Marijuana and Women
Cannabis Culture Magazine issue 56 - an online teaser with the Assistant Editor Jodie Giesz-Ramsay.
In the world of marijuana magazines and pot politics, the female cannabis flower is the epitome of desire and treasure. For female humans in the ganja world, however, the situation is more complex. This world until a few years ago was a naughty boys' club characterized by an adolescent, crass, sexist view of women.
All that has changed in the last decade, as women worked their way into the forefront of marijuana advocacy, business and media. California's Mikki Norris was among the first to break the gender barrier, campaigning for the rights of drug war prisoners. Mari Kane founded a hemp magazine and led the hemp movement in the 1990's. Valerie Corral co-created the Wo/Myn's Alliance for Medical Marijuana and is still valiantly fighting federal narks in California.
Karen Watson and Sita Windheim opened Vancouver's Amsterdam Cafe during the heady early days of last decade's Vancouver pot scene. Both women are still active in the pot scene, despite police persecution. Mila, from Amsterdam, Holland, created the Pollinator hash-making machine and has been an outspoken pot promoter worldwide. Hilary Black started and managed the renowned Vancouver Compassion Club.
Mary Lynn Mathre is a registered nurse who convinced several major nursing associations in the United States to endorse medical marijuana, while also co-sponsoring America's only clinical cannabis conferences. Dr. Melanie Dreher did pioneering academic work that established the beneficial medicinal and cultural value of ganja in Jamaica. Loretta Nall defied police attacks to create the US Marijuana Party and become a leading pro-marijuana speaker and debater.
"Watermelon," who gained fame for her heavenly brownies and tanned bare skin on Vancouver's bohemian Wreck Beach, got busted naked and fought back; she's poised to make major new loopholes in Canadian marijuana law. Carol Gwilt, a mild-mannered former teacher of disabled students, opened Vancouver's first authentic Dutch-style retail cannabis shop, Da Kine, and is facing prison because of it.
These and other courageous women have redefined what it means to be female in today's marijuana culture.
Empowered by their example and seeking to further the influence and visibility of women in the pot world are activists like Jodie Giesz-Ramsay, a 20-year-old native of Kamloops, British Columbia who moved to the marijuana mecca of Vancouver in 2004 so she could work with famed cannabis activist and rights advocate Marc Emery.
In the past, a woman who looks like Jodie would have been given only one role in the marijuana world, and that role would have defined her by her looks and nothing else. She's a vivacious, dark-haired, silky-skinned, lithe, luscious beauty who created a small sensation at last year's Toker's Bowl.
It wasn't just her face and body that made waves at the world's premier pot party, however. It was also her sparkling personality. Jodie is energetic, upbeat, honest, helpful, kind and sweet. She cares about people. She's not a bitch or a drama queen. She smokes the strongest marijuana and hashish all day and night, and still communicates articulately. She's 100% dedicated to marijuana legalization and ending the drug war. These are rare qualities to find in anyone, much less a 20-year-old hottie from BC's mountain biking hinterlands.
After being deluged by fans wanting to see more of Jodie, Cannabis Culture publisher Emery put her in front of a camera a few months ago.
"It was the second time I had ever seen fresh pot plants; these were Dutch Treat, which had just been harvested hours beforehand," says Jodie, describing the photo session that resulted in a scintillating centerfold picture of her and ganja unclothed, which will appear in issue 56 of Cannabis Culture due out in July.
"The smell is amazing," she recalls. "I have never been so enchanted by the scent, feel, and look of a plant. I got very, very sticky! The buds were loaded, practically dripping, with resin. Delicious. It was my first photo-shoot ever, a strange but enjoyable experience. I'm shy on camera and I don't like posing, but it turned out fine."
"Fine" is an understatement. The camera loved Jodie. Advance reaction to the photos is that they are "wicked, heartbreaking, and volcanic." Many women have been photographed for covers and centerfolds of cannabis magazines in recent years, but Jodie's photos are sexy without being sleazy. They're not the cloying, tawdry, Playboy-ish photos often seen in potzines. They respect the woman while also celebrating what nature has given her.
