Between the deep-rooted stigma of cannabis-friendly motherhood and the longstanding trope of using women as sultry props in pot culture, it can be difficult for women to find their voices in today’s ever-expanding cannabis narrative.

That’s where companies like Van der Pop come in.

North America's leading female-focused cannabis brand – which bills itself as "the cannabis digest for the discerning woman" – explores cannabis and how it relates to self-care, sex and socializing through its editorial platform, weekly newsletter, social sites, product line and SESSION events. 

On Nov. 7, Van der Pop will host its inaugural ‘Women & Weed’ event in Toronto – coinciding with the impending launch of its two branded cannabis strains with Canadian cannabis producer WeedMD.

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Van der Pop explores cannabis and how it relates to self-care, sex and socializing // Photo Morgan English

Van der Pop’s head of content, Odessa Paloma Parker, says the upcoming event will serve as an ideal entry point for women who have perhaps felt excluded from the cannabis conversation to date.

“It’s for any woman who is a cannabis user and wants to feel part of an open and excited and thriving community, and for any woman who’s interested in using cannabis without judgment and wants to feel as comfortable as they would going to a cocktail social,” Paloma Parker tells Civilized.

Despite the many great strides women are making in the industry now, the cannabis world hasn’t tended to be a particularly welcoming environment for women in the past, says Paloma Parker.

“There’s certainly a changing narrative in pop culture... but, historically, women were very much on the periphery in terms of being users at all,” says Paloma Parker.

While Paloma Parker adds that modern-day stoner hits like Broad City and Grace and Frankie are helping enormously to “change the conversation” around women and cannabis use. Alas, the damage of the last few decades of poor female representation in cannabis culture has been done – and mothers are often the ones to take the brunt of it, says Paloma Parker.

“Women are turning to cannabis for wellness more and more and, unfortunately, because of all the stigmas around cannabis use and motherhood, cannabis hasn’t been included in that conversation and it’s been really detrimental,” she says. “I find that very strange because it’s totally normalized now to be like, ‘Mommy needs her wine!’

“You’d never hear someone say that about pot, even though we’ve come to find out that the majority of women are using cannabis for medicinal purposes. Can you imagine not feeling comfortable talking about Advil or something?”   

At its core, this is the mission of both Van der Pop and next month’s ‘Women & Weed’ event: to “empower women” to join the cannabis conversation in a meaningful way.

“It’s all about making women feel comfortable to share their stories,” says Paloma Parker. “We’re very excited to share our journeys and to have that reciprocated.”

The event will feature prominent speakers such as Olivia Harris (CCO, LEVO), Tahira Rehmatullah (former GM of Marley Natural), Barinder Rasode (CEO, NICHE Canada), marijuana maven Irie Selkirk and Brandi Leifso (Evio Beauty Group).

Speakers will cover topics such as design, fashion and creativity in the cannabis industry, wellness, the medical perspective, and unique challenges and opportunities that female entrepreneurs and employees face in the industry.

The event was created as a result of a large-scale North American survey undertaken by Van der Pop in August 2017, unearthing beliefs and perceptions surrounding cannabis held by the 1,500 women consulted. Results from the ground-breaking survey will be unveiled and discussed at the event.

You can get your free advance tickets here

Banner image: Bess Byers