Happy 4/20, y’all! Whether or not you are part of the 55 million Americans that regularly smoke, I hope you’re spending your day in true stoner fashion: relaxing on your couch, crushing through bags of chips while marathoning Broad City.
But today isn’t all about getting high and vegging out. For the past few decades, marijuana legalization has been a hot-button topic at the federal level, and feminists have been heavily involved in advocating for safe, legal pot. In fact, the legal marijuana industry is largely female-dominated, and is set to be a billion-dollar industry in the near future.
Now, I don’t have a huge personal stake in this debate. I’m a white dude who has minimal experience with weed, and I don’t suffer from any major ailment that would be alleviated by marijuana. After researching about the ins and outs of legal weed, however, I don’t see how feminists would be against legalization.
Marijuana can significantly reduce symptoms in a large number of illnesses and ailments that disproportionately affect women — anxiety, depression, PTSD, breast cancer, MS, and eating disorders are just a few. Though weed won’t cure your problems, it can reduce pain and help you feel happy and healthy.
Speaking from personal experience, my female friends that do regularly smoke aren’t just doing it for the high. My peers have used small doses of pot to aiding with insomnia, helping with mensural cramps, reducing chronic pain, and even having better orgasms.
Anything that can help women feel more comfortable in their bodies is good in my book. We have to acknowledge, though, that legalization isn’t as easy as waving a finger and handing everyone a joint. In order to ensure equality in legal weed, we have to reverse the racist polices that have disproportionately affected POC marijuana users in this country.
Black and Latinx folks have insane rates of incarceration for drug crimes compared to white folks — in fact, white people with drug charges are pursued in federal court only half as much as people of color. This means that POC are more likely to be denied the right to vote because of laws that prevent felony convicts from voting. Those with felony charges (which can be as simple as marijuana possession) are also more likely to be denied work, loans, housing, education, and child custody. If us feminists want to get behind marijuana legalization, we must call out the racist systems that have targeted marginalized communities.
So, whether you’re a 2007 Miley Cyrus or a 2013 Miley Cyrus when it comes to marijuana, I hope you can see that certain weed policies in the United States need major reform. This isn’t just an issue that affects the Seth Rogans of the world — legal weed can bring marginalized communities closer to the equality that feminists have been fighting for.