The Media and Lady Stoners: Are Times Finally Changing?

Weed-loving women have more freedom than ever before. Yet, when it comes to media portrayal of female stoners, there’s still a lot of room for growth.

Feb 10, 2016

It’s a good time to be a lady stoner. Now, more than ever before, women are coming out of the woodwork to support marijuana reform. However, when it comes to the media portrayal of weed-loving women, there’s still a lot of room for growth. 

Are Young Women Dominating The Scene?

According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 71% of people aged 18-34 support marijuana legalization. While this statistic includes both men and women, it’s safe to say that younger ladies have been far less discrete than older women when it comes to smoking weed. The growing popularity of hashtags like #girlsmoking, #girlsmoke and #gangagirls showcases the rise of a proud culture among young, millennial female stoners.

But, if you peruse weed pictures for any length of time on social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, you’re sure to notice a pattern emerge. Photos of a hot, scantily clad young ladies smoking out of a large, phallic-like bong are a dime a dozen these days.

Young women are also still sexualized in cannabis advertising. It’s not uncommon to see giant posters of mostly-naked ladies surrounded by weed at any 4/20 or hemp festival in the U.S.

Just to make things clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with showing off what you’ve got. In fact, more power to you. Yet, it’s safe to say that this hyper-sexualized portrayal of cannabis-loving women far from reflects the national average. Young smokers are often pigeonholed into this kind of sex-pot stoner stereotype, while mothers and middle-aged women have often been left out of the media scene all together.

Further, older women are also far more likely to face harsh professional or personal repercussions when it comes to being out and proud about their cannabis use.

Media and Lady Stoners

lady stoners CI 1 1 Worlds Most Famous Reggae Name Launches Own Weed Line
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In many ways, the cannabis industry is at a crossroads when it comes to presentation. On one hand, you have a large recreational market that presents marijuana as a party drug mostly used by young people. On the other hand, many budding cannabis brands and medical marijuana initiatives are desperately seeking to fight that image and portray cannabis as a plain ‘ol activity to mainstream audiences.

This is where women come in. Over the past few years, there has been a major push for more women of all ages to come out of the cannabis closet. In fact, initiatives like those put forth in Washington State prior to legalization targeted moms directly in their advertising. The reasoning behind this is that the marijuana reform movement needs more female supporters in order to gain the momentum necessary to pass legislation.

The challenge? Moms, female professionals, and senior women who use cannabis have been highly stigmatized for decades.

In a 2013 article published in The Atlantic, writer Emily Dufton explains that in marijuana-related film and media:

A woman—especially a hardworking, college-educated adult woman—would more likely be portrayed as pathetic instead of funny.

Dufton’s argument is based on the fact that, until very recently, marijuana has always been shown as a drug for lazy dudes. For example, in this IMDB list of 34 “Weed Movies”, only one of the films features strong pro-cannabis female costars. That film is Grandma’s Boy (2006).

Far worse, pro-weed mothers still face the harsh reality of being viewed as negligent parents and having their children taken away. Nearly every week, a new headline pops up about either an arrest of a mother or a custody battle between a mom and child protective services after she has either used cannabis herself or given it to a sick child.

A Recent Change Of Tune

Not all hope is lost, however. In the past two years alone, the amount of strong weed-loving, ladies in media has skyrocketed. This is especially true for women over 30. More female celebrities have also come out about their marijuana use, highlighting the fact that cannabis is far more mainstream for women than Hollywood may have suggested just a few years back.

Here are some positive examples of female tokers in recent media:

  • Meryl Streep’s character Jane Adler in It’s Complicated (2009) enjoys smoking joints with her former hubby and new love interest a couple of times throughout the film.
  • Sarah, played by Amy Landecker, in Amazon’s award-winning series “Transparent” (2014) is a mom who is shown smoking and buying weed on a few different occasions in order to cope with anxiety.
  • Claire Danes in Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” (2015) plays Nina, a successful 30-something food critic who smokes some Purple Pineapple out of a vape pen while seducing the show’s main character, Dev.
  • Comedian Sarah Silverman has openly discussed her marijuana use throughout her career. In a 2015 interview with Conan O’Brien (clip included above), she reminisces about time spent smoking weed with her parents.
  • In a Netflix original series “Chelsea Does” (2016), comedian and TV personality Chelsea Handler is not only stoned on the show, but openly discusses her recreational marijuana use in the final episode of Season 1.
  • Comedy Central’s “Broad City” (2014) showcases the commonplace adventures of two twenty-something stoner girls. In the series, stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson toke up frequently and engage all sorts of shenanigans around New York City.
lady stoners CI 2 Worlds Most Famous Reggae Name Launches Own Weed Line
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While mainstream media seems to be including more weed-smoking women in film and television, activist groups  like NORML Women’s Normal Alliance and Moms For Marijuana have gone above and beyond to change the image of female cannabis users. These pro-female cannabis groups work each day to fight for the rights of mothers, women, and all marijuana-loving individuals both domestically and internationally.

Right now, the cannabis industry seems to be locked in a battle pitting the young, hyper-sexualized “stoner girl” against the heavily stigmatized mother and professional woman. Fortunately, as more and more people begin to come out for marijuana, we’ve started to see some very different portrayals of female stoners in the media. While there is still a lot of work to be done in order to make cannabis truly more “normal” to older women, the there’s no doubt that the stigmatization of female users is beginning to ebb away.

What do you think? Are women overly sexualized by stoner media? Have you experienced any negative stereotypes as a female marijuana user? Share your story/opinions with us on social media or in the comments section below. We’d love to hear your take on things!

Feb 10, 2016