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.

Also honored as VIPs are Susan Sarandon, Cameron Diaz, and Lady Gaga, joining 65 other profiles of marijuana mamas published on the site.

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.

Comediennes Roseanne Barr and Sarah Silverman talk about marijuana in their life and work, and Whoopi Goldberg admitted she’d smoked pot on The View during the Mark Phelps flap.

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.

Actresses Jennifer Aniston, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox , Frances McDormand, Kristin Stewart , Charlize Theron,
follow the tradition of Tallulah Bankhead, who first smoked marijuana in Paris in 1918.

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.



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  3. vipelle on

    Yes, Rosalind Franklin was the woman whose studies prompted Crick to have his LSD revelation about the structure of DNA. And if you mean Einstein’s first wife, also a physicist, yes it has been suggested she participated in his research (much to the strong objections of men in the field.)

  4. Anonymous on

    “Pretty much all of history and the celebration or review of history is written, digested and seen through the eyes and heard out of the mouths of men.”

    Perhaps it was mostly men who were deeply involved in the most momentous events throughout history, so who better to tell it than those men?

  5. Anonymous on

    “But it’s also an occasionally overtly, explicitly, and aggressively sexist movement – which is not OK.”

    Ellen, I don’t know where you get that idea and don’t feel it’s justified. At least over the past decade, there have been plenty of of women in leadership roles, particularly among the state-level campaigns. However, if any charge of sexism justified, it’s the high rate of drug arrests and imprisonment among men compared to women and the vast majority of women support keeping it that way.

  6. undrgrndgirl on

    you are certainly aware that crick’s theories of genetics and einstein’s relativity may in fact have originally been theories put forth by women who were not given their due credit?

  7. Anonymous on

    Hi Ellen,

    Just thought you should know that AVG Surf Shield is blocking your website. Reason given is that it could be a Phishing or Social Engineering site and is blocked for your protection against identity theft, computer damage, etc. Maybe there is something wrong with your site link or your page has been hacked. Thought you should know.Thank you for what you are doing to raise awareness of Cannabis and all the people who use it and especially women!

  8. VIPelle on

    Yeah, I always get “look who you missed” or “why is she included” no matter what I do. I’m a great fan or Lynnette’s but the focus of my project is those who are famous for something other than marijuana.

    Funny, the complaints about honoring women. I’ve tried for years to get even a single female on most of the panels at conferences, etc…women are shown to be the least supportive of reform efforts too. Highlighting role models helps broaden peoples awareness.


  9. Michael Dunne on

    How could you not mention the greatest pot heroin, LYNNETTE SHAW, one of the authors of Prop. 215 and Director of the Marin Alliance Medicinal Marijuana and Fairfax Cannabis Buyers Club?

  10. Anonymous on

    alanis morrisette?
    A couple of LOUSY singles and this thing gets in here?
    If alanis gets recognized SO SHOULD PARIS HILTON-
    Both of them smoke weed and DO NOTHING.
    “I wrote this song because the fame was too much and I went to India and I smoked hookah and I ate curry chicken w/ a guru who made me walk on a sandy beach barefoot while I held hot stones between my breasts, and the moon smiled on my vagina then I knew the universe was one with me…” OH SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY
    All the rest of the broads listed are ok.

  11. wait, wait, what on

    Pretty much all of history and the celebration or review of history is written, digested and seen through the eyes and heard out of the mouths of men. In short, the entire year is “Mens History Month.” Women are a subset. And frankly, while this article is lovely and eye opening, I believe that these months ingrain the warped view that certain bits of humanity are only valid when it’s their “Special” month. Ideally, no one would get a special “time”, but sometimes it’s the only way to hear about them. It’s a double edged sword.

    By the way, history isn’t a zero sum game. Learning about female voices and accomplishments will not diminish the accomplishments of men. It’s not either/or. Human accomplishments go hand in hand and reinforce each other. And the laughable idea that the only accomplishment worth extolling is the creation of a piece of technology? Seriously? That’s so depressing that I don’t even know where to start with it, and lucky for any bored readers this comment is already too long.

    That said, recently and thankfully there’s been something of a debate going on. Ours is a highly masculine movement – which is perfectly OK. Masculinity (and femininity) of all stripes is awesome. But it’s also an occasionally overtly, explicitly, and aggressively sexist movement – which is not OK.

    The cannabis movement, as a whole, needs to embrace and integrate its female voices and history. No voice is the same as another. It needs to just get on with it during “normal” months and without, every time it does, some arse winging about how “Nooo! We can’t talk about womenz! It’s sexist to the menz! What about the menz?!? Won’t somebody think of the menz??” or how they don’t “want to hear about it” or how “these women are now making it all about them.” No, we’re not. We’re essentially saying: “Hey, you where there? Really? That’s so cool! We where there as well! Where will you be next? Lets swap stories!” Hearing stories that you don’t immediately relate to don’t make the story teller wrong for telling them.

    Until women can talk about themselves like men talk about themselves, as integrated yet autonomous elements within a whole, then we will keep fighting what is an already uphill battle. It will be a fight without the aid of the enormous demographic that has been proven to be (mostly) terribly alienated from our fight. To the point where there are recent articles and op-eds, written by confused guys asking the silly but genuinely sincere question, “Where are all the women?” Thankfully efforts are being made to try and get more women involved in what is a major civil rights issue and not just a “stoner dude” issue (as it’s characterized by some people.)

  12. Mark on

    Much of the technology in the world we see around us and use everyday has been invented by men. Although men are regarded throughout history as the oppressive dictators, as much as men have done bad, I would say, that they’ve made up for in good. So where is our month? This whole “women’s this and women’s that” is doing nothing but breeding misandry in my opinion.

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