How To Be A Better Cannabis Delivery Ally

On the way home from a San Francisco weed delivery workshop on being better allies, my ride-share driver asks what an "ally" is. I stumble over an answer, unsure.

"It's about being aware of how you can help others who aren't necessarily like you. Like if you have friends who are queer, taking care to know how to support and respect them, and advocating for them when you can, is being a queer ally." This definition is very basic, but applies to racial and cultural identities, folks with disabilities or neurodiversity, gender identities, sexualities, and beyond. Being an ally just means you've got other peoples' backs.

One way of being an ally? Supporting the communities within your community that have been marginalized. In cannabis, underrepresented identities have long been pushed to the sides, denied capital or resources, or even just flat out punished for wanting to be in the industry at all.

If you're reading this, you're probably in some way involved in cannabis. You buy it or smoke it or work with it or educate others about it. But if you represent as male, especially as straight, cisgender, or white, and don't suffer from a disability, it's likely there are many industry and social barriers you haven't had to face because of it—from being passed over for interviews based solely on a photo, being sexually harassed, stereotyped by an employer, or fired for a having a disability.

Friends, seriously, it's not your fault. But you need to be aware of it, even if it's uncomfortable or doesn't seem true to you. No matter who you are or how you identify, there are little things you can do as a consumer to help bring balance to the culture over time and support marginalized communities in cannabis. Here are four simple things to talk about in your own group (at work, home, or with friends) to help each other be better allies to each other and others.

Speak up.
This is the most basic aspect of being an ally, and often feels like the most awkward part when you're in the moment. When you see someone shutting down someone else in your group when talking or sharing, whether it's with insults, insisting they're wrong, or just never letting them speak, it can be uncomfortable trying to figure out how to respond.

Do you call out the aggressive person? Does the other person even mind? It can be so hard to tell, and to know what to do, but it's critical to be brave and speak up. And you don't have to be confrontational about it.

It can be as simple as turning to the person being shut down and asking, clearly, "Sorry, what were you saying?" If the aggressor interrupts again, make a point to either interrupt them back, or turn the conversation clearly back to the interrupted person, to make the point that they can interrupt as much as they want, you're still going to respect everyone's turn to speak.

Include others who may be left out of your group, project, or activity. When you're invited to participate in a group action (such as a panel or workshop) and the involved group all looks like you, suggest replacing yourself with someone who represents a different identity—a different gender, culture, or ability level—than the majority to make sure multiple experiences are heard.

Listen.
The second main tool of any ally, and often the one that gets left in the dust in folks' attempts to be an ally. If you're thinking about what the *right* response is, you're not listening. Listening is not taking in words and preparing how you'll respond to them. Listening as an ally is hearing the words they're saying and internalizing what it means.

"I don't feel like I'm being listened to." "I don't feel welcome in this group." "It makes me uncomfortable when ____ happens." "I have too much on my shoulders and need support with ___."
Don't just pay lip-service to their problem by brushing it aside or just saying you understand or making it someone else's problem to solve. Don't make it about your own different problems, even if you think they're related, unless invited. What is this person telling you? What can you do about it?
If you're not sure, ask! "How can I help?" "What can I do?" "What would make you more comfortable?"

Sometimes, the answer will be "nothing," but may come with a "but it would be nice if...." and why not try?

Be mindful of your asks.
Often, confident people make requests of the women, or quieter, less assertive folks, in their lives on the assumption that it's a "little thing" that doesn't take much. But when you request anything from someone, they have to process that request, and go through more than just the -actual doing- part.

So, before you ask the woman in your office to answer some questions about a project (that you could find on your own with some research) or to get something done for you that is not their job, or to run an errand, stop and think about it. They've got their own lives, responsibilities, and needs. Are you asking them to use hard-earned resources, time, or energy? Particularly, is it something you could be doing yourself? What work are you putting into it yourself? What are you offering in return?

Don't make assumptions about other people's time and ability to help you. And if they say no, don't be a dick about it. Unless they're your direct employee, it's not their job to make your life easier, so move on and figure it out yourself.

Act.
To be a part of the solution, attend workshops and gatherings that look to diversify the cannabis industry. Follow, donate to, or volunteer with organizations that help rebuild communities damaged by prohibition or groups that support local, diverse businesses. Support local political efforts towards equality, like those that work to wipe cannabis related crimes from criminal records. Find out what's happening to folks in prison for non-violent cannabis charges in your state and reach out to your elected officials to make sure they're doing something about it. Embed yourself in local communities outside of your own. Shop diverse-owned businesses, artists, growers, etc., and support their work!

