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Why Some Women Still Feel Ashamed About Smoking Pot

While men have more freedom to be open about their weed use, women still risk getting judged.

I’ve been smoking pot on and off since I was about 17. Throughout this time — we’re talking 25 years— I believe I bought my own pot once. I have always relied on the men in my life to provide it for me. When I look back at my history with marijuana, I simply have no connection to the weed in my life and where it comes from (except for that boyfriend who filled two of our small closets with plants in 1997). Along with relying on men for it, I also don’t discuss smoking with girlfriends. I wouldn’t meet up with another woman to get high the way I would, say, for a glass of shiraz. There’s probably only been a handful of times in the past 10 years have I gotten high with a group of women to simply relax.

Most of the men I know, on the other hand, get high. They discuss the product. They have multiple sources. They invest in smokeless inhalation devices like the Volcano and the portable Wispr. They speak about their weed machines like they’d talk about cars. Or computers. Or the way my Uncle Joe used to obsess over his ham radios in the 1970s. And while the country has more or less embraced the stoner way of life — new data  shows that more Americans are getting high now than in previous years — the stigma around women smoking pot is still pretty black and white.

If you take a look at marijuana  gender data, you’d think most women are following the Adam Ant rule of thumb — Don’t drink, don’t smoke. In Colorado, for example, 68 percent of medical marijuana registrants are males and in Arizona, 73 percent of approved applicants are men. According to the annual  National Survey on Drug Use, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost twice as many men smoke than women (9.6 percent of men vs. 5 percent of women).

Here’s the thing about women and weed: Women generally don’t want to discuss their habit out of fear of being judged or compared to a cartoon. Think Milla Jovovich’s stoner character in “Dazed and Confused” — she had no lines whatsoever and merely stared off into space, and, okay, she painted a Gene Simmons face on that statue. Worse, if you’re a mother, you keep your weed habit secret because you don’t want to be seen as a negligent parent.

Because when women unwind, we have been told that drinking should be our method of choice — Kathie Lee and Hoda still drink wine at 10 a.m., and no one balks. But just last year the entire Internet almost had a collective heart attack when “Motherland” author Amy Sohn wrote about her drugging escapades for  The Awl in “The 40-Year-Old Reversion.” The first paragraph goes like this: “Once a month I get together with half a dozen moms from Park Slope and Carroll Gardens. We call ourselves Hookers, Sluts and Drug Addicts.” And this summer, a video of a group called the Marijuana Moms went viral after announcing they were “bringing glamour and exclusivity to marijuana use.” The Huffington Post  filed the story under “Weird News.”

Though movies have portrayed men getting high in groups for decades (just this summer Seth Rogen and co. smoked their way through the apocalypse in “This Is The End”), there’s a complete lack of women who smoke weed in pop culture, as Ann Friedman  points out in New York magazine: “There are a few depictions of women smoking at home as a way to blow off some steam and bond with each other. In ’9 to 5,’ a film released back in 1980, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton’s characters get stoned together and fantasize about how they will exact revenge on their boorish boss. The 2012 lady-bromance ‘For a Good Time Call’ features heroines who regularly smoke. But the examples are few and far between.”

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