Next month, hundreds of prospective brides will waltz into Denver for the fourth annual Cannabis Wedding Expo, featuring anything and everything wedding-related with a cannabis twist, including cannabis-decorated wedding dresses, fresh “flower” arrangements and cannabis-infused cakes, canapes and cocktails.
It’s not surprising that weddings are a “thing” in the cannabis industry these days. First, women drive 70% to 80% of all consumer purchasing, and the influence they wield with their family members means their reach is wide. But even more important, women now account for 38% of the cannabis market, nearly doubling their participation over the last year. They are projected to reach parity with men within three years. The cannabis industry is working hard to develop products that will attract these new consumers. But there’s some adjustment required.
That’s because women say they want different things from their cannabis use than men. While 71% of men who use cannabis say they do so for “at-home entertainment,” women are much more interested in cannabis products that offer them relief from things like pain, sleep loss and hormonal swings. Cannabis is used to combat PMS by almost 40% of female cannabis consumers. Nearly 70% of them say they look to cannabis for personal care as well.
That’s led to a smorgasbord of new cannabis-infused products, from so-called weed tampons to baked goods and makeup to erogenous zone sprays. The tampon is actually a vaginal suppository, which releases a blend of THC and CBD to relax muscles, stop cramping and alleviate pain. Whoopi Goldberg’s cannabis brand has a lavender bath soak designed to combat stress, as well as a raw cocoa spread for use as a mood booster.
There are cannabis-infused lotions to soothe irritated skin, body balms to relieve pain and vapes that release THC microdoses for relaxing. There are also various tinctures and pills to fight migraines, anxiety and inflammation. Boasting ingredient lists with minerals and micronutrients, beeswax, royal jelly, organic avocado oil and myrrh — and encased in ultrasophisticated packaging — these cannabis products wouldn’t be out of place at a high-end spa or makeup counter. (And some of them have the price tags to prove it: The cannabis tampons are $11 each, and one pain-relief balm is $25 for 0.9 ounces.)
One thing all of these products have in common is that they are discreet or intended for use at home, and most are targeted at new users. Many women entering the market are new to cannabis, and they prefer “beginner-friendly” products. According to a survey from Van der Pop, a cannabis lifestyle website, 66% hide their cannabis use, because 70% think it still carries a stigma.
But there’s a growing movement by women to destigmatize cannabis that includes a variety of new cannabis platforms, such as Miss Green, a cannabis magazine, and Ganja Goddess Getaway, a wellness retreat. Tailored to women, they work to demystify cannabis and make it a space women feel comfortable entering. A Marist poll in 2017 found 34% of women would use more marijuana if it were legal, which means greater legalization should decrease any residual hesitancy.
In the meantime, growing numbers of women will become cannabis consumers, and they will continue advocating for more cannabis products and better research to discover how else cannabis can be used effectively. Because it’s a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level — on par with heroin and methamphetamines — obtaining cannabis for research, much less receiving the necessary permissions to run clinical trials, can take years. But that hasn’t stopped one Harvard professor who plans to study 400 women using the weed tampons. Staci Gruber of Harvard Medical School will follow the women in the hopes that she can present evidence to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration that eventually leads to an FDA seal of approval — likely the first of many to come.