Why Diversity Matters in Cannabis Feminism

Yesterday the season finale of Queens of the Stoned Age aired on Merry Jane. This episode featured a group of female influencers and artists sitting around a kitchen table talking about cannabis and sex. Guests included adult film stars Riley Reid and Jenna Sativa, comedians Esther Ku and Rachel Wolfson, cannabis matchmaker Molly Peckler, musician and cannabis advocate Jacqueline Epcar and photographer Jennifer Rovero. I guided the conversation, pulling from everyone's knowledge and experiences to craft an accurate and female-powered conversation about cannabis, sex and what it's like to be a woman today. 

Just to give you some background, the first three episodes of Queens of the Stoned Age were shot in one day with a limited budget and a very short timeline to recruit a group of women that were willing to use cannabis onscreen and speak candidly about their relationship to the plant. You can tell because after smoking joint after joint all day you can barely see my eyes in this episode!

Casting was a constant conversation between me, Merry Jane and Jennifer Rovero. Because these initial episodes were considered a "proof of concept" in many ways, we targeted friends of Merry Jane and women who have worked with Snoop Dogg in the past. We did the best we could in the short time we had to make this real.

This is all to say that we definitely could have done a better job recruiting women of all ethnicities. At the end of the day the show mostly featured thin white girls, which is already such an issue in media and in our portrayal of "feminism." The cannabis industry is buzzing with diverse women and men and the show did not fairly represent this. As a result, we received some backlash from women who did not feel their voices were heard. 

I am writing this post to say sorry. 

I'm sorry that we could not collectively represent all of the voices of cannabis in these first three episodes. We are committed to changing this in future episodes. While the show was created by Merry Jane and Snoop Dogg, I did help develop it and it was inspired by the Cannabis Feminist women's circles we have been hosting for over one year. We intentionally chose an all-female cast and crew so every woman on set felt comfortable to be herself. This show is revolutionary in many ways (it is the first all-female unscripted conversation about women and cannabis,) but we can and will do better by fairly representing all of the faces of cannabis and Cannabis Feminism. 

Diversity in cannabis matters for so many reasons. Many of the communities that were not fairly represented in the show have been disenfranchised by cannabis in the past and have never had an opportunity to benefit from the booming cannabis industry. It is not an equal playing field and it is unfair that so many of us (including myself) get to freely pursue cannabis when many of the people who came before us and set the stage have been incarcerated and locked up in the failed War on Drugs. These are the voices and faces that deserve power, visibility and recognition in media, business and beyond.

I want to honor women like Jean and JaneLizzy Jeff, Mahogany Mary, Minelli Eustacio-Costa and groups like Calling Mary JaneCulinary and Cannabis, Estrohaze, Madame Green Grow and Supernova Women for highlighting the importance of this issue. We are all in this together and we would love to share your stories on future episodes. 

Jessica AssafComment