Pot People (Including Women) are People People

It won’t come as a surprise to dope smokers that the cannabis industry works FAR more like a service industry than a product-based business.

Cannabis use has always brought people from different walks of life together. Behind EstroHaze’s success is the age-old fact that pot circles welcome every race and gender expression.

Recently, I sat down with Mandy Scanlon, a female budtender at Natural Selections in North Denver, Colorado. We discussed this booming industry and the opportunities available for women and minorities in it.


When I asked Mandy whether she faces sexism, either overt or covert, she stated that her co-workers and other industry professionals have been amazing. Though it is still predominantly an industry run by men, it is one where women are welcomed, necessary and appreciated.

Some of her clients, on the other hand, “doubt my knowledge of the product and ask questions to ‘quiz me,’ rather than for answers,” says Mandy. Really? Mansplaining weed? Shame on you!

GREEN Can Make ALL the Colors of the RAINBOW

Among her co-workers, Mandy isn’t the only woman. Women are well-represented in all their varied colors, shapes and sizes on the other side of the dispensary counter.

For wrong or right, women are subject to more social expectations, and womanhood can be a guilty gig. With this in mind, Mandy and I talked about shame, external and internal. We unpacked our pasts, as many bud-smokers do. Collectively, we are all “unshaming” marijuana use, purging all we have internalized as a result of having lived through marijuana prohibition.

Get High With a Little Help From My . . . FAMILY

Luckily, Mandy has a very supportive mom and a sibling who lead the way. Mandy’s older brother has been a grower for over a decade, and her mother is proud of her daughter’s maverick spirit — a pioneer facing this unknown terrain, albeit green and skunky, spanning out in front of all of us, the cannabis pilgrims.

Mandy, as are many, is still working on destigmatizing marijuana use. I asked her if she could discern more guilt or “guilty looks” from her female and/or minority customers. Objectively, Mandy couldn’t quantify what we all are facing, but felt that we were all facing it together. There was no one more guilty race, sexual orientation, age-range or gender walking through her dispensary door.

While we spoke, I sought wisdom from the budtender in front of me, as many of us do. Mandy had no answers to address the needless shame we’ve all been forced to carry. Nor is there a panacea to cure the injuries caused by prohibition. However, Mandy did assure me that we, the cannabis community, the marijuana metropolitan, the weed world, the pot populist are on the right track. The cannabis industry began with community and equality in mind.

Her only suggestion? “To keep doing what we’re doing. To keep providing compassionate understanding to each and every person who walks in the door, no matter what.”

Doctor, Heal Thyself

A resounding theme, and one I wasn’t expecting, was that being in the budtender community provided healing for those who have been disrespected and dishonored in the workforce.

Mandy, and many of her colleagues, come from the restaurant and retail industries. The pain was palpable, as she retold how poorly paid, how overworked, how under-appreciated many in the retail and restaurant arena are. Almost through serendipity, these down-trodden overlooked people have found a soft place to land. And there is nothing better than landing in a bed of sweet kush.

Not only are the under-appreciated finally respected, but Mandy said that, “helping people find healing and answers,” gave her days purpose. And isn’t that really what it’s all about? Those who have been disrespected dole out honor one nug at a time! Nug Hug. Get one today!

*Over the next few months, I will be peppering my entries with interviews of other minority women in the marijuana space. Any and all suggestions would be great.

**Thank you to Mandy Scanlon for her time and for her unrelenting dedication to the industry and all of us in it. See you again on pay day!

About the author:

Diane Popenhagen is a queer author, editor, mother and Buddhist practitioner.

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