Women Are Stepping Up For Legalization

A new CBS poll released on 4/20 is the first to show majority female support for marijuana legalization in the US. Though still trailing the 59% of men who are in favor of legalization, 54% of women now say they support it too.

Last year’s CBS poll found that only 43% of women were pro-legalization, versus 54% of men, an 11-point gap. This year’s poll narrows the gap to 5 points and represents an 11% jump in support from women in only one year’s time.

National polls in recent years have shown women’s support for legalization as high as 48%, but always trailing men’s approval by 8-13 points. Women are also around 15% less likely to admit that they have tried marijuana.

The same is true regionally: in Florida a 2015 Quinnipac poll found again 57% of men supported legalization and only 46% of women did. And if marijuana were to be legalized for recreational use in the state, 70 percent of women said they would ‘definitely not use’ it, compared to 59 percent of men.

Similarly in Ohio, there was a 12% differential between men at 59% support and women at 47%; and 71 percent of women, and only 57 percent of men, said they would ‘definitely not use’ legal marijuana.

But now perhaps we have reached a tipping point on women coming over to seeing the light of legalization. When I checked in January of this year, Cal NORML’s Twitter followers were 75% male, down from 85% a few months earlier; they’re now down to 66% male, a 20% drop in less than 6 months.

One reason for the shift, I think, is the increased number of female leaders at NORML chapters across the country, changing the perception of what a marijuana enthusiast looks like and giving women voters a greater comfort zone to voice their own support. A quick list of those leaders compiled by NORML Outreach Coordinator Kevin Mahmalji are:

  • Eleanore Ahrens – Southeast Ohio NORML
  • Vera Allen – Minnesota NORML
  • Trish Bertrand – Springfield NORML
  • Roseann Boffa – Los Angeles NORML
  • Cara Bonin – Houston NORML
  • Jes Bossems – Jefferson Area, Virginia NORML
  • Monica Chavez – New Mexico NORML
  • Cynthia Ferguson – Delaware NORML
  • Jax Finkle – Texas NORML
  • Karen Goldstein – Florida NORML
  • Kandice Hawes – Orange County, California NORML
  • Laura Judy – National Office
  • Jamie Kacz – Kansas City NORML
  • Danielle Keane – National Office
  • Ellen Komp – California NORML
  • Jessica Lee – Nacogdoches NORML
  • Jenni Morgan – National Office
  • Cher Neufer – Ohio NORML
  • Theresa Nightingale – Pittsburgh NORML
  • Danica Noble – NORML Women of Washington
  • Pam Novy – Virginia NORML
  • Jenn Michelle Pedini – Richmond NORML
  • Jordan Person – Denver NORML
  • Sharron Ravert – Peachtree, Georgia NORML
  • Carrie Satterwhite – Wyoming NORML
  • Mary Smith – Toledo NORML
  • Jessica Struzik – Northern Wisconsin NORML
  • Danielle Vitale – O’Brien – Miami Valley, Ohio NORML
  • Destiny Young – San Antonio NORML

Women everywhere are getting the message. “It is not as harmful as alcohol … It also helps medical conditions as a more natural substitute to pharmaceuticals,” one 46-year-old woman told Pew pollsters in 2015. “I think crime would be lower if they legalized marijuana,” said another woman, aged 62. “It would put the drug dealers out of business.”

Campaigns directed at women in states with legalization measures seem to have had an effect. Only 49 percent of women polled in favor of Colorado’s 2012 legalization measure, but 53 percent of them voted for it. The majority of women voters in Washington State also voted in favor of that state’s measure to legalize.

Many people are aware that women helped bring about alcohol prohibition in 1919. What many don’t know is that women were also instrumental in repealing prohibition, notably Pauline Sabin, the Republican socialite for whom NORML’s award recognizing women’s leadership is named. It seems that women are now also key in bringing about marijuana legalization.