Here are just a few of the incredible organizations and businesses working to help marginalized communities in cannabis, just to get you started:

The Hood Incubator
American Cannabinoid Clinics

Supernova Women
Tokeativity
Minority Cannabis Business Association

 

Cyn Marts is an east-coast Boricua living on the west coast, searching for her own path through life’s bullshit. She spends her time practicing self-care, devouring pop culture, and working as a publicist and editor in Portland, Oregon. She writes a cannabis lifestyle zine series called Ganja Bruja and posts about it under her Instagram.


the feminist weed farmer

The [cannabis] industry is completely market-driven and overwhelmingly dominated by capitalist, straight, white, cis men. I love my straight white brothers, but I do not think it is fair that they have come to control this industry, especially because of the disproportionate incarceration of black and brown people for cultivating and selling pot throughout the span of the war on drugs.

–Madrone Stewart, in the introduction to The Feminist Weed Farmer

Whether you've personally felt it or not, many women, people of color, differently-abled, queer, and non-binary folks, and folks with other disenfranchised identities face more stigma and negative consequences in the cannabis world. Madrone Stewart has an idea that might help: more feminist weed farmers. In her book, The Feminist Weed Farmer, Madrone shares hard-earned knowledge gained from years of growing cannabis.

"After three years of working for nearly a dozen cannabis farms and doing everything from cooking for the crew to managing,” Madrone explained by email, “I was able to buy my own land and start my own farm. It all happened relatively quickly and I credit this to the strong and persistent encouragement of a friend of mine who owned his own cannabis farm. He knew how financially and psychologically empowering it would for me to have my own place and he believed that I could be successful. So by year four, I was putting everything I had learned into practice. In the subsequent few years I not only developed confidence in my cultivation skills, I was also able to evolve my intentions."

The Feminist Weed Farmer is a full-length adaptation of a cultivation guide the Humbolt grower first wrote for "friends who were going to help my farm but had never done it before," published by Microcosm in 2018. "I encouraged them to read Jorge Cervantes and Ed Rosenthal,”  she says, "but the vibe of those books feels like a mismatch for what we were trying to cultivate. So I wrote something for them which is heavily infused with my principles and my style of growing." What style would that be? Diversity. Inclusion. Empowerment. Support. "My friends are queer guys,” she says, “and I am a biracial cis woman. For the book I needed to make it more explicit that this guide was written to encourage all people to grow, especially those of us who might not have considered growing because people who we identify with don't grow."

In the introduction, Madrone explains, "I believe that in order to consume cannabis with integrity, we must derive our plant medicine from ethically responsible sources. The current cannabis market, which is a blend of black market dealers and corporate-controlled dispensaries, is completely market-driven and is not in line with feminist, environmentalist, or social justice values."

In the process of breaking down how to grow your own "mindful medicine”—including details on picking seeds, planting, and dealing with the soil, pests, and weather—Madrone emphasizes the importance of rebuilding confidence in marginalized growers and communities. Not to mention the joy and healing that cannabis can bring.

While in graduate school studying to become a psychedelic-assisted clinical psychologist, Madrone wants to destigmatize the use of cannabis and psychoactives as tools for personal health and wellness. "The [Feminist Weed Farmer] explicitly normalizes walking to the beat of your own drum," she says. "Even where growing is legal, there is a residual stigma against it, so it requires an inner-strength that empowers you to do this thing that some people around you might resist. I hope this book empowers all people to grow a few plants for their personal enjoyment. I also hope that this book contributes to the diversification of cultivators."

And if you can't grow your own, how do you support your local cannabis community? Madrone has a very simple place to start: "Say encouraging things!" she suggests. "Think encouraging thoughts! I would never have bought my farm if it were not for the constant nudging by a straight, white, cis male pot-growing friend of mine. Without his constant expression of his faith that I could run a pot farm, I would have continued to strictly inhabit traditionally-female roles within the industry, which are the lowest paid and most insecure."

She's not wrong. As of 2017, less than 20% of cannabis business across the country were owned or run by people of color and less than 30% by women. In an industry that has long left out marginalized groups, it's more important than ever for women and people of color to grow their own cannabis when possible.

"It is about showing love for the canna-women in your life," Madrone says, "by telling them that you believe in them and that you will support them if they ever need it."

