'The Changes Are Astronomical': Women Particularly Appreciate How Cannabis Sector Has Turned Out

Stephen Andrews
26 Jul 2021

Buying pot today is no different than buying shoes. An augmented regulated market and growing public acceptance of cannabis has changed the consumer market. Women — both as consumers and business leaders — are its key players now.

Back in the day, marijuana was sold in brandless, lifeless pieces of plastic bags. Those who dared to promote its use were common to adopt sexually suggestive imagery for the most time offensive to women. Today, about half of the U.S. population lives in places where cannabis is a regulated commodity. Investments have poured into the sector, and with the flow of cash, everything has changed. 

Cannabis flower and accompanying products are sold in packages with top-notch vibrant design and branding. Labels on the packaging display clear product information. Any ingredients that go into these products are tested in a lab, and dosings with either THC or CBD are standardized.

Whether you buy decaf CBD coffee and CBD chocolate from Radek Chocolate or Skywalker OG THC pods from Stiiizy, the evolved packaging is eye-catching. And while all consumers gain from safer, regulated, easy-to-use products, according to a report from NBC News, women who are cannabis users say they particularly appreciate this evolved approach. 

Recreational user Meagan Tyler Shreve, 35, who owns a catering business in Virginia, told NBC News: "No more do I have to meet a creepy guy in a back alley to get a gram of no-name, gross weed. Now I get to walk into a retail store and purchase top-shelf, designer weed. The changes are astronomical," she said.

On the business side, when it combines to marketing marijuana products, "using bikinis and being offensive is a thing of the past," said Kristi Palmer, co-founder of Kiva Confections, a brand that has won awards for its weed edible products. “Cannabis brands and companies are getting with the program and professionalizing in a way that welcomes women into the space, thank God.”

Is the future of cannabis female?

With the onset of the pandemic, cannabis became a go-to remedy for a lot of people who had to deal with the sudden stress and burden of life under restrictions. According to cannabis sales data platform BDSA, legal cannabis sales skyrocketed by more than 45% during 2020, generating a total of $17,5 billion. 

With many new users turning 21, the age at which pot can be legally purchased where allowed, the one consumer group that saw the fastest growth since 2020 is Gen Z. The changing perception also plays its part. Younger consumers have spent much of their formative years in states where recreational use of cannabis is socially acceptable, and above all, legal. Gone are the days of propaganda against the use of cannabis, so it seems.

What analysis further reveals is that year-over-year sales for Gen Z women, defined as those born after 1996, grew the fastest in 2020 compared to any other cohort. This group grew remarkably at 151 percent, according to data from Headset, a cannabis analytics firm that collects data from point-of-sale registers. Gen Z men follow with 118 percent. And with about 50 percent and 30 percent sales growth, Millennials and Gen X, respectively, complete the top cohorts.

According to more Headset data, female Gen Z consumers are more prone to buy pre-rolled joints, edibles, and beverages. Although, flower remains the best-sold commodity among both men and women.  

“I don’t know how to roll joints, so I get the cones,” or pre-rolled papers that are filled with ground marijuana and sealed, Danielle Jordan, a 21-year-old who is studying to be an EKG technician, told NBC News. “They’re just so easy to stuff.”

"I just got super high, just floating and having a good time. We were all relaxed, got food, tanning. It all felt good," she said. When Jordan smokes, she says, "I just feel calmness coming over me... I don't feel like I have to be on the move."

Bethany Gomen, managing director at Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research agency, told NBC News shifting public attitudes and increasingly sophisticated design and packaging are helping drive the trend. 

“It’s more acceptable, more compact and packaged in a way that’s more feminine,” Gomez said. 

"The future of cannabis is female," she said. “An order of magnitude more.”

Beyond the consumer market becoming more appreciative for women, women are also filling in more business executive roles in the sector. And the trend is apparent. Women also come forward as change-makers within the industry. For instance, Khemia Manufacturing, which recently announced they are making their products available in Washington D.C., is an environmentally-conscious cannabis brand. Khemia is founded and led by women. 

Blounts & Moore, an LLC investing in cannabis, has a mission to seed marijuana businesses in the Deep South. Run by women, Blounts & Moore aims to put African American communities at the heart of their initiative and secure generational wealth for these communities. More about them is in this Rolling Stone feature

Those would be just two remarkable examples. Nearly 37% of executive-level positions in the cannabis sector were held by women in 2019, according to a study. It could be much more than that, but the figure does put to shame the 21% national average for other industries if it's some comfort.

Stephen Andrews