Women & Pot: A Personal Essay

I hate to generalize, but I think it’s safe to say that women’s relationship with marijuana differs from that of men’s.
Yes, we are all humans, and gender differences are often overstated and overrated, but men and women are different, and these differences affect the way we interact with marijuana.

Free Tokes & Perks?

One thing males may find it hard to understand is that for girls (or females, or women, or whatever you want to call us), almost all “intoxicating” experiences are shaded by culture and evolutionary biology.

For example, most women are physically weaker than most men. To be blunt, we can be raped by men, but we rarely are rapists ourselves. So for women, social interactions involving mind alteration can be potentially dangerous. We have to ask ourselves why somebody wants to get us high, or what might happen if we temporarily lose our connection with normal reality.

In social settings, many women feel they can’t fully abandon themselves to the joys of marijuana intoxication because we know that some people might exploit or misinterpret our high. Some people want to get women high (or drunk, or bombed, or wasted, or whatever) so they can get us into bed. I’ve been offered far more free highs than my brother or husband, for example, for the same reason I have been offered far more free drinks, perks and other incentives than they have. Females are pursued as a commodity, and some pursuers see marijuana as a sensual enhancer which will make me more amenable to sexual activity.

Sexual Enhancement

Of course, marijuana is an enhancer that increases the intensity of sensation coming in through tactile nerves, helping me tune in to nuances of body awareness I rarely sense when I’m unstoned. Massages, ocean waves, sunlight on skin, the wind whispering in the trees, the caress of a lover’s hand ? all seem more potent when I’m high.

And yes, at the risk of getting too intimate, I’ll confess that cannabis helps me open up my mind, my breathing and my muscles during sex. Inhibitions and worries fade away as I become one with the moment, fully present rather than preoccupied with mental chatter. Orgasms are profoundly total body, sometimes almost too intense. Sex while stoned is otherwordly and transcendental.

I sometimes feel I have been spoiled: I want to be high every time I have sex. On the other hand, cannabis is a revealer, a teacher, a guide that helps me find places in my heart and soul that I can later access even when not high.

Feminine Intuition

The set and setting of cannabis use is very important to the type of high I get, and I’ve noticed during the ten years I’ve been using pot (I started when I was 22), that sometimes marijuana enhances my intuition to the point where I start sensing things I wish I hadn’t sensed. Of course, women have long been suspected of having enhanced intuition; but when marijuana enhances my already-enhanced intuition I get a double dose of the ability to perceive things and make connections normally hidden from me!

To a large degree, intuition is influenced by brain structure. Scientists tell us that women’s brains evolutionarily favour cerebral functions on the right side of the brain. This brain half controls intuition, art, abstract thinking, music, emotion and creativity. Men tend to have be more in touch with the left brain, which is responsible for linear thinking, logic, language production, and other technical skills.

I notice that men who get high a lot tend to become less left-brained. Their perspectives shift to a more emotive, sensitive response to the world. They exhibit more empathy, more compassion, more ability to see interconnections and synthesize new ideas.

Scientists who’ve observed brainwave patterns, cerebral blood flow and other brain states of stoned people note that right brain function tends to increase under the influence of marijuana. If the right brain is the domain of “feminine qualities,” and if pot increases right brain function, we can logically conclude that pot may help men become more in tune with their oft-neglected feminine side.

Feeling Like a Woman

But who has the most intense relationship with marijuana ? men or women? I believe guys use cannabis more than girls, and are more prone to abuse it. By abuse, I mean that they smoke so much that it derails their goals, thinking and health.

Females tend to be more stable, commit less crimes and suicide, and are less likely to develop alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders, but they can still have problems with cannabis. Some of my female friends get paranoid in social settings when stoned, or become insecure and skittish, but I don’t know any females who smoke herb all day every day, becoming a stereotypical lazy stoner. Counterproductive use of herb seems to be a guy thing.

Of course, some guys need lots of self-medication. Cannabis heals men of the things that women often fear about them. The male tendency towards violence and dominance, for example, is often burned out of a male pothead.

Sometimes, the burning process can be an epiphany. I had a male friend who enjoyed the “sport” of hunting. He’d go out with his buddies and shoot innocent, helpless birds, send his dog to retrieve them, sometimes eat them, sometimes not. It was a bloody, macho and sickening power trip.

But then he got high before hunting, and it changed him. He told me he started getting “all these weird guilt feelings, like I was sinning by killing the birds.”

Sitting out on a levee, the stoned killer began to notice the visual splendor of nature, the miraculous flight of birds, the patterns and colours of their feathers. Pot helped him pay attention to the relationships between birds. He realized birds have families, mates, their own special lives.

My friend said he felt “like a woman” when he made the decision to stop killing. His spirit joined with his prey, and he experienced the unity of nature from a compassionate, centered place in his heart.

Political Warriors

While pot may encourage men to declare a truce in their war on nature, I’ve also seen it turn them into fierce political warriors. It isn’t often one sees a female marijuana activist or a female grower, but the persecution of marijuana and those who use it arouses in men an already-extant tendency to fight stupidity and injustice. This corresponds with sociobiology, which teaches us that women are wired to be nurturers who stay close to home, while men are wired to be fighters, protecting their families and imposing their version of utopia on an imperfect world.

