Weed | As cannabis becomes more socially accepted and legalized through a greater expanse of the United States, what was once a small, budding industry is morphing, almost as if overnight, into an economical powerhouse. The days of secretive grow houses and hush-hush trades of buds for cash at your dealer’s place are quickly fading into our country’s past. Commercialization of cannabis undercuts the illegal market by providing higher quality at often lower prices, and drives local and state economies with employment opportunities and sincerely impressive tax revenue.
Since 2014, the state of Washington alone has seen over $1.9 billion in cannabis-based revenue.
And as cannabis is brought further into the mainstream, some organizations want to reclaim the plant’s significance in counter-cultures. This is especially true for Americans of color, who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Even now, and even in states where cannabis is legal, minority individuals are still arrested at a higher rate than white people-and an arrest record can be a severe detriment to many aspects of their lives once fines have been paid and/or time has been served.
Women. Weed. Wifi. is an art collective based out of Seattle, Washington. The women’s organization focuses on the stories, lives and creative works of women of color. Cannabis fits seamlessly into their ambition to elevate and heal women, and is used as a catalyst to help women of color to explore their identities and their community.
There is a sincere racial disparity in Washington’s thriving cannabis industry. The vast majority of dispensary owners in the state are wealthy, white and male. Black residents make up 3.6% of the state’s adult population, but only 2.7% have a stake in cannabis retailers. Latinos experience this as well, as they make up 9.5% of the adult population but only account for 3.6% of ownership of interest. Women. Weed. Wifi. was founded by Janice Ibarra, Amanya Maloba, and Vanity Thomas, all of whom would like to see more people of color benefitting from this industry after suffering the effects of the war on drugs for so very long.
But their distinct focus is on women, and how cannabis helps to facilitate creativity. Smoke and Stretch yoga sessions, guided meditation, podcasts, poetry and magazines are just some of the creative outlets that women involved in this highly artistic collective utilize to express themselves.
Seattle is known for being a pretty progressive place to be, but in many ways it is still very much gentrified, with little room made for the voices and influences of people of color. So Women. Weed. Wifi. is crafting their own place in the industry. Click here to read an interview with the founders, courtesy of Yes Magazine.