Cassius Cover March Issue 2018
Black Women Smokers

Source: iOne Creative / iOne Creative

The CASSIUS team dedicated our March cover to Black women and marijuana because we recognize the stigmas that prevent many sisters from embracing cannabis in any way, shape or form…as well as the fact that there are many who use it privately out of fear of being ostracized or judged by their peers, partners, relatives, neighbors, etc. We’ve even heard of situations in which multiple marijuana-loving women have sat in the same room, lied through their teeth about having ever tried weed at all and went home to go smoke, all the while wishing they could have just told the truth.

We got a few of our favorite Black women cannabis enthusiasts to open up about how/when/why they use marijuana, the impact that weed has had on their lives and what their loved ones know (or don’t know) about their consumption. Some names and identifying details have been changed.

Name: Danielle B.

Age: 33

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Current location: Same

Industry/job title: Education/prefer not to say

Relationship Status: Single

Children: None

Do you own or work for a business that sells cannabis products of any sort? I sell edibles/ointments/lubricants to several men and women who have not been approved by their doctors to attain a medical card to purchase marijuana from legal dispensaries. Their health concerns include Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, and different types of cancer.  In Illinois, there are many people who are unable to access medical marijuana through their doctors because of the influence of pharmaceutical companies. I believe this is a major problem for people of color, and for women in general.

Are you involved with any efforts around legalization/decriminalization? No.

Are you subject to drug testing by your employer or any other entity? During the application process, my organization requires a screening, but employees are not routinely or randomly tested unless the employer suspects drug use.

How often do you use marijuana, and how do you typically consume it? On average, I consume marijuana 3-4 days per week. I prefer edibles over smoking, but I also vape, use medicated ointments/lubricants, and smoke with hemp cones.

When did you first try marijuana? When I was a sophomore in college, I smoked for the first time with an upperclassman friend who also the campus ‘plug.’ I didn’t know what I was doing, so I didn’t get high. I was 26 when I had my first successful session, thanks to a now-former lover who taught me what to do. That was one of my best marijuana experiences to date and I’ve been a regular consumer ever since.

Why do you use marijuana? Marijuana helps me to relax and decompress, but I also use it socially, during sex and when I need to be creative (I.E. while planning for work or writing for pleasure.) For the past year, I have been making edibles for both friends and to sell to customers, many of whom are battling chronic health issues. I’ve also used it for my own healing and pain management. For example, when I broke my ankle last year, I found a THC infused ointment recipe that was immensely helpful.

How was marijuana discussed in your household when you were growing up? My late mother told my siblings and I that marijuana was bad. Her depictions often made me conclude that people who used it were incompetent, uneducated, failures, etc. To my knowledge, she didn’t indulge in marijuana and looked down on those who did. My father, however, has smoked since he was a young man. He hid this from us until we were adults.

I’d likely keep my own consumption secret from my children too because it’s something I didn’t deal with until I was fully-grown and financially independent and I’d want the same for them. However, I would however provide my child with marijuana if they were sick and it could treat their illness.

Is your family aware of your marijuana use? Your friend circle? Your partner? What are their feelings about it? Do they partake with you?

My closest friends and family members are aware, and many of them enjoy marijuana with me. As stated before, I make edibles and other infused products and they often purchase my goods for themselves or their own loved ones.

Do you think most of the Black women in your life are comfortable with marijuana? Why or why not? By and large, I still think marijuana consumption among Black, educated, professional women is still a very taboo subject. Quite frankly, marijuana use for women in general, regardless of socio-economic status is still taboo. There are so many women that I talk to that feel shame about partaking in weed because of the misconception that those who indulge are of a lower class, lazy, incompetent, unattractive, less spiritually connected to their God, uneducated, bad group of people. Historically, Black women might also fear accepting the positive aspects of marijuana because we have witnessed so many of our Black brothers and sisters incarcerated for drug related crimes. The narrative on marijuana should be shaped in an entirely different way that highlights how marijuana can combat insomnia, PTSD, depression and other issues involving mental illness, nausea/loss of appetite related to different forms of cancer, hypertension, etc. These are issues in which Black women often are leading the statistics for, but rarely access marijuana because of the negative connotations associated with it.

Have you or a loved one ever had legal issues related to marijuana? How has this impacted your thoughts on consumption? ? I dated a man who sold marijuana. He was arrested for possession and distribution after a client of his told police rolled on him to avoid jail time. I definitely understand the risks associated with consumption and selling, but it has not decreased my involvement with marijuana. I am however, extremely cautious about being caught so I try my best to be as discreet as possible.

