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Transcending the Stigma: One Woman’s Battle to Share Her Cannabis Awakening

Our conversation started out wonderfully. We were talking about the blacklisting some brands and companies have received from web platforms like Facebook, YouTube, etc. In a time when a journalist can be banned from the snowy house with the orange man, media sources not demoralizing the masses with flimsy drivel should be welcomed and cherished. And Facebook, for example, advocates that they “…do, however, allow people to debate or advocate for the legality of criminal activities, as well as address them in a rhetorical or satirical way.”

It’s enlightening to read stories regarding representatives of social media and networking companies micro-dosing psychedelics. They do this, it’s said, to be more productive, more creative. And yet, their big boss people  -minded artists from representing their own creativity. It was when we began questioning whether true social good was a general goal of some of these companies that we stepped into The Twilight Zone, and the call was dropped. Weird.

“I think some of these entities are scared of the government,” Windy commented. “They should stand with us; not against us.”Windy moved to Colorado in 2014. Once there, she’d heard that women were having success in the cannabis industry. While she was a not a cannabis user at the time, she marveled at the fact that more women were senior leaders in cannabis businesses than in other industries in the United States.

After speaking with about 100 people, Windy recognized that cannabis represented an “intersection for gender parity, social justice, and environmental sustainability”, which signified the “core values” Windy sought to explore. The stories and interactions Windy had were worth documenting, and so she encapsulated them on film. The stories of forty women from ten states were chronicled, each one connecting with those same core values outlined above. “We talked with people who were cultivators, or in medicine, legalization, business, and science and technology sectors of the cannabis industry”, Windy added.

The film is entitled Mary Janes:The Women of Weed. “We wanted to make a feminist film about cannabis,” Windy explained. But that goal met with odd challenges from the get-go. “We met some resistance, initially. We had to educate potential investors and donors, and defend our choice to make a film about women,” Windy continued. “There is a gender disparity in film, and that is also the case in science, and in cannabis. We had to show that you could invest in a film about cannabis, even though the plant may be federally illegal. So, I did a lot of educating on things like IRS tax code.”

It’s odd to hear that someone would have to defend the making of any film, nowadays, when seemingly everyone can make a video about anything, and upload it to YouTube. When there is so much absurdity available, one would think that a cool, introspective film about an increasingly less taboo topic like cannabis would be highly desirable. And in the cannabis grow, females rule. So, how is it exactly, that a cannabis film would mutate the evolution of our society, back into more prejudiced times?

“We faced similar challenges in promoting the film,” Windy conveyed. “When we were involved in a 2016 crowd-funding effort, the big three social media platforms shut us down. We had to restart all of our accounts. It cost us untold donations and funds.”

Screening the film for investors also provided obstacles. “You know, Hollywood tells us that cannabis is a joke or is dangerous,” she observed. “It’s either stoner types, or drug cartels. And the media represents people who work in cannabis in a specific way.”

Interestingly, Windy has also found that some companies basically get an exemption to exercise their branding and advertising on social media platforms, regardless of the content. But, rather biasedly, these rules are not for everyone. Not everyone has an equal right to the site. “We’re not being protected from that kind of censorship,” Windy added.

The film, though is a timely one. We were able to screen the film, and I can say that Breaking Bad is clearly more about drugs than this introspective snapshot into the personal and professional journeys of women who have become leaders in the cannabis industry. As more people look to cannabis for relief, everyone’s respective story, from consumers to entrepreneurs, can help quell any remaining stigmas. Just having the conversation is becoming more important, and it’s becoming easier to broach the subject. “We’re trying to bring along the canna-curious,” Windy added. “Everyone we meet who is a new cannabis user, wants to know ‘where can I buy different products’ and ‘who can I consult with to ask questions’”.

Mary Janes: The Women of Weed illustrates Windy’s journey, too, which began from the stance of skeptic. Some people close to her suffered from addiction to narcotics, and, growing up watching “I learned it from you, Dad”, or fried eggs meant to represent brains, she felt that cannabis was one of them. After she moved to Colorado, however, she began to visualize a different picture. One is which cannabis wasn’t the villain. She began to hear what had been previously unimaginable…that cannabis was medicine. Clearly one to pay attention to the data and not the stigma, Windy spread out her canvas, and began her research into this mysterious plant. And one by one, the cannabis farmers, scientists, and doctors Windy interviews share how they ended up here, and help show her the wonders they have witnessed.

So what was the outcome? Was Windy convinced? Was just having the conversation in the first place enough to change her? To learn that, you’ll need to watch the film, which wonderfully provides a twist, a surprise ending. The filmis currently available for theatrical and community screening. It’s also available in both French and Spanish subtitles. And while there are not current streaming or release dates, Windy is confident the film will be available in these formats in early 2019. “This is a global conversation,” Windy added. “We’re planning to turn the film into a docuseries, and talk to women around the world.”

About the author

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

Jason S. Lupoi, Ph.D.

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