Betty Aldworth of Students for Sensible Drug Policy
The future of cannabis is female! December is DOPE Magazine’s Women’s Issue, and we wanted to continue to highlight women across the industry on all our platforms. We sent a questionnaire to outstanding women in cannabis—some familiar to us, some new—and will be showcasing their answers in individual blogs this month. Check out our December Mag for more profiles of the badass women you need to know!
Today’s story highlights Betty Aldworth, Executive Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP).
Q: Who are some of your greatest role models?
A: Honestly, it’s fellow SSDPers. Eleanor Roosevelt and Dolores Huerta and Diane Nash are exceptional leaders, but no one gives me hope like the young women in the SSDP network. They fully possess those same leadership skills, that same energy and charisma of brilliant leaders of the past, but they’ve unshackled themselves from tradition and expectation. They see the world is broken in many ways, and are compelled to fix it. They are uncompromising and fearless, and there are too many of them to name, so the world better make itself ready for change.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?
A: I’m a woman who grew up working class, advocating for a marginalized population on a fringe issue. My expertise is in the soft side of cannabis; not the things that will make a buck, but the ways you go about making that buck worth earning. It’s not easy to be taken seriously in business when you’re not talking in the language of capital, or in politics when you’re talking about young people and drugs.
Q: What’s something someone would never guess about you?
A: I’m very, very domestic in many ways. I could probably be just as happy living on a small farm, sustaining a simpler life—if we manage to abolish some of these injustices. I have a whole set of neglected skills like canning, gardening, knitting, baking, plumbing, basic construction, and cattle herding (and butchery!) that may come in handy someday. Oh, and: I haven’t finished my bachelor’s degree in philosophy, but I might someday.
Q: What’s your go-to self-care routine?
A: Botanical gardens, baths and yoga. I recommend that anyone who travels as much as I do finds an anchoring activity, and for me that’s botanical gardens. I’m a member of Denver Botanic Gardens, which gets me free access to most gardens in the U.S.
Q: Favorite “guilty pleasure”?
A: Massages and facials!
Q: Where do you see your career/business headed in five years? Twenty?
A: In five years, I hope to be turning our collective attention to the decriminalization of all drugs. In twenty? I hope we’ll be done with a massive overhaul of our criminal justice system, and I’ll be headed to a beach somewhere.
Q: How do you feel about the industry-wide assertion that cannabis is a female-friendly space?
A: It is dangerous to assert that, because we have outspoken and remarkable women in leadership, that cannabis is a female-friendly space. Budtenders, trimmers and young community activists still face the harassment, intimidation and day-to-day disempowerment faced in any movement or industry. Further, the cannabis space is populated by risk-takers and boundary-pushers; that’s great for a risky business, but portends harm in professional and interpersonal relationships. And it’s getting worse: as the industry mainstreams, it retains the romance of the Wild West and invites in all the institutionalized bias of the business world.
Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I wanted to be an activist and a teacher. Lucky me.
Q: What advice do you have for other women looking to get into the cannabis space?
A: Hold your space, girl, and find some women who have your back, always. You’re gonna need it.
Q: What’s the one thing you would bring if you were stranded on a desert island?
A: A Leatherman.
Q: What do you hope for the future of the cannabis industry?