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Has The Marijuana Movement Moved Beyond The ‘Stripper Phase’

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marijuana girlDoes The Marijuana Movement Still Need To Use Sex As A Marketing Tool

Sex and marijuana have been used together since the very beginning of the movement. Reefer madness supporters used the combination of sex and marijuana in a negative way to scare society into thinking that marijuana was evil. Some marijuana supporters, especially the baby boom generation, considered marijuana use and sexual freedom to go hand in hand. It’s no secret that the use of sex in marketing is a very effective way to get people’s attention. It is also no secret that many male marijuana supporters like to see attractive women in pictures and videos with marijuana. But I ask the question, is it still needed?

Let me clear the air a bit – I like attractive women. I’m like any other stereotypical male that is hardwired to pay more attention to something when I see an attractive woman attached to it. Whether I’m watching TV, at an event, walking down the road, etc, I just can’t help but take a glance. When you combine the fact that I also like marijuana, I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of the head turn from time to time.

As the marijuana movement becomes more mainstream, and especially as the medical marijuana community continues to grow, the clash between the crowd calling for political correctness and those that want to see attractive women has been gaining steam. Anyone who has been to a marijuana event (recreational or medical), especially in Southern California, has no doubt noticed that many of the booths use women who may – or may not – work in the adult entertainment industry. I have heard from many activists that this is bad for the movement, because no one will take us seriously if we have women in G-strings promoting marijuana reform. On the other side of the coin, I have heard many activists say that they don’t know what the big deal is, and that we should be using anything that helps. Those same activists point out that regardless if people think it’s OK or not, almost everyone looks at the girl, who then can highlight the message.

While I have talked to many people in private about this subject, I can’t find too many articles about it on the web to spark discussion. Since I’m a guy who likes to highlight the elephant in the room, I figured I would post this article to get the conversation going. I’m going to forward the link to Mom’s for Marijuana, as well as the NORML Women’s Alliance to see if they would like to have members comment. I would imagine finding people on the pro side won’t be quite as hard, considering the response I get from articles with pictures of attractive women in them!

What do readers think? Does a ‘hot chick’ contest have any place at medical marijuana events? Do you think that this is all ridiculous and we should be focusing on something else? If you have strong views either way, please comment below so that we can rip the band-aid off and get the conversation going.

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Johnny Green

44 Comments

  1. I run a medical marijuana event in Arizona. The Errl Cup, we hold 2 annual cups twice a year. Our event is all about medical marijuana, patient appreciation and dispensary accountability. Our vendors use what they want to get their booth notices. In my opinion, Women, Men and Sex will always be part of any industry, almost every industry uses it in some way. In the cannabis industry its the same, we dont have a hottest model, or cannabis girl at our events. Not opposite to it, but we are focused on providing clean medication for patients. If sex gets the dispensaries to produce clean medication and provide it to patients. Bring in all the sex we can get.. if it leads to clean medicine.. its a good thing.

  2. I’m sure we could dig into YouTube and find an enormous amount of videos with drunks making fools of themselves, a lot more so than pot lovers. And the naked, semi-naked-hippy culture of the 60’s was, well, the 60’s. Unless you’re talking about people worshiping cannabis right now by cavorting around naked which, considering people who worship a god or the constitution, seems pretty harmless overall. Main Street is a fictional place and really looks different everywhere these days, but if you’re talking about the harm to regular folk who might want to embrace cannabis, then I think you give us average people too little credit.

    As for Seattle’s newest industry group, if the new cannabis industry chooses not to embrace one marketing style, then it is their prerogative. Marketing styles are supposed to reflect a targeted group of consumers, so the ladies who don’t wear much (and the consumers they attract) are totally different than the ones the new cannabis industry is targeting. Just as the beer industry targets certain markets during sports events and car races, and markets differently to consumers who attend neither of these events.

    If we want to look at problems in marketing and advertising, let’s talk about big pharma. They have been fined over and over again for marketing and selling drugs off-label, yet they continue to do it. What I’m saying is that when you compare the cannabis industry to any other, then you see that you’re making a big deal out of something that should not be a big deal.

  3. Good point, if there are going to be half naked people promoting the issue then why not have sexy men doing it too?

  4. I own/operate the Thundershade Bong Maidens. A medical marijuana based promotional modeling group. I go to great lengths to ensure that my models retain a level of class instead of showin their ass. I know sex sells, but it’s not the only way to sell something. We want to be a part of the solution, not the problem. I choose girls that are activists for the cause, not just pretty faces & hot bodies. Myself & my girls are REAL women. Some are married, some are mothers, young-old-tall-short-skinny-curvy… REAL. I want my girls to be able to work booths and know what they’re talking about. There are other groups out there that focus on showing as much skin as possible – I focus on fighting the good fight. We’re not selling liquor, were trying to educate the public and bring this MEDICINE to the mainstream. I know it’s just my own two cents but there it is :) ~MrsT

  5. I was in the DEC issue of NW Leaf. Two pages before strain of the month modeling the new “Save Medical Cannabis” shirts. I as a model and activist like to keep them fairly separate but was able to use my modeling skills for this project in nice conservative fashion rather than the more sexy looks I’ve done in past. Very happy to be a part of such a great community.

