Black And Brown And Even White Women Smoke Weed
These two women heard me when I said “I am the only Brown girl in Canada talking about Cannabis and Black women, in Canada.” Even before we met, they were looking for others like themselves, and they took the lead. I am so grateful to them.
While me being alone and Black in the cannabis world was certainly true four years ago, it’s sure as hell not true anymore.
There are hundreds of women in the group known as Afro Cannada Budsista’s, and I do mean hundreds of them. From around the world.
They come from Jamaica, Trinidad, The USA, and Canada, among other places in the world, and each and every one of them will tell you that cannabis has changed their lives.
To protect the identity of my sisters, I am going to make this essay about me now. Please be aware that this essay has a strong trigger warning, if you have experienced trauma and abuse you may want to reconsider reading this post.
One of the reasons that I was so passionate about talking about cannabis four years ago, was because I had just rediscovered memories of serious trauma. I remembered being gang-raped as a child, beaten, tortured, and abused, mostly by the same men for more than twenty years.
I also remembered being raped by a neighbor boy and molested by a priest, and without cannabis, I would not have made it out of the mental mind fuck I was experiencing. I wouldn’t be alive today, because it was so bad, and there were so many memories of trauma and abuse that for a short period of time, I honestly felt like I was drowning.
Cannabis allowed me the space to go through my memories one by one, and not completely lose my mind over them. For about a year and a half I was in a constant state of “oh my God, how did I survive that?” and “did this really happen, or am I completely crazy?”
Cannabis certainly exasperated my paranoia, there was one time I had gone to sleep after smoking a joint and I woke up to find that my wallet was missing. I called the police to report that someone had broken into my house and stolen it. It was on my damned dresser. I had moved it there while I was stoned for some reason and completely forgotten about it.
It sounds funny now, but at the time I was so freshly raw from remembering all the terrible things that men had done to me over the years, that I honestly believed someone had stolen it. Part of it was the cannabis, but part of it was the genuine fear that the men who had abused me were trying to drive me crazy so that I would be seen as unstable.
The truth of it was that when I was arrested for having a panic attack on an airplane I was unstable. That event had triggered a door in my brain to open and when the flood of memories started to come back I did in fact lose my mind for a while.
Cannabis helped, but I needed more help than cannabis could provide. I reached out to my mom, who took me to the hospital, and I told a doctor what I remembered. He said I sounded psychotic, and wouldn’t even entertain the idea that my memories were real.
I was hospitalized three times during this process, but I continued to smoke cannabis whenever I was at home because it just made life easier. Sure they gave me medications, and I took them, but cannabis just added to the armor that I was building around myself.
It was during this time that I realized that I wanted to take my writing seriously, so I joined a group on Facebook directed at Black women, specifically, who write. I was looking for someone, anyone who looks like me, who blogged the way that I did. I wanted to connect to others that were like me because I had started to realize that I was completely alone.
The group was great and super supportive, but none of the Black women in the group were talking about Cannabis.
It would be three more years before the Afro Cannada Budsista’s were created, and I was floundering.
I knew that I wanted to share my newfound love of this plant, especially because for years I had deliberately kept myself away from using it, afraid of what doors in my mind it might open, afraid of what the result would be.
Suddenly now that I was smoking it, I wanted to scream from the rooftops and tell everyone how much it was helping me, but I had no one to talk to about it.
I joined a group for women in cannabis, in Canada, and while that particular group was filled with white women and ultimately not the right place for me, it led me to EduCanNation.
EduCanNation provides Cannabis Education for people who are interested in learning about the herb but aren’t entirely where to start. The group consists of Doctors, Teachers, Yoga Instructors, and even Dental Nurses.
I got involved with them through the first group, and now I am a volunteer and I couldn’t be more proud. The work that we are doing isn’t just about educating patients, but also doctors, teachers, lawyers, and even the public.
And the education we provide isn’t strictly about the plant. EduCanNation provides information on dosing, legalities, tips on what to do when you have overconsumed. Even though you can’t actually overdose on cannabis, you can overindulge and make yourself sick if you take too much or if you take a cultivar that doesn’t flow with your body chemistry.