 

Cyn Marts is an east-coast Boricua living on the west coast, searching for her own path through life’s bullshit. She spends her time practicing self-care, devouring pop culture, and working as a publicist and editor in Portland, Oregon. She writes a cannabis lifestyle zine series called Ganja Bruja and posts about it on her Instagram.


empowering cannabis communities through design

Empowering local communities through cannabis graphic design and media, Savina Monet works out of Portland, Oregon, making magic with digital collages that feature bold, vibrant imagery of women, cannabis, and positive icons, heavy with flower patterns—from carnations and daisies to thick buds of cannabis kolas and broad sugar leaves. Over the last few years, Monet says, she has "carved out a creative niche in the cannabis industry as an artist and graphic designer."

"This started back in 2017," she explains, "when I was working at an agriculture software company and I was so limited design-wise. I had to have an outlet and I sucked at drawing so I started cutting out images on my computer and pasting them together."

Astral Works, inspired by the strain from pruf cultivar farms.

After discovering digital design as an outlet for her creative mind, cannabis naturally blended into her process and work. "Integrating cannabis was a no-brainer for me. I've been smoking since I was 16 and adding a marijuana plant in the middle of an art piece felt like a huge middle-finger to the governing authorities who couldn't understand cannabis was a medicine."

But the industry isn't exactly easy, and getting off the ground took a lot of networking and reaching out. "When I first started working the cannabis industry as a designer, I heavily relied on Tokeativity and The Oregon Cannabis Industry Meetup (OCIM) as networking events."

Monet's groovy portfolio headshot.

Then there was the added challenge of gender bias in the field. "Tokeativity was women-only, so I was able to meet a lot of great growers, distributors, processors, and more that were very supportive and understanding. OCIM is for anyone in the cannabis industry and has also been a great source of leads, but adding dudes into the mix just screwed everything up. I would get hit on constantly; I've had leads turn cold once they find out I was married; I've been told I'd never be able to accomplish a freelance career. After my second white male client I got the point, I'm going to work only with women- or diverse-owned businesses.”

In My Skin, inspired by the song I Like My Body.

Monet has done branding work and art commissions for canna-companies such as Sweet Cannabis, Tree Femme Collective, and GreenForce Staffing. Currently, she is working as the creative director for Mercatus Magazine, a business directory and storytelling archive dedicated to highlighting and empowering cannabis entrepreneurs of color. This summer they’ll be putting out their first publication.

"Mercatus first started as a collective for entrepreneurs of color in Portland,” Monet says, “put together by Prosper Portland. It has evolved into a network, a community, and a collection of stories from the diverse entrepreneurs of Portland. I'm most excited about the 20-page directory that will be at the end of the magazine, that lists all of the businesses featured in the Mercatus collective."

Why does it matter? Because cannabis has long been used as a weapon against communities of color, which has left some bogged down by excess stigma and risk. Interested communities without the resources or access to the industry that more privileged identities might have are basically starting with a cultural, financial, or social handicap. Others are afraid to even get involved in the industry at all because of that history of suppression, even now (just look up cannabis arrest statistics in states post-legalization). Programs and publications like Mercatus are so critical because small, diverse-owned businesses and leaders are often left behind or ignored in mainstream media, and it’s easy to feel intimidated in the industry.

The Future of This World is Female, inspired by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"My hopes for this project," Monet explains, "is that it will encourage transplants of color that are still searching for their community to stay in Portland. Portland's whiteness can be intimidating for those with more melanin and when you don't find your people in the city, most transplants end up leaving and taking that culture Portland so desperately needs with them."

No matter who you are or how you identify, there are little things you can do as a consumer to help bring balance to the culture over time and support marginalized communities in cannabis. A big one Monet believes in? Listening and believing.

"Listen and value black and brown women," Monet says. "Culturally, white America has learned to silence and dismiss people of color when it comes to speaking on issues happening in and out of their own community. Stop trying to be their home girl and instead listen to our messages, our feelings, our thoughts."

 

Cyn Marts is an east-coast Boricua living on the west coast, searching for her own path through life’s bullshit. She spends her time practicing self-care, devouring pop culture, and working as a publicist and editor in Portland, Oregon. She writes a cannabis lifestyle zine series called Ganja Bruja and posts about it under her Instagram.


bud diary: depression

Monday, 3pm

On most days I have this eclectic mix of symptoms of depression, ADD, and anxiety disorders all trying to play at the same time. Today I roll a joint of Tangie Cure for its energetic lineage and incredible CBD content (13%!). I smoke while I work my editing job, with spreadsheets and manuscripts. The Tangie terpenes boost my mood and glaze over my cramps, while the CBD almost soothes me, allowing me to focus. The action of smoking itself gives my body something to think about while my eyes are locked on a screen. Except my legs, which jiggle under my desk like shivering pipes. Can’t cloud all the anxiety away.

