Women's History Month Celebrates Female Cannabis Connoisseurs
In honor of Women's History Month, Very Important Potheads has added profiles of several female conoisseurs to its website, including musician Alanis Morisette (pictured) and VIP of the month Isabelle Aberhardt.
Lady Gaga's remarks on 60 Minutes before this year's Grammy awards echoed Morisette's when she told High Times magazine in 2010, "As an artist, there's a sweet jump-starting quality to [marijuana] for me...So if ever I need some clarity... or a quantum leap in terms of writing something, it's a quick way for me to get to it." The singer/songwriter/actress also told Runner's World magazine of the clarity-bringing properties of a good run, which is interesting because the New York Times has just published a summary of studies that indicate that cannabinoids, not endorphins, are responsible for the so-called "runner's high."
The recently discovered Isabelle Aberhardt was born in 1877, the illegitimate daughter of a Russian noblewoman and her children's anarchistic tutor. Raised to be an independent thinker, her short but eventful life proved she was. At the age of 20, she left France for Algeria where she smoked kif, embraced Islam and picked up a sword to join a revolt against French colonialists in 1898. Dressed as a man, Eberhardt explored the region, sending dispatches in the form of crystalline short stories like "The Seduced," a heartbreaking tale of a young Arab who joins the army and returns to see his family's land usurped. A compilation of Isabelle Eberhardt's stories and reviews of her work, Departures, is published by City Lights (San Francisco).
VeryImportantPotheads.com, which profiles over 200 prominent cannabis consumers from history to the present day, is celebrating its 10th year of publication in 2010. Last year, its blog won a Top Marijuana Blog award from Onlineschools.org, and I (its author, Ellen Komp) was nominated for a Jack Herer award for Outstanding Hemp Awareness in Journalism. VIPs has merged its blog with TokinWoman.blogspot.com and is focusing on the female.
Playwright Lillian Hellman is a recent addition to the site, which also profiles "Little Women" author Louisa May Alcott (she wrote of hashish adventures in her novel A Modern Mephistopheles in 1877). Danish author Isak Dinesen, who was portrayed by Meryl Streep in "Out of Africa," is on the list, as is poet Iris Tree. Modern author Jill Ciment who spoke at a recent book fair that marijuana is part of her creative process, is also included.
Anthropologist Margaret Mead, who testified before Congress in 1969 saying she'd tried marijuana and that it ought to be legal, is on the site, along with notorious theosophist H.P. Blavatsky and modern scientist Susan Blackmore who "outed" herself as a pot smoker who found the experience inspiring in 2005.
Mother Mary Aubert, a French missionary to New Zealand who studied Maori herbal medicines and made tinctures of cannabis in the 1860s, is among the female VIPs, along with explorer Gertrude Bell, who helped draw the borders of modern Iraq.
Painter Marie Laurencin popped some hashish pills with Pablo Picasso one night in 1908, according to his mistress Fernande Oliver. Body Shop founder Anita Roddick wrote about early experiments with marijuana in her autobiography, as did former Canadan first lady Margaret Trudeau.
Beauty queen Georgine DiMaria, who uses medical marijuana for asthma, appeared at a Pennsylvania rally in support of a reform measure in that state, while Miss Teen Louisiana Lindsey Evans made the list after she left her purse with a bag of pot inside behind when she left a restaurant in 2008.
Stripper Candy Barr was imprisoned in 1959 for marijuana, and jazz singer Anita O'Day suffered the same fate. Actress Dawn Wells, who played MaryAnn on Gilligan's Island, was caught with pot when she was pulled over for speeding in 2008.
Blues singer Bessie Smith and jazz pianist and composer Mary Lou Williams are prominent musicians on the list. In the modern realm, there is author Pattie Boyd, who was married to both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, plus musicians Grace Slick, Cass Elliot, Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, Chrissie Hynde, Madonna, Bette Midler, Laura Nyro, Joss Stone, and American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson, who smoked pot in Amsterdam. Rock photographer Linda McCartney is also included.
Barbra Streisand is a surprising addition, with her biographies and other sources saying she smoked onstage and joked about it. Singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge has spoken openly about her medical marijuana use, and campaigned for a measure to legalize marijuana for adults in California (Prop. 19) in 2010. Michelle Phillips and Ani deFranco are members of the Marijuana Policy Project advisory board.
Political women on the site include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose biographies reveal she ate brownies with Bill and also inhaled the passing smoke at least one 60s rally, around the time Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan was having the same experience. Former Health & Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala makes the list, as does Caroline Kennedy, Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard and former UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin admits she smoked pot while it was legal in Alaska, and said in June 2010 she thinks law enforcement shouldn't focus its energy on the "minimal problem" of marijuana.
Natalie Portman, who just won an Oscar for her performance in Black Swan, is producing a female pot "buddy" film, and prominent Korean actress Kim Bu-seon has been an outspoken advocate for marijuana law reform in her country. Even Shirley MacLaine tried pot, and found it "fascinating."
Finally, Fulla Nayak, who was considered the world's oldest woman when she died in 2006 at the age of 125, attributed her longevity to cannabis.
Find more about women who love weed at VeryImportantPotheads.com.
Ellen Komp is an activist, writer, and regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website VeryImportantPotheads.com.