Because cannabis is such a complicated plant, people have started using Cannabis Cultivar, instead of Cannabis Strain, because strains often overlap.
Did you know that every human and animal on this earth has an “endocannabinoid system”? (Endo-Canna-Bin-Oid). This basically means that our bodies are designed to work with cannabis, I honestly had no idea until I met EduCanNation, I was shocked off my ass because suddenly it was like “oh my God, that makes so much sense!”
When people started to notice me as someone who spoke about cannabis, they started reaching out to me and inviting me to groups, one of which was ACBS, I was hesitant to join at first because I didn’t know what to expect.
One particular Wednesday, I posted “here’s a mental health checkin, how y’all doing?” largely because Breonna Taylor had just been murdered, and “I” was not doing okay.
I was emotional, cannabis wasn’t helping, and I was genuinely afraid. It was the same fear that my ancestors from Africa felt when the white men came. It was a fear fueled by dread, anxiety, and severe depression.
I had spent my entire life ignoring what happened to me, and when I finally started to share my story, although it felt good to get it off my shoulders, the murder of Breonna Taylor showed me that there is nowhere for us colored folk to hide. Especially Black women.
They will come for us everywhere, anywhere, and they don’t give a fuck about what it does to our psyche, largely because terrorists never do.
Joining AFBS was the best thing that I have ever done in my life. I consider clicking “Join Group” to be a personal accomplishment, and here’s why.
Like many Black women, until 2019 I wasn’t comfortable discussing cannabis, even though I wanted to.
The only place I would really talk about it is on Twitter where I knew it would piss off my aunt, (I’m passive-aggressive AF), and in my social circles online where I knew people smoked weed and didn’t give a shit about the Black girl who likes to smoke up all day every day.
There was this huge stigma about Black or Brown girls who smoke weed. When I first moved to BC everyone I met was trying to get me to smoke weed, they all wanted to smoke cannabis with the girl who was “2Pac Brown and therefore acceptable to be around unlike the kids from India who were Indian or Pakistani Brown.”
Yes, that was a direct quote from my sixteen-year-old experience. I didn’t want to smoke weed with those people, largely because their racism and colorism was so blatant that I didn’t trust them.
When I did smoke with them, I was often bitchy, mean, and downright abusive. Cannabis brought out a version of myself that I didn’t like, and it scared me, so it didn’t happen often that I would smoke or sesh with people.
Stoned Devon was honest, brutally so. She was angry, and she had no problem telling the world what was on her mind. She scared the crap out of me, and she made it harder to be around people because people don’t like being smacked over the head with the truth.
Sometimes I was just a bitch, though.
When I started smoking cannabis four years ago I deliberately chose to smoke alone. My mom would go to work during the day and I would make myself a cup of coffee and then I would get stoned, and I would stay stoned all day.
I danced, I wrote, I sang, I rapped, I did all the creative things that people told me that I couldn’t do, because I was home alone and who the hell was going to stop me?
Finding my BudSista’s was an accomplishment because it wasn’t just joining a group, it was joining a group and deliberately making the choice to be vulnerable with women I had never met.
The truth of it is that until ACBS I honestly did not know any Black women, I have one Black friend here in BC that is not a part of the group, and we…are not really friends.
I had one Black woman growing up in my life who used to physically abuse me when we were alone together and then tell my mother that I was a liar and a troublemaker.
My experience with Black women was neither vast nor incredibly positive. As a child when my mom and her long-ago ex were together, I had access to Black women, but they didn’t like me very much, and I didn’t really understand how to connect to them…I was different because I was light skin, and in the way that Black women do, they made sure that I knew that I was different.
Growing up I had been taught that good Black girls don’t smoke weed. Yes, they do. That’s why they haven’t killed you yet. No, that is not a joke.
Growing up with Black women who didn’t like me because my skin was too light or because I was too outspoken had a real effect on me. So yes, joining the group was an accomplishment.