Have you ever experienced judgment for your marijuana consumption? If so, from whom? Most of the people I know have been supportive of my efforts to provide cannabis products to others as well my own social use. However, I did have one friend who was very critical before decriminalization efforts changed the laws in Illinois.

Do you think more Black women should integrate cannabis into their lives? Absolutely. I watch Viceland’s great coverage of decriminalization efforts and the booming cannabis industry and I want my people to monopolize on these opportunities. Life is challenging for Black women across the world. Marijuana has aided me with bouts of depression, helped me manage pain, allowed me to feel relaxed enough to show off my best dance moves when I’m partying and, if I can be completely honest, helped me to orgasm on more than a few occasions. Cannabis should be accessible and legalized for all to enjoy.


Name: “Aliyah R.”

Age: 30

Hometown: A small town in Missouri

Current location: NYC

Industry/job title: Teaching artist

Relationship Status: Married

Children: Two toddlers

Do you own or work for a business that sells cannabis products of any sort? No

Are you involved with any efforts around legalization/decriminalization? Not formally. However, I try to share research and promote a positive cannabis view in my social interactions.

Are you subject to drug testing by your employer or any other entity? No

How often do you use marijuana, and how do you typically consume it? Everyday! I use a variety of methods, including vape pens, teas, edibles, etc.

When did you first try marijuana? I was about 16.

Why do you use marijuana? I use marijuana because I grew up around it. Marijuana had a positive connotation amongst my family members, as they were growers, users and/or sellers.

How was marijuana discussed in your household when you were growing up? My family described it as an herb. I know it was primarily consumed in the house. My dad explained that he couldn’t afford childcare or summer camp and selling the herb allowed him to make money as well as spend the summer with us

How have/do you plan to discuss it with your own children (if applicable)? I plan to describe it as an herb as well; an herb that helps people with a variety of healthcare issues that chemical drugs cannot like other herbs such as oregano, lavender, sage, and mint.

Is your family aware of your marijuana use? Your friend circle? Your partner? What are their feelings about it? Yes, everyone in my life is aware of my marijuana use and most of them partake. It’s an expectation at family gatherings.

Do you think most of the Black women in your life are comfortable with marijuana? Why or why not? Most of the Black women in my life are comfortable with it as long as no one else is aware of their usage. I assume this is because of the misconceptions and stereotypes associated with it..

Have you or a loved one ever had legal issues related to marijuana? How has this impacted your thoughts on consumption? Both my parents have been incarcerated due to their involvement in an underground industry. I’ve had relatives in the military be dishonorably discharged because of their use to help them cope, even when they weren’t provided proper mental health care. This has made me even more passionate about our people having access to legal marijuana.

Have you ever experienced judgment for your marijuana consumption? If so, from whom? I experience judgment from older Black women in my sorority, church, and my partner’s family. They are constantly sending me articles with misinformation about the ills of marijuana.

Do you think more Black women should integrate cannabis into their lives? If anyone should integrate cannabis into their lives it is Black Women. The stress we collect every day by simply existing along with our ancestral memory and PTSD living in our DNA deserves a break. Cannabis is the force that can pull us out of our depression naps as well as soothe the pain that causes them.


Name: Nakia H.

Age: 40, but I look 32! (Ed. Note: She really does look 32.)

Hometown: A major urban city

Current location: Same.

Industry/job title: Entertainment industry

Relationship Status: Depends on the day

Children: One child, aged 5

Do you own or work for a business that sells cannabis products of any sort? No

Are you involved with any efforts around legalization/decriminalization? No

Are you subject to drug testing by your employer or any other entity? No

How often do you use marijuana, and how do you typically consume it? It varies; sometimes it’s daily, but I often can go weeks it. I smoke with cones or rolling papers.

When did you first try marijuana? I was a 17-year-old college freshman,

Why do you use marijuana? I suffer from intense anxiety and depression and unlike alcohol, it helps me feel better when these issues flare up.

How was marijuana discussed in your household when you were growing up? It wasn’t discussed specifically, but I conflated it as a part of a larger drug issue within my family. As a kid, I thought crack and weed were the same.

How have/do you plan to discuss it with your own children (if applicable)? I haven’t given it any thought. I suppose by the time he’s old enough to really discuss it, the stigmas will be removed, laws changed and we can talk from a different perspective.

