I’ve never really liked smoking pot. More to the point, I’ve never really liked the way pot makes me feel: foggy and sleepy and clumsy. Once, while stoned, I attempted to make a peppermint tea and ended up pouring a kettle of boiling water onto my hand. I was in my early twenties at the time, and though I was no pothead, a night out with friends usually included passing around a joint. But even after a few small puffs, I often found myself feeling much higher than I wanted to be. The realization would hit with a sudden thwap, my heart would race and I’d worry about how long the high would last. And the lethargy, bloodshot eyes and salt-and-vinegar Miss Vickie’s binges that followed didn’t exactly correspond with my idea of myself as an ambitious young professional.
I had already cut back to using it just a few times a year when, during a Christmas party at a colleague’s home, a batch of special brownies was served alongside a Middle Eastern-style spread of falafel, tabbouleh, hummus and eggplant. I went for it. Good food, work chums and weed: It should have been a fabulous combination. But the brownie made me anxious and uncomfortable, not my usual chatty self. I felt as though I didn’t belong. I couldn’t figure out how to engage in the conversation and wondered if everyone there secretly despised me. I was 30 years old, and it was the last time I got high.
I tell you this not because my experience is particularly unique, but precisely because it seems pretty common. I tried it when I was young; I didn’t like how it made me feel; I stopped. It just wasn’t for me. And now that I’m a boss at work and a mother at home, the idea of casually using pot to unwind — the hassle of buying it, rolling it and smelling like it, and the possibility that it might all go sideways — seems even more preposterous.
I am, however, in the exact demographic targeted by a new wave of cannabis companies positioning weed as the ultimate self-care aid, and betting that professional women, including mothers, are the key to this untapped market. If Statistics Canada’s most recent data is to be believed, 3.4 million Canadians ages 15 and up currently use pot. But according to an Ipsos poll from September, 2017, that number could nearly triple when weed is legalized on Oct. 17. The tactic to lure millions of potential female customers is all about health and wellness. New brands will sell strains that boast relief from stress, aches and anxiety, and others promising to infuse our lives with deeper sleep and better sex — not to mention make us more productive workers and more present when we’re with our kids. If these companies have their way, the old stoner stereotype of bong hits, Pink Floyd and lay-about college dudes will be replaced by candles, Beyoncé and women attempting to have it all (or being way more chill about not coming close). As April Pride, founder of Van der Pop, which makes beautifully designed pot paraphernalia put it: “Our goal is to make sure that a woman has her happiest and healthiest life, and show her the ways in which cannabis can support her in that goal.”
With the chorus getting louder on the harmful effects of alcohol on women, and as someone who struggles with both relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep, this sounded pretty good to me. So, four years after that last bite of brownie, I decided to give weed a second chance. I got on a plane and spent three days in L.A., enjoying hikes, massages and microdoses of marijuana courtesy of the world’s most buzzed-about cannabis company. I wanted to see if all this talk about pot as a wonder-woman drug had any merit or if weed marketers were high on their own supply.