This month’s focus is on women’s history. Like in so many other industries, women and their contributions are too often overlooked in the cannabis space. In honor of women’s history, we’re taking a look way back to ancient times through modern-day technological advancements from women who made an impact in the world of cannabis.
Women in Cannabis
There’s a strong tie between cannabis and ancient goddess worship. An illustration of the goddess of wisdom depicts the image of a cannabis leaf above her head at the Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt. The world’s oldest worshipped goddess Kali-Ma had disciples who used cannabis to promote their sexual liberation.
Photo credit: Olaf Tausch
At the beginning of the third millennium BC, goddesses and plants were admired as healers. One of many women affiliated with cannabis at the time was Sumerian Goddess Ishtar who practiced whole plant healing arts. Aztec and Mayan women steamed the plant to relieve menstrual pains. In the late 19th century, Queen Victoria’s doctor prescribed cannabis to treat her menstrual cramps.
One female cannabis rights activist who made an impact in a public way lived right here in the Bay Area. Her name was Mary Jane Rathbun (also known as Brownie Mary). At the end of the 1970s, Rathbun baked and distributed cannabis-infused brownies from her home in San Francisco.
During the AIDS crisis in the following decade, she notoriously handed out free edibles to primarily gay men to help treat their wasting symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy.
Despite being arrested many times, she dedicated herself to cannabis law reform and influenced the passing of Proposition 215 in California to legalize medicinal cannabis. She went on to help open the country’s first medical cannabis dispensary in 1992.
The Future is Female
According to a recent joint study by Women Grow and New Frontier Data, women are making remarkable history in the cannabis industry. Of the 1,700 surveyed cannabis professionals, 57% claimed that they work for [majority] women-owned companies. Thirty percent of those in the study reported that the company they work for is 100% owned by women.
So, what can we expect to see in the future of women in cannabis? Our partners at Khemia are female founders, cannabis experts, and healers who love sharing their knowledge. They passionately craft and develop a guide for everyone’s personal cannabis journey. “We carefully select each flower for specific effects and symptom relief, giving you the ability to cater to your body’s natural chemistry,” it says on their homepage.
The word “khemia” comes from the root words “chemistry” and “alchemy” in Greek and Arabic. The suffix “mia” means mine. The name of this brand speaks to its legacy to revive cannabis artistry and preserve cannabis history.
The founders of Khemia have done a heavy amount of lobbying work and have over 35 years combined work experience. Two of the leading ladies at Khemia are board members of the National Cannabis Industry Association and have also been long-time members of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) and members of other industry organizations like the California Growers Association and California NORML. One big pillar of their mission is to help other women become entrepreneurs in cannabis.
“When Prop 64 passed, we realized that many legacy manufacturers wouldn’t be able to continue to work in cannabis because of the barriers to entry in the newly regulated market,” co-founder Manndie Tingler said. “We wanted to help them find a way to keep doing what they love, making medicine for patients, in the industry they helped create. These people are medicine makers and culinary experts, and didn’t want to be burdened with challenges that came with running a Prop 64 regulated cannabis business, so we opened a manufacturing company and immediately partnered with legacy medicine makers to create a place where their formulations would continue to be made and then brought to the world under the Khemia brand name.”
These legacy manufacturers become Khemia’s business partners who get to give up the stress of overhead of cost of goods, distribution, branding, sales, and other costs. All the flower Khemia sources comes from legacy farmers, who are also often social equity qualified, women-owned, or LBGTQ-owned businesses. “We put a lot of intention and thought into this labor of love,” Tingler mentioned.
One of the lovely Khemia products you’ll find on the shelf at ECO is the Cherry Cheesecake Rose Pre-Roll. This Indica-dominant strain comprises Kimbo Kush and Cherry Pie grown by Sonoma Hill Farms. It tastes like sweet cherry and chocolate enveloped in the delicate aroma of rose petals. Pick this up before a movie, perusing an art gallery, or hanging out with friends.
Edibles by Khemia
Khemia’s Zen Sip drink line was released during the holiday season last year. Their first flavors were Chakra Chai and Cosmic Cocoa. These mixes allow consumers to enjoy cannabis discreetly. In May, they plan to release spring and summer drink flavors. This line of beverage mixes are the brainchild of legacy operator Angela Kadara of the late Medizen Inc. Kadara now runs Khemia’s production department and sits on the advisory board for Khemia. She is now a shareholder of the brand as well.
All of Khemia’s edibles and drink mixes are quality-controlled. Plus, they’re between 3 and 25 calories, vegan, gluten- and sugar-free, and packed with flavor. Check out the Cosmic Cocoa (THC 10mg) and Chakra Chai (THC and CBD, 9:1) here. They’ll introduce Magical Mango and raspberry cold drink mixes this spring and summer, and the spiced cider mix coming out in the fall!