Drug Law

Are Women the Key to Legalizing Marijuana?

| by NORML

By Russ Belville

Daniela Perdomo has written a fantastic piece on Alternet entitled “The Secret to Legal Marijuana? Women” featuring a look at some of our favorite NORML women

In 2005, only 32 percent of polled women told Gallup they approved legalizing pot, but this year 44 percent of them were for it, compared to 45 percent of men. In effect, women have narrowed what had been a 12-point gender gap.

Women are also smoking more weed. The most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that current marijuana use increased from 3.8 to 4.5 percent among women, while there was no significant statistical change for men.

…Cheryl Shuman, a 49-year-old optician in Los Angeles, would agree. Up until she started using cannabis therapy to treat her cancer, she was on a daily regimen of 27 prescription drugs, attached to a mobile intravenous morphine pump, and undergoing constant CAT and MRI scans. In 2006, her doctors told her she’d be dead by the end of that year.

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This year, Shuman became the founding director of Beverly Hills’ National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chapter — and she hopes to attract women to the cause.

…Enter Jessica Corry, a pro-life Republican from Denver. A mother of girls aged two and four, this 30-year-old newly-minted lawyer is widely hailed as a rising star in Colorado politics. … Mothers like Corry are drawn to marijuana regulation as part of a larger appeal that encourages the use of harm reduction to more pragmatically deal with substance abuse. … This year, there was a 37 percent increase in teens who said pot is easier to buy than cigarettes, beer or prescription drugs. Nearly one-quarter said they can get weed within the hour.

Those stats matter to women. In light of this, children and family will be included in the mission statement of the Women’s Alliance, a group NORML will launch next year. The coordinator, Sabrina Fendrick, plans to include mention of how current marijuana policy undermines the American family and sends mixed messages to young people.

Be sure to click over and read the entire article, as it also spotlights important female allies like Valerie Corral, Mikki Norris, and Debbie Goldsberry, who have all generously donated their time and expertise to our NORML podcasts and numerous NORML conferences, and my newest acquaintance, Deborah Small, who presented on my panel at the DPA Reform Conference last month. I agree with Perdomo; women will be the key to ending adult marijuana prohibition, just as women were key to ending liquor prohibition.

Ladies, won’t you join us? NORML is always looking for accomplished and confident women to join and lead chapters at the grassroots level all across the country. Send me an email at [email protected] and I can put you in touch with Sabrina and the forthcoming NORML Women’s Alliance as well.