21 thoughts

  1. My everyday experience has always been that there are plenty of women in the crowd of people who enjoy marijuana. So, I’ve always been puzzled by the statistical differences described above, although I could speculate as to why.
    First, while there’s more than one cannabis culture, from urban to redneck, from hippie to yuppie, and so on, mostly they all tend to be male dominated cultures, and often sexist as a result, I must admit. Very often in stoner media, naked women titalate the reader with cannabis buds and various paraphanalia; it would be understandable if many women weren’t into being just another adornment to a man’s bong! Men’s magazines will be what they are; but THC and CBD are medicines that are better suited for discussion on the pages of pediatric journals and research dissertations.
    Perhaps what’s changed is that people are starting to see that cannabis is for everybody. As cannabis consumers step out from the shadows, we find we’re surprisingly varied demographically. Now, these days, the use of cannabis, and/or possible subsequent political endorsement, does not constrain one’s identity as it once might have done. And, in legalized states, it’s obviously less risky now. It’s no longer neccessary to “know someone” or “have a connection.” Less sketchy, perhaps, for women, who may have more to lose in general (one word: kids.)
    In any case, it’s great to have more women aboard!

  2. Absolutely Ellen! I noticed the above-%50 favorable polls for women right away when I saw that CBS poll (almost as fast as I saw the ridiculous propaganda CBS supported in another article concerning the IQ of marijuana consumers… It’s a whipsawed easily-purchased corporate media out there, but we need these polls!)
    Here in Texas I recently met with Jax Finkle as wellas Heather Fazio from MPP backed Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy and I can testify that female leaders are shaping marijuana policy and image here, and often on the mike and the bullhorn during meetings and marches.
    Now how will this affect Hillary’s marijuana policy? Hmmm… Keep pressuring her NORML! And I don’t care who grills her; man or woman, Norml chapter director or board member just keep getting her to answer on camera!!!
    Meanwhile we will keep working diligently at the lical level to settle the scorecard for local Sherriffs and state legislatures. We can only do this together, men and women, no secrets, no obstacles too great.

    1. I suppose I should elaborate on “secrets.” Can’t let that hang out there to the imagination, readers are gonna think I have marital problems. (Well, to be fair, who doesn’t, just create marital solutions.
      Anyway, what I mean by no “secrets” is we need to keep including women in the conversation, and if she disagrees with the smoke find a spot in the back yard, or wherever away from the kids, but be honest with the kids too. “You can’t talk to anyone at school about Daddy smoking, not even to your teacher,” is necessary by 6 years old for girls, and 8 for boys. (Hey, girls mature faster, and for good reason).
      The stigma of smoke and arrest can be desensitized with a vaporizer at family gatherings, but the stigma of a lie is not so easily forgotten. If we tell lies like prohibition has we have lost the battle before it has begun… And this war on the poor called the CSAct has been going on since Kingdom come. It’s going to take every mother, brother and sister to wake this nation up out of prohibition, and I’m proud to see our women so bravely being honest in the polls.

  3. I am not an “enthusiast”. If it is legalized I have no interest in using any, especially if I have to pay for it. But I know there are many who are enthusiasts and by and large they create no problems for anyone else. I think it is a mistake to wait for those not in favor to become enthusiasts. To that group (many of whom sit in state legislatures), it should be sold as a part of freedom and a cost-cutting measure.

    1. perhaps your enthusiasm will grow if you consider how marijuana use is associated with everything from smaller waistlines and increased physical activity to reduced relapse rates in treatment of opioid dependence. Also protective against Alzheimer’s and cancer, diabetes, to name a few. Also has been shown to reduce or eliminate long term effects from traumatic brain injuries.

    2. Fair enough. I would only like to add a quick reminder that cannabis, regardless of its political perception or the number of “enthusiasts” it may have, is a pharmaceutically beneficial medicine, with many great medical benefits, and few if any negative side effects. This much is science, not politics, not entertainment. I bring this reminder because I believe that once society gets used to the concept of cannabis normalization, and it no longer sees cannabis as a threat, or even a big deal, THEN I think the full medical benefits will truly begin to be utilized by humanity. This will be the real payoff, not a cost, for society at large.

