Name: Jessica Assaf
Current location: Venice, California
City you were born in: San Rafael, California
Tell us about the concept for Cannabis Feminist: I started Cannabis Feminist after discovering the femininity of cannabis and realizing that women have the power to shift the cannabis conversation. The cannabis plant we cultivate and use is female, and in order to bloom single female flowers must come together. That is exactly what is happening in the industry. The highest percentage of female executives are in cannabis. The cannabis industry has the potential to be the first billion-dollar industry run by women. Women have the opportunity to build the cannabis industry from scratch, with our own values and high standards. In that way, cannabis is a gateway for unprecedented female leadership, towards a new feminism that we are defining and building together.
Why did you create it? What was your ah-ha moment? When I moved to Los Angeles I immediately started meeting inspiring women working in the cannabis industry. We instantly bond because we all have a real connection to the plant. I realized that there wasn’t a time or a place for women to gather, use cannabis together, and talk about how we feel. My friend Hannah Mason has a teahouse called Dandelion Collective and we started hosting cannabis women’s circles. Our first circle was full of passionate, inspiring women who love cannabis. Women started showing up with their products to test with the group, and that’s when we realized this is the beginning of a bigger movement of women improving their health and happiness with cannabis.
What do people do at a Cannabis Feminist gathering? We gather together to test and review cannabis products, talk about our entrepreneurial or personal challenges, and discuss the ways we can work together in the industry and beyond. Everyone has a different perspective so it is fascinating and inspiring to hear how and why other women use cannabis and share the experience together.
Who comes to the gatherings? Who are you looking to attract? Are men allowed too? So far the cannabis circles have been female-focused. The group is always diverse, but we share a deep-rooted love for the plant. We are always looking for more attendees who want to bond over cannabis and help create a more feminine, inviting, modern cannabis culture.
We also host co-ed events for both women and men, such as cannabis-infused dinners and mixers. Our goal is to build a community of both women and men who are opening up other people’s minds to the benefits of the plant.
Where are these gatherings hosted and how can we score an invite? We host our cannabis women’s circles in intimate, beautiful, private spaces. The circles are open to all women and we usually announce them on the Cannabis Feminist Instagram or by email if you sign up for the Cannabis Feminist newsletter.
How much weed is smoked at gatherings? The amount of cannabis consumed at our gatherings varies, but we want everyone to feel comfortable even if they don’t smoke. We encourage all attendees to manage their tolerance and participate as much or as little as they would like. We also offer non-smoking cannabis products, such as edibles and tinctures and even some non-psychoactive CBD options.
Why feminism and weed? What’s the link? Or what was the broken link that you are trying to fix? Historically, cannabis was listed in the United States pharmacopeia until the patriarchal political system reclassified it from a medicine to a drug. Then the Dazed and Confused “stoner culture” took us further away from the healing potential of the plant. Now the industry needs women to come out of the cannabis closet and bring cannabis back to its life-nurturing identity. We need more women to not only share how cannabis improves health and wellness, but also step up and lead the industry with healthy, safe products for everyone.
Cannabis connects to feminism because we are creating an entirely new culture and industry from the beginning, without any predisposed conditions set by men. This is our chance to show the world what women can build together. Cannabis could serve as a model for many other industries in the future, and for a new feminism where women are leading an industry we create.
Tell us about your background. How do you think your experiences contributed to this venture? I have been a beauty activist since I was fifteen years old on a mission to make our cosmetics and personal care products safer. I spent many years educating the public about the potentially harmful ingredients in our products and advocating for stricter regulations protecting our health. After I graduated from Harvard Business School I finally believed it was time to shift my focus to cannabis. The cannabis industry is where the natural beauty industry was ten years ago, underdeveloped and misunderstood. I want to help rebrand cannabis from a drug to a wellness product. My experience in beauty showed me what was possible when passionate women come together to make safe and healthy products more accessible and mainstream.
What’s next for Cannabis Feminist? We are building a platform to better understand the benefits of cannabis and the best products for our health. We just launched a cannabis survey so we can begin aggregating data about how people are using cannabis. We also launched a Welcome Kit so we can match people with the best CBD products for their individual needs and follow up with a survey so we can evaluate product efficacy and improve our recommendations. Ultimately it is our goal to turn personal anecdotes into meaningful statistics that help reclassify cannabis as a medicine.
We are also hosting focus groups, women’s circles, sampling programs and co-ed events with like-minded companies.
We are also bringing back the Tupperware Party called “The Bakesale” as an innovative business model for female cannabis entrepreneurs. We are hosting markets where female founders can sample and sell their products directly so that women are better positioned to lead this industry.
What about for yourself? How do you see your career evolving? On 4/20 we are launching Magu, a line of CBD wellness products in honor of Magu, the Goddess of cannabis in Chinese mythology. Magu is considered “the elixir of life” and “the symbolic protector of all women” and she represents my vision for healthy, safe and effective cannabis products.
Magu is a line of organic beauty products activated with CBD and other powerful herbs. We want CBD to become a universal wellness product so we are integrating it into women’s beauty routines with the highest quality plant-derived ingredients.
Can you talk to us about some of the medical advantages of marijuana, particularly for women? In my experience, cannabis eases stress and anxiety, soothes pain such as headaches and menstrual cramping, and enhances sexual pleasure. On a deeper level, cannabis has boosted my confidence and has helped me love myself. I feel happier when I use cannabis.
Women have told me cannabis helps with their sleeping issues, depression, menopause symptoms, nausea and pain, and much more. Many women believe cannabis helps them connect to their spirituality and live more mindfully.
What new trends are we going to start to see in the weed industry? We are already seeing an explosion of new cannabis products, such as topicals, lubricants, tinctures, sprays, and edibles. I hope we start seeing more experience-based trends, such as cannabis co-working spaces and coffee shops where we can use cannabis products and work throughout the day.
– Favorite strain of weed: Grand Daddy Purple
– Favorite way to eat weed: In my Magu herbal sprays, launching on 4/20!
– How often do you smoke weed? I use cannabis products every day, whether that is a joint or a spray or topical.
How does smoking benefit your everyday life? Cannabis relaxes me and helps me evaluate situations from a new perspective. It can enhance any mood you are in, both positive and negative, but if you use cannabis intentionally, it can inspire you every day.
Biggest misconception about people who smoke weed? You don’t have to get “high” to use cannabis. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the other primary cannabinoid in cannabis and it is non-psychoactive, so you may experience relaxing effects but your mind will remain sharp and clear.
What’s one thing you could say to people who don’t smoke weed? I genuinely believe there is a cannabis strain or product that could help you. Because of the lack of scientific and human data on the benefits of cannabis, it is difficult to figure out how to self-medicate and usually one negative experience will deter someone from trying cannabis again. However, there are so many different types of cannabis and there really is something for everyone. Start with a microdose and work up from there.