How cannabis businesses are marketing towards women, and why

How cannabis businesses are marketing towards women, and why

From Tayyab Shah

I am raising my money for my class room.

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If you are a fan of old stoner comedies or are aware of the stereotypes that are often associated with marijuana use, then you can probably think of several men who portrayed marijuana enthusiasts on the big screen, but when it comes to women, the list is much shorter, and often even non-existent. This is because cannabis culture has been a male-dominated industry and market for many years, with women taking a back seat in most areas, and this indifference is still seen today with only a fraction of women cannabis dispensary owners compared to men, and an only slightly more significant number of females who are consuming marijuana products. 

Men vs. women and marijuana use

Though marijuana use has grown exponentially in both men and women, men are still much more likely to consume marijuana products, with overall numbers of male cannabis consumers nearly doubling in the last year. Right now, 13.9% of men and 7.4% of women have used marijuana products at some point or another in the past twelve months. These statistics make it appear as though men are the primary gender to benefit from cannabis, but women can obtain just as many, and possibly even more. So why aren’t they? 

1. Harmful stoner stereotypes

One of the main reasons believed to be at the heart of this issue is old-school stereotypes surrounding marijuana use, which are mostly negative and often masculine. Think of the greats like Tommy Chong who helped to drive this idea that cannabis would lead to a lazy and unproductive individual that wasn’t all too intelligent either. This is just one stereotype that most women would not want any type of association with, despite the fact we now know that there are many different invigorating and uplifting marijuana strains that can contribute to a healthy and active lifestyle. 

2. Propaganda 

Throughout the decades of prohibition, there were plenty of media releases and educational resources that were used to teach kids about the so-called dangers of drugs. Though most of the claims made in these types of materials were quite outlandish, one female-focused tidbit of misinformation included the idea that if girls or women chose to consume cannabis, that they would end up feeling sedated and overly promiscuous. This association was never once implied towards men, and since so many women already face more backlash from similar activities their male counterparts, including with prominent issues like the difference in how the two genders are treated in cases of rape. It makes sense that most females would avoid the possibility of being taken advantage of or viewed with such a negative light. 

3. Lack of education and information  

Despite cannabis now being legal in Canada for more than half a year, there are still very few reliable resources out there for women to turn to for information about marijuana use including the effects, or ways that it could be used to treat various symptoms that women face like menstrual cramps. Doctors are not yet required to learn about this incredible new plant, and many still hold biased views on the subject. This makes it so that even the women who try to approach their physician for practical information are often shot down. This is discouraging, and in a region that is currently suffering from a major shortage in family doctors, cannabis knowledge is not something that motivated patients to find new healthcare providers. Though patients can often find this type of information about other medications and

therapeutics using different agencies, there are currently no published programs or interventions for women who are pregnant, nursing, trying to conceive, or otherwise who have crucial questions about marijuana use. 

4. Lack of access to marijuana products for women

Canada legalized raw marijuana sales in October of 2019, but the items that are not currently available make up a large portion of what are female friendly cannabis items. Some of the bestselling things in other regions consist of all banned marijuana products in Canada, including skin cream, makeup, soap, nail polish, tanning oils, THC tampons, bath bombs, and pain or pressure relieving ointments.  

5. Little to no personal experience with marijuana use  

Since females, in general, are much less likely to consume marijuana products, they are also much less likely to be exposed to cannabis use at any point in their lives, and it is challenging to build a comfortability with a product or ingredient that is not familiar. 

How cannabis business is currently marketing towards women in Canada 

Right now, the only real women focused advertising that is happening in this country, is for big events or weed accessories. This is mostly thanks to the Canadian government who has restricted the sales or concentrated marijuana products until December of this year, but also in part caused by a lack of female presence in cannabis culture before now. You can find women empowering seminars on cannabis consumption and growth, and quartz pipes, or smokeless vaporizers that appeal to women who are in general more concerned with physical health. What you can’t find are women specific marijuana products even among st the strains that are currently available. 

How cannabis business is being marketed towards women in other regions

A cannabis dispensary that has been equipped with a knowledgeable bud tender in women specific issues is one way that different areas have begun to market their buys to women. Another is through aesthetics, using techniques that have been utilized by the fashion and beauty industries for years. Though both points are a fantastic start, there is a lot to improve on for the Canadian market to succeed in drawing in new female customers. 

Why Canada needs to improve

We know from experience with almost every other industry that the way something looks can undoubtedly increase the chances that someone will want to buy it, and the same can be said for marijuana products like clones, weed accessories, or bud. The trouble with this tactic is it fails to consider the true medicinal nature of this plant, which for many, was the reason they wanted to see true legalization in the first place. The flourishing markets in areas like Colorado are mainly recreational based and have failed to pull in new female customers at almost every turn. For women to truly become enthralled with cannabis products enough to spend their hard-earned cash, they will need to be exposed to the products that might help them. Be it to relax at the end of a long hard day, or to relieve some painful and inflamed area from cramps, there is still plenty more that can be done to not only support but to educate women on the benefits that they could be enjoying with marijuana products. 

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