Not your typical stoner…
Think of your typical marijuana user and what comes to mind? Dollars to donuts you’re picturing a bunch of guys sitting around a bong playing video games. Or maybe you see your older brother rolling a joint on a Friday night. Now be more specific and think of exactly “who” in your stereotype is using. Chances are, the subject is of the masculine persuasion. Public perception of a typical user is decidedly male. But the truth is, women get high too, and the numbers seem to be on the rise.
In anticipation of moving towards legalization, the Canadian fed’s launched a survey in 2018 to better understand the current and changing role of usage across the country. The survey provides a baseline estimate of who and how cannabis is being consumed. More significantly, it’ll give some insight on the impact of legalization once the data is collected in 2019.
According to the survey, 19.4% of males who responded used cannabis in the last quarter of 2018. In the same timeframe, only 11.3% of female respondents indicated they had consumed a product. The results for each quarter of 2018 are fairly similar, so legalization doesn’t seem to have had an immediate impact on usage. But if we look outside of the survey, things are appearing a bit different.
In conversation with Cultivated Cannabis, one of Alberta’s larger dispensaries, we’ve discovered numbers that differ dramatically from the federal survey. 60% of sales in the first quarter of 2019 were made to women, a significant increase over previous months. Of those sales, there’s a growing tendency towards CBD-oriented products.
Marijuana as a natural solution
“We feel there are two factors at play,” our contact at Cultivated Cannabis suggested. “One, legalization has helped crush the stigma around cannabis use, and people are curious. There’s a whole world to the cannabis market outside of smoking weed, and people are investigating it. Secondly, there’s a real push in Canada toward more nature-based lifestyles. Just as an example, the newest Canada Food Guide is mostly plant-based. Similarly, the public is looking at marijuana as a more natural solution to a whole range of ailments. We think women are leading in the “wellness” market, so they’re checking out CBD.”
But there might be more to it than just wellness and legalization. There have been very few studies to investigate how cannabis affects men and women differently. But one study has found that females have a greater sensitivity to the pain-relieving effects of THC. Due to how the chemical interacts with higher estrogen levels in women, there is a 30 percent difference in the benefit compared to their male counterparts. The logical extension then, is that when estrogen levels are highest – during a woman’s period – cannabis will give them greater pain relief.
A little goes a long way
The same study, however, also cautions that females develop a tolerance to the effects of cannabis quicker than males. This leads to greater consumption and possible dependency if the user isn’t careful. Women should choose strains that are lower in THC and balanced with CBD. In terms of THC, a little goes a long way for females, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.
As is the case with most research on cannabis, we’ve only scratched the surface. Now that marijuana is as legal as alcohol, hopefully we’ll be seeing greater funding for studies. One thing is clear though, women aren’t sitting at home with a glass of chardonnay while the boys are out toking up. They can be found rolling a spliff as readily as the men, and they’re probably better at it.