  4. Why are women being hailed as the savior’s of the cannabis movement? When historically men have assumed almost all the burden, men have lost their freedom their KIDS keeping this movement alive men have perfected growing techniques. While women sat on the sidelines and watched them. We carry the ball all the way to the one yard line and now you wanna claim that you are instrumental in turning minds around. Mabey if women had sacked up sooner we wouldn’t have to talk about this anymore, “see last paragraph” women are instrumental in repealing prohibition, way to wait till the last minute, that’s like the fire department showing up after your house is three quarters of the way burnt and expecting you to thank them for putting out the fire. You shoulda gotten here sooner

    [Editor’s note: Spoken like a…man…which is THE problem.]

    1. Hey Geoff; it’s just part of the leadership thing. How would you feel if women had been the leaders from the start in the legalization process? Actually, it was men who got us into this mess, and it is only reasonable men should get us out of it (thankfully with women’s help).

    2. @Geof; Uhm… Because women vote? Because a woman will likely be our next president and responds to what a majority of women say? Because we were born from a woman and are more often the ones administrating medicine
      … And our collective concept if medicine… to us as children?

      @ editor;
      Come on, let’s not feed the angry bear; Geof’s comments can’t be taken as a model of THE problem with prohibition and legalization. The process by which we educate eachother and deprogram the fear and propaganda has to be able to reach everyone, man or woman and solve ALL the obstacles to legalization. If you want to hear a man speak like a man, then let’s get to the real issue that as much as we men love our weed we need to put our women first, tell the truth and try to understand that whats good for us may not be good for her… So maybe I like to smoke, but she would prefer a relaxing massage with cannabis oils… We’re all different, even our Congressman, and it won’t hurt us at all in this movement to appreciate our differences and respect ourselves in the process.

  5. I had a discectomy with spinal fusion in January. I’m a 54 year old female. My surgeon said I healed up within a month. He said he’s never seen anything like it and wanted to know if I’m taking any hormones that would account for it. I told him no. I wanted to tell him, but couldn’t due to legal reasons, that marijuana is responsible. I smoke cigarettes too, so I that should have slowed down or stopped the healing process for a woman my age. Ha! Take that DEA!!!

  6. Of course it is easier for the powerful (white men) to demand their rights, while the oppressed (women and people of color) are not only the primary targets of Prohibition, but as a consequence, far less able to exert their political power and demand their freedom.

    It’s hard for women to climb out from underneath the rock of prohibitionist oppression, when the consequence is the removal of her child by the state.

    1. I agree. And at the risk of “man-splaining” to the readers, I believe this is both Hillary’s greatest weakness, and her greatest opportunity.

      It is her greatest weakness, as evidenced by the fact that she is clearly NOT a progressive, it is painfully obvious that she has been bought off by the Prohibitionist forces. And this puts her way the fuck out of step with the progressive Democratic Party. She is so obviously a corporate shill and pro-drug war. Exactly the kind of thing I vote AGAINST.

      But this is why it is also her greatest opportunity! Let’s say it’s Hillary against Trump. All she would have to do it come out strong for marijuana legalization, based on the evil things it does to women and minorities(see heartbreaking stories above), and BAM! …she comes off as progressive! Even though she isn’t. Fuck yes, play the “woman card!” It would be a deal we progressives couldn’t refuse!

      If she came out hard for legalization during the general election campaign, the Bernie supporters would take the crumbs! I’m one of them. It would unite the party. But if she goes the other way, starts backtracking on even the goddamn “studies” she says we need to wait for before legalizing, if we get into more hedging and bullshit from her, then…

      …Well, I’m sorry, Democrats, but I can’t vote for either one of them, when they’re both my enemies. It’s no longer a question of which one is worse at that point. I’d be stupid to vote for either one. Voting against the lesser of two evils is only valid if the entire thing is not one big fake reality TV show, which I’m beginning to think it is so.

