Pic by @weedmaps
Women and weed are a match made in heaven. In the ancient world, cannabis was commonly used to ease the symptoms of gynecological issues now known as as period pain and endometritis. Its anti-anxiety properties have been known to help us through daily stresses. And who loves a good giggle more than the ladies?
But still, a stigma persists around smoking pot in general, and among women in particular.
Women smoke less than men - but that’s changing
On the male side, the stereotypical stoner is being replaced by something more mainstream, but on the female side… there’s basically nothing. No pothead girls or female stoner icons. There are few prominent female cannabis activists in the media (except for Rhianna, and maybe Jennifer Aniston), which means that being a productive member of society who also smokes weed - a mother or a girlfriend or a boss or a grandmother - is still way out of the norm.
And in fact, it’s not just a skewed gender thing - men do actually consume more cannabis than women. However, recent data shows that as cannabis becomes legal in more states and the stigma around it breaks down, the gender gap in cannabis is closing. Interestingly, this study pointed out that one of the main factors in men using more cannabis than women is their propensity for risk-taking behavior. So it stands to reason that as cannabis use becomes more mainstream and misinformation about its safety is cleared up - more women will feel comfortable smoking weed.
The bottom line is - with all of this misinformation, women can end up feeling ashamed about their cannabis use. And there’s just no reason for that. Here’s what you (or your friend, or your mom) need to know:
Cannabis is safe - really safe
Despite the stories we were brought up on that claim that cannabis is a dangerous gateway drug, cannabis is an incredibly safe substance. Sure, it has its side effects, and should be used in moderation like anything else, but there have been zero - yes, zero - reported cases of death from cannabis use.
As for the gateway drug myth, it turns out that it’s more about correlation than causation. That is to say - though young people who use other illicit substances used cannabis at some point, this doesn’t mean that cannabis was the cause.
Using cannabis doesn’t make you a bad mom
The image of a mother pouring herself a glass of wine at the end of the day - long before the children are in bed - hardly raises an eyebrow. Just search #wineoclock on any social network and you’ll get the picture. But somehow parents using cannabis is still somewhat taboo.
Like anything, the key is to arm yourself with facts. Just like drinking, safety should come first. So of course getting yourself smashed while you’re responsible for children is not recommended. But if you’re using it to unwind after a long day, to ease anxiety, or for other medical purposes, you can rest assured that the stigma is unwarranted.
The jury’s still out when it comes to pregnancy and nursing
The one place that caution is still advised when it comes to women and cannabis use is during pregnancy and lactation. While many dispensaries recommend cannabis to help ease nausea during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises discontinuing cannabis use during pregnancy until there’s more research available.
Similarly, for breastfeeding mothers, the ACOG errs on the side of caution, as THC has been found to stay in breastmilk for up to six weeks after the mother’s cannabis use. Having said this, there’s very little evidence that these small amounts of THC can be harmful to babies - and research has even found that naturally-occurring cannabinoids, known as endocannabinoids, are actually present in human breast milk.
Your uterus loves weed
In the 1990s, scientists discovered a system in the human body that interacts with cannabis. Dubbed the endocannabinoid system (ECS), this network of receptors, molecules and enzymes basically works to maintain our sense of balance and wellbeing. So what does this have to do with weed and your lady bits?
The first thing you need to know is that while the body produces the molecules that interact with this system - endocannabinoids - naturally, the cannabinoids in cannabis can also tap into ECS receptors. These receptors are located all over the body, and one type of them - CB1 receptors - are present in particularly high concentrations in the uterus.
While the mechanisms at play are still being investigated by researchers, this appears to explain why so many women find that cannabis offers relief from period pain, endometriosis and menopause symptoms.
And that’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.