Community around cannabis is a gift that we have been historically robbed of. As weed smokers, cannabis activists, and entrepreneurs, we have been forced to live in the shadows and hide our relationship with the queen of plants. I encourage everyone to come out of the cannabis closet and speak openly. Only then can we wash away more than 70 years of prohibition and the stigma of the past, evolving into a new era of exploration and reverence for this plant.
I am honored and proud to be the founder of Women of Weed (WOW). Among our ranks are activists, growers, patients, naturopaths, nurses, herbalists, extractors, hash makers, entrepreneurs, political analysts, agronomists, inventors, scientists, graphic designers, published writers, photographers, and publishers. We are CEOs, COOs and CFOs, 502 producers, processors, and retailers, lawyers, lobbyists, international cannabis experts, and policy advisors. Currently, there are 128 participants. At full capacity there will be 200 Women of Weed in Washington and 100 Honorary Women of Weed from around the country and the world, totaling 300.
In May of 2013, nine brave female souls gathered at my house in Magnolia for the first Women of Weed celebration. We have continued to gather monthly for almost three years. We have had clothing exchanges, jewelry-making and slumber parties, bonfires, extraction demonstrations, and karaoke nights. Throughout those events, lots of beautiful food, cocktails, and weed has been shared. About half of our events are members only: members can bring a guest to several events every year. We have an annual holiday mixer and welcome husbands, boyfriends, and partners (all privacy boundaries still apply).
WOW is the result of my own need for community within the cannabis space. From 1995 to 2007, I ran a hemp company, and my only cannabis support came from my best friend Kelley. Kelley has yet to come to a single WOW event, despite being a true woman of weed. A felony conviction for growing cannabis, along with the imposed social shame and financial burden, has kept this goddess closeted and timid about being “out” in any way, even today.
The vast majority of participants are out of the closet and have no problem being photographed, but let us not forget that people are still going to prison and losing their children over cannabis use. For this, Women of Weed is now private, and will remain so. Media has never been allowed inside our celebrations. While photography is permitted at our events, sharing photos publically is prohibited, unless every single person in the photo agrees to it. Call me old school, but I believe that the best parts of life still happen, even when they’re not posted on social media. Sometimes all that picture taking and posting takes away from the joy of the moment.
Women of Weed is a Washington state private social club that’s intended to provide a private, celebratory respite and source of empowerment for its dedicated cannabis industry and movement participants. I have fought to keep true my vision in tact, making WOW a social club where we simply enjoy, support, and love each other. We have taken great effort to keep the focus on the individual women and their particular dreams, not on the group itself.
- Women of Weed is not a secret society. There is no clandestine activity, no women smoking weed in lingerie, and no plots are being forged to push away our cannabis brothers. If you are a cannabis brother who supports, loves, and respects your cannabis sisters, we support, love, and respect you right back.
- Women of Weed does not accept event sponsorships of any kind: there is no buy-in. WOW events are exclusively hosted by signed participants on a voluntary basis. There are no dues or membership fees. However, every member must sign a participation agreement that covers everything from liability waivers and use of the WOW logo to inviting event guests and sponsoring new Women of Weed.
- Women of Weed has no email list, even for use by WOW members themselves. All personal questions, business pitches, and activist pleas are not to be made at WOW celebrations. Instead, we use our private Facebook group, where all signed members can network freely.
- Women of Weed does not promote, endorse, condemn, or condone anything, except maybe the removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
- Women of Weed is not a business association or an activist group. The only agenda at our gatherings is to have no agenda.
In an act of empowerment, each of the original 100 members has one spot in the second 100 to give to the cannabis woman of her choice. These new members should be women who have sacrificed personally and given themselves freely for the greater good of the cannabis community. NORML Women of Washington, MJBA Women’s Alliance, and Hempfest are all great places where work is actually being done. Get involved in any cannabis organization and you will naturally find us. WOW sisters are everywhere and there are still 83 open spots for Washington women.
My goal is to clear up misconceptions and illustrate that WOW is actually all about being inclusive, but the most important message is to encourage others to form similar social groups. We are here for fun and support, and our intent is to get together away from the pressures that we carry in the worlds of business and activism. Spending real time in a community—not virtual time—will benefit everyone involved. The larger cannabis community will be stronger, healthier, and happier for it.
I am grateful to all of the Women of Weed for taking part in this grand social experiment. I am excited to see all of their accomplishments, and look forward to the ones we will share in the future. These women have been there for me, supporting me and bringing joy to my journey. I am forever grateful and in their debt.
Ah Warner is the Founder and CEO of Cannabis Basics, Seattle’s own since 1995. She has a bachelor’s in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Washington. She is a guiding member of NORML Women of Washington and recently received a special MJBA Women’s Alliance award for focus and dedication to the women in Washington’s cannabis industries.