At the core of anthropology there is one fundamental lesson: there is no such thing as “right” or “wrong”, only culture. The relationship between humans and the cannabis plant is just another reiteration of this foundational understanding of cross-cultural variation. In our society, cannabis is exponentially attracting more political attention, however cannabis has been cultivated by people for at least 4,000 years. It seems appropriate to investigate the relationship between humans and cannabis from an anthropological perspective instead of a political one. This year at the 2015 American Anthropological Association Meeting in Denver, there will even be special event titled “Cannabis Cultures”.
Historically consumed by a plethora of societies around the world, cannabis has been used medicinally, recreationally, and ritually for thousands of years. The image of the marijuana leaf symbolizes an exceptional variety of concepts and meanings to different people and cultures. The relationship between this ancient plant and humans is bizarre, ranging everywhere between a fashion statement worn on socks in some societies to the most miraculous medicine in others. Symbolic anthropology allows us to explore the cultural and social contexts of cannabis within our society. Medical marijuana is currently available in 23 states and Washington, DC. Widespread fear that legalizing cannabis would increase crime and drug use has been undermined by states such as Colorado who have actually experienced a decrease in both teenage drug use and drug-related crime. The White House has even acknowledged the “dramatic” decrease in deaths from prescription pills in the states that have chosen to legalize medical marijuana. Just a few years ago, and even still in some aspects within our culture, there were completely different symbols and stereotypes associated with cannabis. The image of the cannabis leaf symbolized lethargy, unproductiveness, and evoked terms such as “burnout” or “stoner”. Cannabis symbolized the gateway to further drug use and has been excessively associated with criminal activity. Our culture has slowly begun to shift away from this mindset, making the pivotal distinction between treating cannabis as a health issue instead of a criminal one. Now the cannabis leaf can begin to symbolize freedom and our culture can now associate cannabis use with medicating instead of intoxicating.
While a feminist anthropologist could universally evaluate the correlation of cannabis and culture, there are specific examples of the relationship between the plant and women in our society. The flourishing cannabis industry is undeniable, creating over 200,000 jobs just in the past year and inspiring many groups like Women Grow to form. Women Grow is a Denver organization with the mission to “connect, educate, and empower the next generation of cannabis industry leaders by creating a community for aspiring and current female business executives.” These types of organizations serve as a catalyst for females to influence and succeed in the cannabis industry especially as the end of cannabis prohibition unravels on a national scale.
 http://www.anthropology-news.org/index.php/2015/10/19/cannabis-cultures-special-event-at-aaa-2015/ accessed 11 November 2015
 http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/colorado-legal-marijuana-charts-statistics accessed 12 November 2015
 http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/14/6-facts-about-marijuana/ accessed 10 November 2015