How Weed Became a White Girl Thing

Article by Beca Grimm, Fusion


Her tone is glib, though she is clearly educated. She flexes a strong hashtag game, an eye for minimalist design. She is a beginner at reading tarot. She has opinions about Drake’s new album Views. She can paint a perfect cat-eye while high as fuck. She doesn’t fit the mold of the 1990s-era Spencers Gifts pothead, or the one the War on Drugs invented. She is a newish human iteration: She’s the beta stoner.

When “Broad City” emerged in 2014, it was lauded in part because characters Abbi and Ilana smoked weed frequently, but in a functioning way. It showed marijuana’s growth in one corner of society, where young white women held down jobs and personal relationships, getting high often without completely going up in smoke.

Alanna Vanacore, a 28-year-old white visual artist who lives in Brooklyn, is of this breed. She’s used marijuana for more than 10 years in some capacity. A clean, platinum bob sprouts from the top of her head, framing her face—not a mass of oily, matted hair. She says she smokes or uses a vaporizer a few times a week, usually to prep for painting or to deal with anxiety. She sleeps under a luxurious feather down comforter, tucked in an immaculate white slip. She doesn’t own one piece of tie-dyed clothing. The woman hustles, too, working a part-time administrative job in addition to selling her own work and producing shows to help peddle it.

There isn’t much in the way of an official census in regards to how many women in the U.S. use marijuana now, before, or ever, really. But if recent,frenzied media coverage (and legislative changes) are any indication, more and more women are sparking up. A boyfriend or male companion isn’t imperative to the equation. Instead, I’ve noticed more women around me attaining their own herb, and as their profile is growing they’re getting their own Instagram-ready products, too, like cutesy printed rolling papers and gold-dipped one-hitters.

On one hand, the feminization of weed can be seen as empowering—stripping the culture of its once hyper-masculine, Cheech & Chongpresumptions. But there’s an inherent whiteness to this new breed. Although the state of New York still deems marijuana largely illegal, Vanacore and the girls in “Broad City” don’t run a huge risk carrying a spliff’s worth of herb or less. Almost two years ago, the New York Police Department adopted a new policy that limited low-level marijuana charges to writing tickets. But more importantly, as the American Civil Liberties Union has found, black people are almost four times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. So even as weed-smoking becomes a casual, female activity, the question of who gets to visibly participate in the culture still often breaks down along racial lines.

Missy Elliott, no matter that she’s one of the greatest hustlers of our time, is still remembered for Passing that Dutch. Rihanna’s marijuana use, obsessively catalogued by fans, is referred to by media outlets as part of a party-girl behavior that’s unhinged. In other words: Everyone loves the lady-stoner, just as long as she’s white.

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