It was my way of saying “I am scared to do this, to be vulnerable with these women, but I am going to try because if I don’t try I won’t know if I can be.”
More than that, I think it was about my future daughters. One day my daughters are going to come to me and tell me that someone hates them because of the color of their skin.
I want to make sure that I know how to handle that situation, and the only way to do that is to make sure that I at least tried to surround myself with other women of color.
When I posted the mental health checkin, it wasn’t entirely because I cared only about the women who might respond — although I certainly did — it was also because “I” needed the space to say that I wasn’t okay…checking in with the other women gave me the space to say that. To say “I am not okay, and I don’t know what to do about it.”
Opening that door was terrifying, but it was Khadisha Thornhill who hosted the first of many weekly video chats that we call our weekly mental health checkin. Because of those chats I have come to accept so much about myself.
I talk through my issues with these women, I laugh with them, they have become my sisters because they allow me space, to be honest about how I am feeling, and they give me the humbling courtesy of saying “Devon, I need your help.”
Do you know how good it feels to feel wanted? To feel like the experience that you have had in your life as a woman of color, matters to someone else? That the lessons you’ve learned are now teachings that you can pass on to others?
When you have been abused, traumatized, and viciously abused, you often think that you have nothing to offer the world. You start to believe that what you do remember about your past is a lie because the men in your life tell you that it’s a lie.
When there are other women in the world who look at you — even through a camera — and say “I need you, to help me,” you start to feel like you have value again. You start to feel like the shit that you’ve been through wasn’t a complete waste of your time.
It’s incredibly powerful to sit and listen to these women share their experiences, to share their life lessons with you. Not just because they are helping you or because you are helping them, but because they are trusting you.
None of us would have gathered if we hadn’t started smoking cannabis if we hadn’t become passionate about the fact that it helps with anxiety, depression, misery. Physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental ailments have been soothed by the use of cannabis, for hundreds of us.
The idea that the Black or Brown woman who smokes cannabis is probably a gangster or a thug, or a baby-mama, comes from the patriarchal society of white and Black men who want us to behave.
Well behaved women are rarely happy women. That’s only because “well behaved” means “behave in a way that impresses me so that I think well of you,” instead of “behave in such a way that I get to know the real version of who you are, so that I can love you in all your parts.” — Devon J Hall
Women smoke cannabis.
That’s a fact.
Black women who smoke cannabis together, are powerful badass women.
That’s also a fact.
The cannabis industry is not marketing to the Black women community, because they don’t know how to market to us. And the reason they don’t know how to market the herb to us is that for the most part, Black women are all but non-existent in this industry.
We are here, but we are also few and far between, and the only way to solve that problem is for more Black women, around the world, to gather and smoke cannabis together. Is for Black women around the world to step up and say “yes, I smoke cannabis, and you know what? It feels so damned good so I refuse to remain ashamed.”
We need to normalize not judging Black women, period. The only way that Black women are going to feel safe is when they have the opportunity to be together. The only way that is going to happen is if y’all take time to smile when you see a woman of color smoking the herb.
Understand that when you see a woman who is smoking or imbibing with cannabis, you are seeing a warrior. You are seeing a woman who has experienced some shit, and who knows that cannabis is connecting her to something bigger than herself.
You can call it God, Mars, Aphrodite, Ganesha, or Hecate. You can call it the divine center of the universe, but women who smoke cannabis know that it helps to make them feel better, more than that they know they deserve to feel better.
For some women smoking cannabis allows them to breathe again.
For me it allows me to say all the things that I need to say without being ashamed of what my family or friends will think. I spent thirty-two years feeling like I didn’t belong in this world. Thinking that I don’t deserve to be here.
Cannabis has led me to a journey filled with people who love me, who remind me that I do deserve to be here, and they give me reasons to want to be here, even when I have the option of leaving.
Cannabis isn’t for everyone, and you should absolutely reach out to a Doctor, or better yet a registered cannabis expert before you imbibe, but if it is something to consider for you, just know that we’re here, waiting in the light for you to join us from the shadows.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall