Despite the fact that the cannabis industry seems to be full of female employees, you don’t see nearly as many on the patient side of the counter. Women often elect not to go into dispensaries to get their medicine, opting to send a male friend or significant other instead. It’s not that women aren’t smoking cannabis—according to a 2016 Gallup Poll, 12% of men & 7% of women regularly smoke cannabis, with 48% of men & 34% of women saying that they have tried cannabis at some point in their life. These numbers indicate that there shouldn’t be such a noticeable difference in how many men & how many women go to dispensaries, but there is.
As a female medical cannabis patient, I understand where these women are coming from. Before I found The Higher Path, I went to several different dispensaries trying to find a place where I not only felt comfortable getting my medicine, but respected by the people working there. This was a much bigger struggle than I imagined it would be. I grew up on the East Coast where walking into a store to get cannabis was something I had only dreamed about, so I had this beautiful vision in my mind of coming to California & finally not having to deal with a sketchy “Weed Man” every time I wanted cannabis. Unfortunately, the only difference between obtaining cannabis on the East Coast & California seemed to be that I was going to the “Weed Man” at a shop instead of a house—there were still random guys hitting on me & speaking to me like I knew nothing about cannabis. I tried to eliminate this issue by deciding what I wanted before I came in so that all I had to do was tell them my order, but then I would be accused of being “cold” or “rude” because I didn’t want to stay & talk. Every time I would go into the budroom to find that I was alone with a male budtender & male security guard, I felt uneasy. Nothing ever happened, but I always felt like I needed to have my wits about me; that I needed to be careful. As someone who uses cannabis to treat anxiety, this whole situation felt counter-intuitive—getting my medicine shouldn’t cause me more anxiety than not having it, but it did. Admittedly, I even considered the idea that perhaps medical cannabis dispensaries weren’t for me & I should try to find a local connect. I’m certain I’m not the only woman who has felt this way—experiences like mine are all too common amongst the female cannabis community & are likely the reason why many women avoid dispensaries, despite the fact that they use cannabis.
When I finally did stumble upon The Higher Path, I was blown away. This was the place I’d been dreaming about. From the moment I walked in, I felt safe & relaxed. I was greeted by a friendly woman at the front desk & noticed that there were several other women working in the back. The anxiety I had become so accustomed to feeling when I went to dispensaries started to fade as I waited in the lobby, surrounded by beautiful art & sunlight pouring in through the front windows. It occurred to me that this was the first dispensary I had been to where I didn’t feel like I was trapped in a cage—there were no bars or tint covering the windows. The experience only got better when I was let back into the budroom. I was greeted by several female employees, all of which weren’t dressed in the typical low-cut tops & booty shorts that so many women in the industry are forced to wear. As we began talking about what I was looking for & why I used cannabis, I felt a connection with my budtender that I hadn’t experienced at any other dispensary. These women actually cared about me & wanted to find what would work best for me, not just their favorite or most expensive strain. I walked out the door onto Ventura Blvd after that first visit & knew that I would be back—I had finally found my place.
Women are such an under-served market in the cannabis industry & that’s why Jerred Kiloh decided to open The Higher Path in the first place. He wanted to create a space where women felt safe getting their medicine & could actually talk to their budtender about their ailments. (You’d be surprised by how many budtenders have no desire to hear about why you use cannabis, much less have an in-depth conversation about which products could be helpful & why.) One of the ways that we cater to women at The Higher Path is by having a predominately female staff that isn’t just “eye candy”—the women who work here are intelligent, driven & compassionate leaders in the cannabis industry. There’s something very comforting about walking into a dispensary & seeing a person behind the counter that you can actually relate to. You end up revealing more about yourself & your ailments, which in turn allows your budtender to make more personalized recommendations to suit your needs. And I don’t know about you, but when a dispensary clearly respects & empowers their female employees I feel more respected as a patient as well.
Here at The Higher Path, we believe every patient deserves to get their medicine at a location where they feel both comfortable & respected regardless of their gender—that’s why our percentage of female patients is so much higher than other dispensaries’. Due to the double standard regarding female cannabis use, we still see more male patients than women; however, the gap is continuing to close. We hope that by providing women with a location that they feel proud to get their cannabis from that more women will start feeling comfortable being open about their cannabis use. The stigma won’t go away if we remain silent, ladies—so step on out of the “green closet” & take The Higher Path!