Many male cannabis users are into the freedom-fighter aspect of cannabis. Getting high or growing herb is a way of defying fascist, unjust regimes. Women tend to have other, less-political, concerns, and I think that’s one reason so few women have visible public positions on the front lines of the cannabis wars.

Of course, everything I’m saying is a generalization. I know that everybody reading this has had their own experiences which may or may not match mine. Almost everything I’ve said could be taken exception to, and I hope you realize that I acknowledge that your experiences with herb and gender might differ from mine.

But I have been on the front lines of the marijuana wars, and have noticed that many women are led into the wars by men who decide to grow pot. It breaks up a lot of relationships: women like to get high, but they don’t like having to worry that their front door will be kicked down by armed goons. Like the female protagonist told her pot-growing boyfriend in the great pot movie The Moneytree: “Choose between me and those damned plants.”

Growing at Home

My husband was injured in an industrial accident, and decided to grow medicinal pot. I was against it, because I loved our home and knew that in America we could lose everything if we got caught. My husband brushed aside my concerns, and started a modest grow room.

I loved the pot he was growing. The grow room became our sacred room, where we had a massage table and could bask in the glow of warm lights and breathe in new oxygen. The plants were beautiful;

I teased my husband about how male plants were so undesirable. Unfertilized females, plant virgins never sullied by male pollen, were the prize. I thought of this as a metaphor, perhaps even a religious symbol- this worship of sensemilla and the ritual killing of male plants as soon as they appeared. It came to me that marijuana is a goddess religion!

My husband’s decision to grow pot changed our relationship and influenced many of my decisions. We had been thinking of having children, but there was no way I’d raise my children in a home that could be invaded by police at any minute.

Our social life suffered; it’s unwise to invite people over when you have electric sunshine pouring out of an interior room and the smell of hazy skunk in the air. We became hermits, and it bothered me that we were giving up so much for pot.

Some of my female friends also had husbands who grew pot. We agreed that our men were obsessive about cultivating herb and getting high. We surmised that women, being used to menstrual discomfort and childbirth, might be better able to cope with life’s traumas. We enjoy getting high and like to eliminate pain, but we can tolerate reality if we have to. Our men, it seemed, needed a global painkiller, an escape, something to lift them up.

None of the stoner women I know use marijuana as frequently as their men do. Nor have any of the single stoner women I know developed such a desire for a steady supply that they began growing their own. Of course, many single women are able to go out anytime and get someone to offer them a joint, but it just seemed like women aren’t needy enough for the high; getting stoned is icing on our cake, but the cake is good enough already.

Home & Life Invasion

I came home from work one afternoon and noticed that our front door looked different than when I had left that morning. I touched it, and it fell down. Five men jumped out at me, holding my arms and legs, and dragged me in the house. I struggled against them, eager to get my mace, or to kick one of the bastards in the crotch. I screamed for the police and the men laughed ? they were the police.

They told me they had earlier executed a search warrant of our home. My husband had already been arrested for felony cultivation and taken to jail. The lead detective said my husband had blamed the grow room on me, saying I had a pot habit. He said that if I told him everything I knew, I would not be charged with a felony. He said that if I did not cooperate, he and his men were prepared, right there in the living room of my home, to perform a “very unpleasant strip search.”

I looked around at the condition of our house ? at broken dishes, ruined paintings, the trashed and darkened grow room ? and realized that these men were truly evil, descendants of Hitler’s storm troopers, and that I was, in their eyes, a Jew.

When I refused to say anything other than “I want an attorney,” the men handcuffed me and threw me on the ground. They moved into a huddle and spoke in whispers, eyeing me furtively. Then, they picked me off the ground and carried me to an unmarked police car.

In jail, I was placed in a holding tank with 30 other women. Most were prostitutes and crankheads. I told them why I was there; many of the cranksters said they’d never tried pot, but wish they had used it instead of powder. I saw their emaciated looks, and thanked god I only used herb.

My husband and I were released on exorbitant bail, and spent the next year and $15,000 fighting felony charges. He was forced to plea to a felony, but escaped being sentenced to state prison, where his lawyer had told us he would be raped by someone with HIV and die.

MaryJane ? One Beautiful Babe

I love marijuana, and thank goddess for giving us this miraculous healing herb. It’s great for relieving menstrual cramps, erasing depression, restoring my soul. It turns eating, dancing, movies and making love into grander experiences.

My brain is a woman’s brain, with different hormones and neurochemistry from a man’s; marijuana’s interactions in my body are different than its interactions in male bodies. This may sound simplistic or overgeneralized; you may wonder if I have a degree in neurobiology. Well, I have studied marijuana science and also watched the genders interact with cannabis, and the differences are obvious.

I hope all women will become marijuana activists, growers, and hempsters, and herbalize with peaceful and pleasurable result.

Marijuana needs more allies of all genders and orientations. Praise the universe for marijuana. Like girls everywhere, sweet Maryjane is one beautiful babe.