By Sharon Stoned
Men and women – can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other. The two genders can either find mutual agreement or fight viciously over just about anything, and that certainly includes cannabis.
Generally speaking, men are more into pot than women; statistical polls, mountains of anecdotal evidence and even a bit of biochemistry support this hypothesis. A 2010 Rasmussen poll of Colorado residents revealed that a solid 58 percent of men supported outright pot legalization, while only 39 percent of women did. In a similar 2010 Gallup national survey, the balance stood at 51 percent of men and only 41 percent of women in support. However, the 2011 Angus Reid poll reported a more balanced 57 percent of men and 53 percent of women supporting legalization.
Women who do embrace cannabis certainly enjoy the mental and sensual stimulation it renders; so why does the fairer sex generally respond to it with less frequency and with less passion?
For every devoted female stoner, there seem to be a few more with a “take it or leave it” attitude. Sometimes external factors will prevent a woman from partaking with her partner, such as being pregnant, having to breastfeed or undergo job-related drug testing when the man does not – allowing him to smoke merrily away.
Many a relationship has been broken up – or solidified – by pot’s influence in the male-female romantic relationship dynamic. When it’s a source of conflict, pot can be a deal-breaker for some couples, depending on who smokes and who doesn’t.
In an (extremely) unscientific survey of several stoners – ranging from their late 20’s to early 40’s; some married, some single – we queried couples about cannabis romances. While some men said their wives/girlfriends bake with them all the time, others had to contend with the “seesaw factor.” Sometimes pot’s cool; at other times, it’s a source of conflict. Also it seems, a number of married guys smoke regularly and manage to avoid letting their wives know the truth. Even in the single world such deception is necessary; one guy said he dated a female cop and stayed with her because of the great sex, despite the obvious need to keep his pot use hidden. Not surprisingly, the relationship didn’t last.
Some wives believe their husbands quit – one guy’s been hiding his habit for five years running – while others tolerate it with disapproval and use it as leverage within the relationship. However, many long-married couples report that pot can render sex more exciting and refresh a long-term relationship.
There may be a biological explanation for that fluctuating female attitude towards pot. Human sexual dimorphism is the observable variances in characteristics between males and females, and this relates to how pot affects the sexes differently. A woman’s endocannabinoid system also regulates her reproductive system, and both fluctuate on a monthly basis. In fact, PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) is a deficiency of cannabinoids in a woman, part of the reason she might feel more emotionally and physically out of sorts during that “time of the month,” and may explain while many women use medical marijuana to combat PMS symptoms. It could also be related to how some women oscillate in their opinions towards their man’s use of pot at varying times.
There also may be some inherent fundamental gender differences that lay at the very heart of the male/female cannabis conflict. Men tend to be more single-minded, capable of getting lost in themselves and their interests/obsessions, while women tend to be more social and don’t always care for the isolated mental states provided by pot.
Probing deeper, it’s been asserted that women crave security in the same way men crave respect. Marijuana’s outlaw status and its tendency to inspire alternative thinking causes us to question preconceived notions of the world. Pot represents a loosening, if not outright shattering, of the boundaries of security – such as the risk of arrest for using it. If that doesn’t disrupt a sense of security, nothing will!
What will it take to bring women and men closer on cannabis? Medical marijuana is a good start, as many women not only use, but also provide it to patients as caregivers, a role that often comes more instinctively to them than men. A 2010 Pew Research Center poll found that an overwhelming 72 percent of women favored legalizing medicinal cannabis, dovetailing nicely with 74 percent of men in support.
Ultimately, it may take the legalization of pot – and its inclusion in mainstream culture – for women to accept it on a mass scale. But it will require women who tacitly support the legal use of marijuana to start using their voices – loudly.