      1. Couple of typos I missed:
        “based on the evil things it does to women” should read: “based on the evil things marijuana prohibition does to women”; and,
        “Voting against the lesser of two evils” should read “Voting for the lesser of two evils”.

      2. The old axiom of “choose your poison,” has never been more relevant than a run between Clinton, the compulsive liar and Trump, the pathological liar. Hillary has to eat the CBS poll showing a majority of women supporting legalization.

        But not voting for Hillary is giving the vote to Trump, the far greater of two evils. Trump has teamed up with Senator Sessions, a horrible prohibitionist enemy to our cause;


        The same Sessions that said “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”


        Trump’s racist rhetoric stating “Mexicans are sending their rapists and murderers” is not only the opposite of true, it’s right out of the playbook of Harry Anslinger.
        The truth is U.S. Foreign policy, especially through the DOJ, has been financing and sending “rapists and murders” to every country in Latin America since President Polk declared war against Mexico. From the CIA toppling a freely elected Democratic President in Guatemala just so Food Inc. could buy up all the land to sell bananas and leave the country in perpetual civil war, to the right wing guerillas sponsored by President Ford in Nicaragua or Reagan in El Salvador that left U.S. backed soldiers raping nuns and killing priests, we could really lose Trump’s wall idea, end the drug war and just be better neighbors if we wish to diminish violence across the Americas.
        Besides, Bush already tried the wall idea and it failed miserably in litigation. News flash Trump; we can’t build a wall in the middle of the fucking Rio Grande, not only because that would be unbelievably stupid, but because 100-year-old treaties in water rights between Mexico and the U.S. make it illegal. Taking land from US ranchers using “imminent domain” aint gonna cut it;


  7. My mothers day wish, that my son with a traumatic Brain Injury has the right to uses Medical Cannabis, instead of 8 pills that make him lethargic none functional. He has an Invisible Disability, and now he might go to jail because I had taken him off the pills.
    I will never get him back which has been hard to except his laugh his sence of humer. But I can see a little more of him when he is on medical THC. I can not believe that here my California could be so behind in doing what is right. My kid who is 24, but has the Brain of a 14yr.old could go to jail for putting something in his body that helps take away the pain, nausea, depression, anxieties, seizure.
    You know they say when a solider is dyeing on the battlefield they always cry out for the mom. OMG, Please help all of are disabled have the rights they ………My Mothers Day wish to ALL.

  8. Meanwhile women continue to erode the rights to their own bodies prevalent in the antiabortion efforts that want women to become the properties of the men in their lives….sounds like islam doesn’t it?

  9. Yeah! I love The Mary Jane Girls.
    And, I am diggin’ the thought of the DEA having to approve more cultivation licenses. I’m thinking why not just take away the DEA or any federal agency having to approve the application at all. Then the responsibility can fall to the states. Get rid of any kind of federal involvement whatsoever. Nobody is paying any prohibitionist, old-fashioned marijuana stamp tax either, I don’t want that.


    In My House

  10. I’ve been a norml supporter for only 10-11 years or so. I haven’t been overly vocal about it for a few reasons. But recently I just feel the need to talk about it more. My fear is losing insurance. My one dr wants me to use it. It’s helping in all the ways we hoped it would. I was scared to death to tell my other drs about it. But every single one of them agrees. If it helps keep it up. Yet if some find out about it I’ll be in trouble. As much as I’d LOVE to be more vocal and more into the movement I just can’t right now. And it’s not due to my being female. It’s financial. Our state (NYS) has medical but it’s one of the worst in the country and they still don’t have any of my health issues on the list. Plus everything about the law sucks. So yes the good part is my drs don’t care that the state law sucks they all think it’ll be changing for the better soon. I hope they’re right. But I’m wondering if somehow it’ll just be legalized for all before that happens. Something just tells me that’s how it’ll play out.

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