Tuesday, 11:30am

I’m smoking a butt on the couch. I can tell I haven’t taken my meds yet because I have errands to run and the idea of it makes me want to curl up under pounds of blankets. I inhale the last of my mix—Root Beer Float and Mimosa—and anticipate the awkwardness of the food pantry I’m about to go to, alone, for only the second time. I think about reasons not to go (I don’t have any) and I think about how I wouldn’t have to go if we didn’t waste so much money (not true) and as I crunch the end of my joint into an ashtray, I remind myself that I’m spiraling, and it’s okay, and I push it all aside. It goes great.

Wednesday, 3:15pm

I light up the last of my stash, some so-so Mimosa, trying to focus on work while I have errands on the brain. I turn my time tracker on and read more about feminist economics and the histories that created and sustain economic inequality. Sometimes my job is weird. And great. And isolating. Reading a whole book in a few afternoons is not easy to do, and I get exhausted easily, especially with my own distractedness. But I smoke a joint and finish my work time with my eyes mostly on the screen. Acid Rain (by Lorn) comes on and I feel… groovy.

Thursday, 9am

My body is a cramped weight I feel too weak to carry. All I want is to roll over and ignore a world full of responsibility and need. I drag myself up and pour the coffee my husband left behind, then, bleary-eyed, gather my grinder, papers, bud.

I use joint rolling as a ritual, taking a moment to be here and nowhere, to be awake and alive, but still rather frantic. I use the time smoking to plan my day. With the first hit I feel more relaxed without being sleepy, and my body feels lighter. The Ogre I bought last night tastes diesel-y and sweet. It goes well with the coffee. I can breathe again.

10pm

Things have felt wrong today, a shakiness in my center, and sleep seems incredible. I light up a roll of Sizzleberry and tell myself it’s the last one of the day. It’s an attempt to keep myself out of the muck and get myself into bed—though I don’t think this strain will be doing me any favors in the sleep department. I worked a lot today but didn’t get what I wanted done. The knowledge sucks at me, and I’ve been gripped by the need to either get up and do something or go the fuck to sleep. I slept in this morning, and don’t want to again, so I’m hoping for the latter.

Friday, midnight

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be particularly weird when there isn’t anyone active in your life, forcing you to get better. I don’t just mean being alone. Rather when the people in your life are stagnant, or inactive in their personal health or activity, hobbies, or needs, it tends to drag you down. I light up my tiny spiral hand-pipe with a broken up nugget of The White. My body feels light and airy, my mind relaxes, my head gets heavy. I hope this fills my boredom with a desire for sleep. It’s weird to notice how your actions and inactions both breed their own kinds of loneliness.

You can tell I’ve only been taking half of my Zoloft doses when these are my midnight thoughts.

Saturday, 1:30am

I can’t sleep. It’s a full moon. I stop trying and light candles beside the bed, lighting a pipe of Mimosa and White. I journal, considering what in my life is working, what needs to get better. I look forward to a new year with intention.

Sunday, noon

I find myself in bed, pillows over my ears, trying to shut out the world. I’m sinking in a feeling of unfairness, feeling buried in the unbalanced labor in my partnerships and family. The mix I smoked this morning was meant to get me out of bed relaxed after waking up panicked, and it was nice for conversation, but now I’m stuck down, overwhelmed by the needs I don’t have the stamina to deal with. When I finally get up, I smoke a bowl of The White and a fragrant True Purple Berry, and I can see through the fog of feelings again.

11:30pm

I pull too hard on a joint of Root Beer Float. The budtender at my go-to suggested it as the heaviest strain on the bargain shelf. It tastes sweet and smoky and does leave a weighted fog behind my eyes, but it doesn’t feel like sleep and I think it’ll take two joints to get me there.

I look forward to the new year. To resetting my attitude, my work style, my ideas. We’re given all sorts of opportunities to reset like this, but we’re not always able to take advantage of them. Sometimes because of our situations, responsibilities, limitations, or selves. This year I want to do more, and fear less.

 

Cyn Marts is an east-coast Boricua living on the west coast, searching for her own path through life's bullshit. She spends her time practicing self-care, devouring pop culture, and working as a publicist and editor in Portland, Oregon. She writes a cannabis lifestyle zine series called Ganja Bruja and posts about it under her Instagram.