? Let me take you back to the month of March. I was inspired by Women’s History Month and did my usual online research with the trusted google, of course. I quickly began to feel uneasy and frustrated. I am a self-proclaimed advanced internet researcher, since I’ve been able to find 99.9% of what I aim to search for, for many years now, let me correct myself, decades, is more like it, so I was appalled to discover the lack of results (in the current Age of Information) when searching for: “female pioneers in the history of the cannabis movement”. It actually might have been easier at the local library.
I specified the word “movement” because before the 21st Century that’s what it was. The movement is still alive, however, it is quickly being upstaged by the “industry” of cannabis and the history of female pioneers prior to the 21st Century is fizzling away. I was very proud to see many results covering the women who are currently active in shaping the future of cannabis, however, as one of those women, I felt a sense of loss and weakness imagining our cumulative lifetimes of work can easily be forgotten if we don’t do something about it.
We already know that (his)tory has notoriously been recorded by men, for men. What I need to talk about is what we can do today and tomorrow to shift the paradigm and save the integrity of our future. History repeats itself, right? Well, oral (her)story can repeat itself too…let’s use the power of positive oral narrative about women since history books and the internet isn't doing a very good job at it. Let’s balance out this lopsided planet with some feminine energy to bring more peace, compassion, connection and creation. The cannabis plant is female, too…catchin’ my drift?
Honor the women of yesterday and today and the future protectors of this plant and planet. Share the stories of these women, their cause, obstacles, accomplishments, their adventures, philosophies, and ideas.
Here’s a real-life example: With a google search and a conversation with my husband (who has been an activist fighting the drug war since the 90s), I came up with a list of a few, among many women who have stuck their necks out and risked their lives for the cannabis movement and to fight the drug war. This merely touches the surface of how these women have shaped today’s cannabis industry. Continue your own journey in learning more and take this as inspiration to continue the positive oral narrative (and perhaps also recording on the internet) about today’s and yesterday’s women of cannabis.
ALICE B. TOKLAS was the life partner of writer Gertrude Stein. Alice published one of the best-selling cookbooks of all time in 1954 which included a cannabis brownie recipe, which she recommended to “liven up” a party, for women’s club meetings and rainy days. Next time you eat an edible, tell someone about Alice B. Toklas.
BROWNIE MARY also known as Mary Jane Rathbun - baked and donated brownies to AIDS parents at San Francisco General Hospital. Alongside Dennis Peron, she lobbied to legalize cannabis in the early 90s. Her multiple arrests brought interest to the medical community which spurred one of the first clinical trials to study the effects of cannabinoids in HIV patients. Next time someone mentions San Francisco, share Brownie Mary’s story.
JODIE EMERY is a Canadian Political Activist and has been arrested multiple times. People usually hear about her husband, Marc Emery, the “prince of pot”. Jodie is a politician and owner of Cannabis Culture Magazine. Her activism spans internationally for the past 13 years and has been integral in the push to progress the media and politics regarding the drug war. Next time someone mentions Canada, talk about the perseverance of Jodie Emery.
VALERIE CORRAL is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of WAMM, Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz and hospice care center for patients. Valerie created a true model of a collective by the community, for the community. Valerie was arrested in 1992 for growing five plants then founded WAMM in 1993. Valerie also took part in crafting Prop 215 and SB 420. WAMM was raided in 2002, and Valerie dealt with several lawsuits against the government. WAMM is still in operation today, 25 years later and Valerie continues to fight for safe access and has been at the bedside of almost 200 members who died in hospice. Next time you are talking about dispensaries and collectives, take a moment to share the story of Valerie and WAMM.
ELLEN KOMP is the Deputy Director of California NORML and has been a cannabis activist for over 25 years. She was a volunteer petitioner for the California Hemp Initiative in 1993, 1994 and for Prop 215 in 1995. Ellen authored the book: “Tokin Women: A 4,000-Year Herstory of Women and Marijuana” and also tokinwoman.blogspot.com which celebrates famous female cannabis connoisseurs throughout history. Continue your women of cannabis research, buy her book, read her blog and hey, maybe you’ll find yourself on some obscure website reading about a “tokin woman” that none of your friends have heard of and you can be the storyteller that continues the legacy of one great woman in (her)story that could have been forgotten.
Click Here to Buy your very own TOKIN WOMEN: A 4,000-YEAR HERSTORY OF WOMEN AND MARIJUANA
Written By: Sugar Laytart
READ PART 2 of this story
photo credit jodieemery.ca , cannabisculture.com