Bros and blunts are cool, but ganja's more of a girl thing these days. With cannabis as America's fastest-growing industry, and Los Angeles the capital of that industry, women are determined not to be left out.
From pot princesses to power women who love weed, a handful of L.A. ladies have taken it upon themselves to form social clubs, throw parties and host educational events to empower women in cannabis. The movement is about providing an alternative space where women can feel comfortable, and where they don't need to compete with men, or even with one another.
"You flip the script. We're used to bros and booze, but what if it was about women and not-booze?" says Corinne Loperfido, who founded Pussy Power House to throw 420-friendly, alcohol-free parties, full moon circles and seminars on topics such as women's health. "It's time for weed to come out of the closet and into the public. So many people enjoy cannabis in different ways now that it's legalized and integrate that into the mainstream culture as an alternative."
Pussy Power House isn't only about the events Loperfido puts on but about the community those events foster between parties. "Cool people get to meet each other, work on a project and have those relationships," she says. "I like to come in and be the catalyst, to create the container for people to have those conversations and experiences on topics more meaningful than getting drunk at the bar."
Held every month or two, the parties have a different theme: fruit, periods, flowers. They're opportunities to learn about gardening or menstrual cups over a joint with friends, artists, herbalists and other creatives. The parties also feature "medicine woman" Lizzy Jeff, founder of Zen & Kush, who hosts a medicine bar where guests can learn about cannabis and other herbs. "For so long, when you think about mainstream cannabis culture, it's been directed to men: How high can you get, how fat is your blunt?" Jeff says. "But for me, this is a tool for us to tune into deeper levels of our spirit."
Cannabis also is increasingly being used as a platform to bring women together. Cannabis Feminist, for instance, hosts regular cannabis women's circles where women meet and share their stories over weed. They can use the space to feel vulnerable, to bond with one another and to form relationships to help further their goals. For Cannabis Feminist itself, the goal is to create a women-run cannabis empire, in which women can sign up to be educators and brand representatives, sharing with the canna-curious what products might work for them.
As the group's motto goes, "The future of cannabis is female," and Cannabis Feminist is one of the premier entities pushing that notion forward.
Then of course, there's OG GirlsClub, which functions as a "creative launchpad and support group" for women to mentor one another and kick off their business ideas in the cannabis space. "We know as professional women, whether in the cannabis industry or not, that we are constantly fighting gender inequalities in a system that has been ruled by a 'boys club' for far too long," says Valery Sepulveda, OG GirlsClub co-founder.
All millennials, the women behind the club have already been successful in their own fields, having come out of marketing, advertising, the music industry and nonprofit work. Sepulveda is also the vice chair of the L.A. chapter of Women Grow and does business development consulting for a cannabis biotech company.
In addition to providing women with club membership opportunities, OG GirlsClub hosts fundraising parties for charity, blending art, fashion, underground music and, of course, cannabis. "Our coined term 'glamorous cannabis' is our focus when curating events," Sepulveda says. "A lot of events we've been to are just a bunch of brands with no cohesive theme. That doesn't tell a story and make an impact, so that's our main differentiator."
OG GirlsClub's Feb. 25 event — "La Loba: A Cannabis Journey to Self Love" — raised money to empower sex trafficking survivors through the creative arts. "Even if someone doesn't associate sex trafficking with cannabis, it's huge, especially in California," Sepulveda says.
"We want to make sure every activation and brand on-site has a product or is doing some kind of activity that will help women empower themselves and feel OK in their own skin," she says.
The OG girls handpicked brands focused on wellness and the "feminine side" of cannabis: skin care lines, wellness products, CBD drinks; anything that's focused on organic, ethically made products. And those products are trendy, too. Past events have featured brands such as CannaGold, a medicated bath bomb company, and Elevate Jane, a contemporary smoke shop.
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"A lot of people are seeing the creative side of cannabis and incorporating fashion, style and visual aesthetic into the industry," says Jade Daniels, co-founder of Ladies of Paradise, which provides cannabis content for brands and hosts launch parties as well as infused dinners and lunches around Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. Daniels and co-founder Harlee Case both come from fashion backgrounds and aim to reach a wider audience that doesn't necessarily use cannabis already.
At their last event, an infused brunch at a loft in downtown L.A. with chef Luke Reyes, who hosts a meal series called La Hoja (that means "the leaf" in Spanish), women from cannabis, fashion and other industries got to mingle. "It was really amazing to see the fashion girls and the cannabis girls, who wouldn't actually know each other, trading secrets, talking about CBD, cross-contaminating both markets really well. It was a win-win," Case says.
Together, all these groups are expanding what it means to be a stoner, a cannabis consumer or merely a 420-friendly enthusiast. A far cry from the hyper-sexualized "420 nurses" often present at cannabis cups, these women are professional, trendy, artistic and passionate about cultivating a better cannabis industry for all.
"One of our goals is to end the stigma of the cannabis consumer," says Daniels. "We promote positive cannabis consumption, bringing people together for events, working with other women and spotlighting women who are killing it in the industry."