Is your family aware of your marijuana use? Your friend circle? Your partner? What are their feelings about it? My family and friends are aware of it, but not my ex-boyfriend, who is the father of my child. I do worry about him lecturing me or, worse, attempting to use it against me somehow. Everyone else is aware and they understand why marijuana helps me so. The closest folks to me smoke and we often do it together, including my mother.

Do you think most of the Black women in your life are comfortable with marijuana? Why or why not? The majority of women in my circle are accepting. The few that don’t partake of cannabis in any form, generally don’t give me a hard time. But I also understand how rare this is, especially when it comes to older Black American women.

Have you or a loved one ever had legal issues related to marijuana? How has this impacted your thoughts on consumption? My mother got a ticket smoking a joint after work some years ago. Other than that, it hasn’t been an issue. Thank God! I’m a neurotic, so I’m way too scared to smoke weed or carry a vape in public. That incident only reinforced that notion. Buying weed and getting caught is such a frightening idea to me, so I have to rely on other folks for the ‘get down.’

Have you ever experienced judgment for your marijuana consumption? If so, from whom? I once dated a man who is in the military and gave me a difficult time about it, but I understood his issues (which were mostly around the law.)

Do you think more Black women should integrate cannabis into their lives? Absolutely, YES! I believe that Black women should consider anything that can help improve their health and increase their quality of life, especially single moms that have such a huge load to bear.


Name: Rachel Cooper Johnson

Age: 33

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Current location: Southern California

Industry/job title: Cannabis! I am the inventory manager and human resources Director for a dispensary

Relationship Status: Married

Children: None

Do you own or work for a business that sells cannabis products of any sort? I work for a delivery dispensary, in Southern CA. I also consult with minorities who are trying to get in the industry on proper steps and connections.

Are you involved with any efforts around legalization/decriminalization? I lobby (not as much recently, personal choice) state and local officials on the benefits of delivery services and how Los Angeles’s social equity program can thrive through delivery. At this time, there is no license available for Non-Storefront Retail Locations in L.A., which hurts minority owners who have delivery services and patients who can’t make it to the traditional dispensaries.

Are you subject to drug testing by your employer or any other entity? No, thank God! I’m actually encouraged to try the products so we can accurately discuss them with patients, although, this is not considered medical advice.

How often do you use marijuana, and how do you typically consume it? Daily, and I prefer to smoke it.

When did you first try marijuana? When I was a freshman in college (2003). Not long after my first time, I got an internship with AURN and they drug tested me. I promised Jesus if I passed, I wouldn’t smoke again. That promise lasted until 2011, when I learned of the medicinal benefits.

Why do you use marijuana? I’m A LOT. I get stressed easily, remain anxious, have gastrointestinal issues, and terrible PMS. In the past, I’ve been prescribed anti-anxiety meds and a number of narcotics since I was a teen. NONE of that shit worked. I smoked Cherry Pie (my first named strain) and learned what relaxation feels like. I knew I had found something special.

How was marijuana discussed in your household when you were growing up? I’m the daughter of a retired Pastor and Judge. I’m also a D.A.R.E. kid. The only discussions I had with him were that weed was bad and hoodlums did it. Additionally, the bible says to obey the laws of the land. So I had Jesus and the police to be worried about if I ever came home high. I was getting a double whammy from him. My mother was different. She always spoke very positively about weed. Said she smoked it as a teen, and if she ever had the chance she would again. She was dope (pun intended) for that. As far as my future kids are concerned, marijuana is a complex drug. When you breakdown the benefits of just CBD alone, I think that’s safe for kids to understand, like they understand aspirin. THC is when it starts getting fuzzy and that’s a conversation for their teenage years.

Is your family aware of your marijuana use? Your friend circle? Your partner? What are their feelings about it? Do they partake with you? I’m the ‘square’ of my family, when I started smoking regularly, everyone took notice. Seriously, not only was I a square, I was loud in my condemnation of weed smokers. Moving to California changed my life. I don’t mean this in a hyperbolic way, but marijuana saved my life, my marriage, and my future. There were days when I genuinely couldn’t function because of stomach or anxiety issues. There were times when my husband and I couldn’t utter a kind word to each other because of a long day at work, until we smoked. He’s the reason I smoke and I’ll forever be grateful to him. He knew it would help, and promises to Jesus aside, marijuana allowed me to be a regular citizen in the real world. Once people who know and love me saw this, they came to understand just why I’m so passionate about. Now they all partake with me when they’re in town. (Well, my dad isn’t there just yet, but he wouldn’t be fun to smoke with anyway!)

