Smoke Screens: Why Aren’t More Female Marijuana Consumers in Movies?

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PHOTO: Dana Schmitt Photography

Hollywood has given us a multitude of timeless stoner flicks, from Grandma’s Boy to Friday, and our beloved adventures of Cheech & Chong. All of these movies have a special place in my heart, but I can’t help but wonder why there hasn’t been a stoner film based around the female experience of marijuana.

Many marijuana films have tokenized female roles of the “cool and/or hot stoner chick” who is objectified and seen as the prize. Unless we want to be generous and use the character Nancy Botwin from the hit series Weeds as perhaps the only female centered role in the genre, no films have been made that capture the comical adventure of female stoners in comparison to their male counterparts.

Recent films like Springbeakers glossed over female marijuana usage, but not in the same stoner-esque light. Other than these minor female roles that lack depth and complexity (excluding Nancy), no film has been purely centered around the female experience and usage of marijuana.

Until recently, most women have not been particularly open about their marijuana usage. Many women with children are hesitant to claim their user status because their children could potentially be taken away from them. Marijuana prohibition has put a sexual stigma of marijuana that labels women as sluts, and some women claim to feel judged or seen as less than the “ideal woman” if open about smoking. Still others simply hide their use because it is illegal. Because of women closeting themselves as marijuana consumers, I feel like the demand for a films centered around women and marijuana aren’t the focus stemming from this confluence of stigma.

Despite her name, the character Mary Jane in the film Half Baked is not a weed smoker.

Despite her name, the character Mary Jane in the film Half Baked is not a weed smoker.

When looking at other factors that could contribute the lack of female stoners shown on the silver screen, it does not help that the current movie industry is unapologetically sexist. Much like female orgasms, female marijuana users are also discriminated upon in the movie industry, simply because the majority of men who run the film industry do not want to make movies about women and validate their experiences. When heterosexual couples have sex the males are free to orgasm on camera, sometimes receiving ratings as low as PG. Conversely, if a woman is shown having an orgasm, the film is generally slapped with N-17 rating that dramatically reduces its chances of being shown in theaters. Many producers are told to censor the scene or cut the reel altogether. These kinds of sexist decisions are robbing the world of the female experience of sex. It is no surprise that the depiction of female marijuana users has been just as similarly sparse.

As the push for the legalization of marijuana continues, it is vital that marijuana users are diversely depicted in order to show the commonality of marijuana through a multitude of experiences. Women or men (trans or cis), people of color, gay, lesbian, bi or straight, and people from all social classes – there is true diversity among marijuana lovers. Showing how these diverse experiences are reflected in pop culture is a novel way of legitimizing marijuana use. I believe that if a stoner chick film was made, it would benefit the argument to end prohibition because more women would be able to identity with these depictions, and erode the false stigma of marijuana that plagues female marijuana users.

I absolutely believe that making a stoner film centered around the female experience would be a significant political move. The time is now to push the envelope to further the roles of women in relationship to marijuana, in order to end federal prohibition. Activism takes shape in many forms, and I believe that sending that message using pop culture  is ideal in much needed in this day and age.