"Jodie's shots are classic," said an insider. "Cannabis Culture publishes the best photos of superb marijuana flowers with crystal clear resin glands at peak development, flowers that clearly come from superior genetics and have been tenderly cared for. Jodie is the human female equivalent of that ideal."
How does a girl get from Kamloops to the centerfold of the world's best marijuana magazine?
When Jodie was in ninth grade, if you'd asked her about her future, marijuana wouldn't have been anywhere in her answer.
"Believe it or not, I used to be so anti-drug, anti-drinking, anti-sex, and even anti-teenagers. I was uninterested in most people my own age," she explains. "I gave all of my pot-using friends a hard time with my ignorant, immature stance and scathing lectures about the harms of pot, drinking, and drugs. In tenth grade, I slowly started to become more inquisitive and social. I hung out with a group of guys who always smoked pot -- and read Cannabis Culture magazine and watched Pot TV -- and although I initially abstained from trying it, I had stopped condemning people who did. On February 17th, 2001, I decided to try drinking alcohol. My parents were gone, my friends and I had my big house all to ourselves, and so we got some beer. I hated the taste! After getting me to down a can, we decided to go hotbox one of the bathrooms upstairs. I said I'd sit in, but wouldn't smoke. We made a gravity bong, turned on the shower and some techno/trance music, and sat on the floor. I watched them all have a hit, and I said 'Let me try.' I got stoned right away, and that night, I became an entirely open-minded person. That was the start of my involvement in the world of marijuana."
Jodie says by the time she was in eleventh grade, she had become a "full-time stoner" who did well as part of her school's gifted and talented program. She was also exploring the marijuana movement by participating in Cannabis Culture's rollicking discussion forums and website, which she first joined in December 2001.
Emery and other forum veterans noticed her right away. Her posts were a breath of fresh air in a cyber world where most people spend too much of their time arguing viciously about the best ways to legalize marijuana or lamenting a recent arrest.
Jodie attended an advanced school in Victoria, BC, in grade 12. Whenever she visited Vancouver, Emery and his staff at the BCMP headquarters entertained her and enjoyed her youthful energy and outlook. Gradually, Jodie moved to Vancouver and became an activist, writing pro-cannabis letters to newspapers and attending marijuana rallies and related events.
When Emery was sentenced to three months in jail last year for passing a joint in Saskatchewan, Jodie volunteered to be his guardian angel and personal assistant while his business partner, Michelle Rainey, took care of the entire organization and all the people he looks after.
From jail, Emery called his Pot-TV studios to read aloud from his daily jail journals. Jodie took recordings of those calls home every night, and wore out her fingers transcribing what he said so his words could be posted on Emery's online 'jail blog'.
"I'd spend hours typing Marc's words every night. It gave me an amazing sense of accomplishment and insight. His messages were so inspiring, saddening, hopeful -- and I decided I had to put myself entirely into the legalization effort in whatever ways possible," Jodie says. "I started by writing more letters to papers and being published, and I donated money to different parts of the movement. I called in to radio shows and TV programs when they aired shows about marijuana. And more recently, I've been lending a hand at Pot-TV, be it camera work, tech work, or appearances on 'The Contest'."
When Emery decided to personally supervise the making of each issue of Cannabis Culture magazine beginning in February 2005, he replaced several staffers with one person -- Jodie.
As assistant editor and organization handy-girl, Jodie's a dynamo of achievement and networking, helping Emery increase the already-prodigious amount of respect the world has for Cannabis Culture, which is known as the only marijuana magazine and website that seriously, intelligently and intensely covers all aspects of marijuana art, culture, entertainment, botany, cultivation, spirituality, news, and activism.
"I try my best to help everyone get information, and assist people in the online forums," Jodie says of her job. "I'm working on getting CC a larger support base and a stronger international market. I want to spread the truth of legalization through our publication, and act as a media-friendly representative of the organization."
Spreading the truth cast Jodie in the challenging role of pot politician during 2005's British Columbian election season. She campaigned to represent wealthy Vancouver suburbs as a British Columbia Marijuana Party candidate for the BC parliament. [The cover of issue 56 features Rhiannon Rose, another young, beautiful female who works at the BCMP Bookstore, and who ran as a candidate in this year's election. Amy and Tera, who work the BCMP Bookstore and Emery Seeds office, respectively, are the other two girls on the cover of 56.]
"I didn't have enough time to do all the campaigning I wanted to do this election because I was working so hard putting together the latest issue of Cannabis Culture, but I was amazed at how kind the voters were to me and how much support I got at the two all-candidates meetings I attended," Jodie says.
"The elderly and wealthy people of West Vancouver-Capilano listened to what I had to say, and were all very impressed at my ability to speak well and answer questions on every subject. It was such a rewarding experience, and one I never ever thought I'd do. I'm a shy person in public, and I had told Marc I wouldn't run and don't want to be in politics. That's sure changed. At my second all-candidates meeting, a voter complimented my speaking abilities and asked if I was a marijuana user. I said, 'Yes, I smoke it every day,' and she was floored! That's what I want: to shock with the truth, to bring respect to the people in the movement. I'm glad I could use my candidacy to dispel the stereotype that pot smokers are losers."
The stupid stoner stereotype is one that haunts marijuana culture, and Jodie is a good candidate to blow the stereotype to pieces. No matter what time you contact her, she is alert, focused, and goal-oriented, even if she's more stoned than most big super-toker men could handle.
"I smoke every day, though it's been a lot less since I started working at CC. From April 2004 to February 2005, I smoked constantly," she says. "I'd consume between a half ounce to an ounce a week of my own stash, always just hanging out at home or the BCMP store. Being at the store all the time, I was also getting high smoking the goodies brought in by breeders, growers, and customers. Now, I use the Volcano vaporizer at work because this is a non-smoking building, but I also love joints and my bong! My bong is for getting high at night and in the morning, and joints are for trips, walks or ventures out in public -- or for sampling bud, to get that familiar and comfortable smell and taste of smoking cannabis. I like sativas more than indicas, because I really don't need to be brought down by being "stoned" -- I like getting "high"! Currently, I'm really enjoying a Mikado strain, but there's so much variety around here I'm always trying something new. My favorite place to get high is at home on my couch with my kitty Max, lounging around with music on. When I'm high, what I usually feel is intensified. I'm happy, calm, and part of the universe. Oh, and nothing is better than being in the sunshine when you're stoned!"
As part of an organization that has access to the world's most potent cannabis buds and derivatives, Jodie has had the enviable opportunity of trying novel ways of getting high. From full-melt bubblehash to cannabis tinctures, she's sampled it all.
"I spent a whole day working the BCMP Bookstore cashier booth dropping tincture in my mouth," she reports. "I was giggly and smiley, even more so than normal! I also experimented with a tincture-like patch that [Canadian medpot activist] Philippe Lucas had at the store. He put cannabis gel on my arm, and then a transparent patch like a clear band-aid tape or Nicotine strip. Very soon after, I felt lovely. It was an interesting high I can still -- vaguely -- remember!"
Obviously, Jodie is an enthusiastic proponent of cannabis, but she's also honest about the effects drugs can have on young people. She's known teenagers who have problems with alcohol, cocaine, harder drugs, and even marijuana. She's known girls victimized by sexual assault, date rape drugs, and other horrors. She cautions youngsters to develop good life skills, self-knowledge and maturity before they begin altering their brains with drugs.
"I figure children shouldn't use substances: kids should be healthy and active, and get their high from being young and imaginative," she advises. "But kids will always eventually use substances, regardless of laws. Instead of having a police approach to it, I think it would be wiser to honestly educate about the effects of drugs, and promote parent-child communication and personal health. A lot of addiction and abuse problems come from childhood or teen trauma, so we need to make sure that youth are looked after, loved, and trusted. The thick barriers between youth and adults create damage, and lead to emotional pain and mistrust, so we need to make sure that drug use is not something that causes negative consequences."
Drug use can cause negative consequences, as can drug reform activism. Jodie knows that working for Emery means working for an organization that the DEA, the RCMP, and other meanies would love to shut down. And there are intimate personal risks as well. Jealousies, backstabbing, and slagging are more common in the cannabis world than outsiders would suspect, and Jodie's close association to Emery has generated more than a few raised eyebrows.
