Even though there are many women who drink beer, it usually exists in the American conscience as a "dude drink." But when it comes to pot, who would have thought men were the dominant users? As in, significantly more men use pot than women! I've never thought of marijuana use as a gender-specific drug, but according to recent data, it's totally a guy thing!
In Colorado, medical-marijuana is legal and the registry of patients has jumped from 5,000 to 95,000 between January 2009 and June 2010. Not once in those 18 months did men ever make up less than 70 percent of registered patients. Crazy!
Recreational use is along the same lines (a 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 63 percent of regular marijuana users were men), but it's the medical-marijuana situation that seems a little more, well, wrong to me. It saddens me to think that there are women out there who may benefit from medical-marijuana but who feel like it's just too "taboo" to use ...
Out of 10 marijuana advocates who recently testified in Colorado on driving under the influence of drugs, only one was female -- a Boulder-based dispensary owner named Jill Lamoureux. She tried to explain her hypothesis for the gender gap to The Denver Post:
Women may be more uncomfortable with the whole concept of going to a dispensary, which can be scary until you've been in one. You may have kids in school. You may just have more of a consciousness about what being on that registry would mean.
What would it mean? That you were a pothead loser? Because you have cancer and need to use because you're undergoing chemo? Because you have multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, glaucoma, epilepsy, or chronic pain? Arthritis, migraine, menstrual cramps? (All of which medical marijuana can be a safe, effective treatment for.)
Even if women know that medical-marijuana could be helpful in these instances, we seem to feel like there's a stigma against us using it. Reasons run the gamut from, as Lamoureux mentions, being skeeved out by visiting a dispensary (but ladies, I peeked in one when I visited San Fran -- it's seriously like Starbucks, but with pot instead of lattes!) to worrying that the role of "responsible nurturer" wouldn't mesh well with rolling a joint.
And that's just plain sad! For one, prescription or even over-the-counter drugs that you may opt for instead can lead to dependency or extreme side effects. Also, exactly how well will you be able to nurture anyone if you're in excruciating pain or on whack-you-out-of-your-mind narcotics?
Oh, doctors could be to blame, too, of course. Some might not be as comfortable suggesting ladies toke up. They need to get over that STAT, too.
Medical-marijuana should be an equal opportunity therapy. After all, you wouldn't steer clear of any other medically-necessary drug just because you're female. Why shouldn't pot be the same?
Why do you think fewer women use medical-marijuana than men?
Image via aforero/Flickr