Do you think most of the Black women in your life are comfortable with marijuana? Why or why not? Yes, but only because of who I am. I’ve been a very loud advocate for marijuana for the past several years. I have convinced most members of my family of the benefits. Even if they choose not to partake, they no longer judge me for my choices. I believe they are also becoming advocates for it themselves. However, most of the Black women in my life are in the South or on the East Coast and it’s hard to get my message through to them when the law says otherwise. Most of them are just scared to mess with weed. To be honest, from a legal standpoint, they should be.

Have you or a loved one ever had legal issues related to marijuana? How has this impacted your thoughts on consumption? My dad was a judge, so I was in the middle of the war on drugs. While none of my family members went down for marijuana, it seemed like everyone else was. I just figured it was better to stay away from it since it ruined so many lives.

Have you ever experienced judgment for your marijuana consumption? If so, from whom? ABSOLUTELY! Daily! Even if people agree with consumption, they often have strong opinions on the method (edibles, vaping, smoking, etc) and frequency, and unless they truly believe it’s a medicinal tool, there’s always some judgment. If you smoke joints or blunts, you’re likely going to smell like it, and marijuana ain’t pleasant smelling. Get into an Uber and see what rating you’ll get if you smell ‘loud’. And that’s in California. A whole PR campaign has to happen for this to change and we don’t have the support from the Federal Government to get it out far and wide.

Do you think more Black women should integrate cannabis into their lives? ONLY if they need it—and the vast majority of us really, really do. But cannabis is still medicinal first, in my opinion. I’m not going to suggest an antibiotic to someone who doesn’t have an infection. If you suffer from insomnia, anxiety issues, PMS, migraines, aches and pains in your body, stomach issues, lack of creativity, etc, then you may want to try it out, but do your research and start small. Like with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. Responsibility is critical.


Name: “Pot Mama”

Age: 42

Hometown: Brooklyn NY

Current location: See above

Industry/job title: Consultant

Relationship Status: Married

Children: One son, age 5

Do you own or work for a business that sells cannabis products of any sort? If so, explain. Yes, the business I work for provides consulting services to the cannabis industry.

Are you involved with any efforts around legalization/decriminalization? If so, explain.  Our company is helping to dismantle stereotypes and misinformation about cannabis, and educate consumers about the medicinal uses of the plant.

Are you subject to drug testing by your employer or any other entity? No.

How often do you use marijuana, and how do you typically consume it? I’m a casual user, so perhaps once or twice a week. I don’t like the feeling of smoke in my lungs, so I stick to my vape pen.

When did you first try marijuana? I tried it in college, but I didn’t feel anything. I started using cannabis seriously when I began dating my now husband.

Why do you use marijuana? It helps with a laundry list of ailments from arthritis to migraines and menstrual cramps.

How was marijuana discussed in your household when you were growing up? How have/do you plan to discuss it with your own children (if applicable)? We didn’t talk about it at all growing up, even though my mother and most of her siblings smoked on the front porch.  I want to be as honest as possible with my son, and when he’s older, I’ll explain to him that it’s medicine.

Is your family aware of your marijuana use? Your friend circle? Your partner? What are their feelings about it? Do they partake with you? Most of my friends and loved ones are also users, but those that aren’t respect my choice, because they trust my decision-making abilities. My usage has helped them view cannabis through a less judgmental and negative lens.

Do you think most of the Black women in your life are comfortable with marijuana? Why or why not? My friends and I came of age during hip-hop’s mainstreaming of cannabis, when Snoop and Dr. Dre made the plant less illicit and more cool. While many of them don’t regularly partake, they aren’t averse to a little puff, puff passing during social functions.

Have you or a loved one ever had legal issues related to marijuana? How has this impacted your thoughts on consumption? No, thankfully.

Have you ever experienced judgment for your marijuana consumption? If so, from whom? No.

Do you think more Black women should integrate cannabis into their lives? Even if you don’t have illnesses that cannabis can treat, its value as a stress reliever is unmatched. Black women carry America’s burdens on our backs, and I can’t think of a better way to unwind. I’d take a few pulls over a glass of Chardonnay anytime. —

 

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