"Oh yes, the gossip has been pretty awful at times," Jodie admits. "I've gotten emails saying really nasty things centered around baseless accusations and rumours, mostly because of my personal appearance and seemingly-suspicious rise in recognition."
As for the dangers of being associated with a pro-pot movement, Jodie doesn't seem too concerned. "I've always been a little reckless and outspoken about my marijuana use and my desire to end prohibition. I've never been scared, which may be foolish; on Parliament Hill in Ottawa last November 30th when Bush was arriving, I wandered over towards the cops and smoked in front of them, smiling and being as happy and friendly as possible. I always get a rush of pride when I light up in public at rallies and events. I feel proud to be a marijuana user, proud to be part of the movement, proud to be Canadian. I'm not afraid of anything -- yet. I assume it takes a jailing or arrest before you feel the fear. Of course, I worry for everyone I work with, because these are good people doing selfless jobs and I don't ever want to see harm come to such wonderful individuals."
A few times, Emery's associates have been arrested and harassed. Emery himself has been arrested many times, and anybody who works closely with him naturally has that worry on their mind. Vancouver police have raided Emery's businesses, once trashing his magazine's offices.
Jodie says she soldiers on because she believes in Emery and the cause, and because her family supports what she's doing. She won't be fielding a tearful call from mom and dad, complaining that their darling daughter has chosen to appear nude and sticky with pot plants in the centerfold of an international magazine. And she won't be agreeing with the anti-sex feminist purists who will no doubt criticize the centerfold as an example of sexploitation of women.
"My family supports my marijuana activism one hundred percent. I got a card from my grandma congratulating me on running in the election. My parents and family are very proud of me. I've always been raised with the hopes of becoming a writer, editor, or politician -- and now I'm doing a little bit of it all!" she says proudly. "I'm very liberal, open, accepting and honest. I refuse to delude myself by thinking that looks have nothing to do with success. I understand how the world works -- human beings appreciate and crave beauty. Sexuality is beautiful, and if beauty garners attention, then I feel I can use my assets to draw attention to my, and our, personal mission. If a pretty face sells Cover Girl makeup, then a pretty face can sell legalization. And it'll sell even better if there's respect for the woman behind the face. I want to represent the movement in a new way: someone sexy but classy, serious but playful, not afraid to be outspoken, always happy to be of assistance, not your average pot-smoker stereotype."
Not being average -- Jodie sure has succeeded in that. She has a high example to follow, working in the shadow of Marc Emery, who is known worldwide as a self-sacrificing marijuana proponent and entrepreneur.
"Marc never stops impressing me with what he does daily, and what he's done in his past," she says enthusiastically. "He's got an amazing mind for business and dealing with people. His message of legalization is so logical and so constant. He goes out to demonstrate the absurdity of the laws. He brings our cause to the media and draws international attention to our plight. He's always giving of himself, be it time, money, or emotional support. I've never met anyone so generous in so many ways. Behind his colourful, empowered persona is a gentle, loving, sincere man who values freedom, peace, and justice. I truly believe that with help from around the world, Marc Emery will bring an end to prohibition, and we will take another step towards total personal and political freedom."
Marching with Emery toward a hoped-for cannabis utopia, Jodie says she's ready for whatever comes her way. When asked if she was excited about being the ultra-hot nude pot-babe centerfold in issue 56, she modestly responded by focusing her praise on the rest of the magazine.
"Issue 56 is fantastic. I'm very proud of the entire magazine," she says. "The cover came out perfectly; we have an outstanding new creative team, skilled at collaborating and improvising. The articles are colorful and varied. We have an awesome exclusive Kottonmouth Kings feature, and very in-depth articles about the hydroponics industry, Tasers, and canna-product reviews. We have Marc's amazing marijuana seed catalog, updated with a bit of flair. The illustrations by our new artist Gary Wintle make the magazine look fresh and interesting. Maybe some people will buy it just for my centerfold, and that's great; but Cannabis Culture continues to be the only magazine where you can get the best information, fun, pictures, grow tips, and news about our culture and the world!"