  6. Love it nice posts by both. As a model and activist they (bud girls/marijuana porn and actual serious mmj ads) should stay separate. As long as no one is harming another so be it. To each their own. This does need to be talked about more.

  7. make.it.all.legal on

    how about the media stays the fuck out of it. show a cancer patient smoking a joint ,bowel, vaporizer etc. show how they feel before and after. before sick cant eat.not happy cause all they can, really think about is how much more chemotherapy will I go through. ” which kills people faster the. any drug on earth” So aftet the person is happy there eating and maybe enjoying famliy time out of the hospital. doctors kill pmore people then all the drugs combined. Really they should legalize all drugs. tax it and ha e certain location in every city and county, be a location where people have to go to do there drug of choice. not only will everyone be able to see what going on but they, also learn what happens.
    look people are always curious when something is illegal. humans will do it cause of the fesr of being caught. the risk is a high in itself. the they do the drug and bam fear is gone there happy and licfe goes on. but big government lets big pharmaceutical companies get to kill us with paxi Zoloft xanax oxycodine etc. they make more the $350 billion a year they buy the government each and every election. so why cant they make it legal. think.about that before u vote or when your at walgreens or.riteaid,.cvs etc. who is the money going.to????

  8. Cliff Alexander on

    It’s a very real part of the culture. Don’t start focusing on it as though it’s a problem. People decide to take part in this aspect if they like, it’s a choice.

  9. When I think about advertising, I think about the mass media selling the masses something they don’t really need.

  10. I think it’s time to move on from the “Hot Chick” contests, especially in the medical marijuana industry (I think it’s inevitable once the recreational industry gets up and going, unfortunately).

    And if sex sells” as so many commenters have mentioned below, let’s get real here and be aware that a lot of smokers are female, and half naked girls only sell to about half of your consumers.

  11. I have taught my girls outside is not as important as inside but if ya got it and YOU want to use it then go for it. Respectable parenting from a member of the cause, that is inspiring.

  12. It’s only an embarrassment, if it causes hostile protest, and dragging more attention to the subject.

  13. No, we shouldn’t be using women this way, but they are consenting adults. Like marijuana as adults we have to teach the differences between a pro, or a true woman. If have and choose to flaunt then do so just not at family events. If your an adult and offended because your man is looking at the girl in the G-String get over yourself.

  14. Stefani Quane, J.D. on

    Seattle newest industry group, the Association of Breeders and Growers, is hosting an industry event in 2014. The founder specifically mentioned he didn’t want booth babes at it. I know MANY women are offended by industry promoting products with the services of marketing babes in skimpy, sexy outfits. That is a marketing trait from the boy bonger culture which has been a backbone of the cannabis movement. We also have the naked and semi-naked hippy culture of cannabis where stoned chicks like to cavort and worship the sacred aspect of the plant via wild, uninhibited ecstatic dance – with the less clothes the better. Will this be seen as an embarrassment to the movement, as well, and something to be scorned as Main Street embraces cannabis?

  15. Sexualizing the movement makes it all the more taboo for conservatives to get on board with. If we want to be taken seriously we need to cultivate a professional image. In addition, the conversation around “rape culture” has become just as mainstream as the conversation around legalization and objectifying women degrades the marijuana movement.
    As a marijuana activist, a woman and a victim of sexual abuse, I do not think that the adult entertainment industry has any place in the marijuana movement and harms our image much more than helping it.
    I look forward to a time when not only can I take bong rips without fear of prosecution but also without comments like “god damn this is embarrassing, she can take bigger hits than I can!”. I have an awesome lung capacity, it’s genetic and I’ve been smoking for 6 years. Don’t feel emasculated, just be impressed.

  16. I personally think once pot is legal, sell it how you want to. My problem is that many of the advertisers are working for ‘medical’ marijuana. They don’t even sell Viagra with such vulgarity. It is reinforcing that the medical marijuana industry is not about patients it is about consumers… just wish they were honest about it.

  17. I don’t think the girl in the picture is going to persuade the reefer madness people to join our cause. We need more inclusive images. In fact, I think a more scientific approach is the correct way to persuade the final 10%, we need, for full legalization.
    After its legal, just copy the Budweiser format.

    This buds for you dear.

  18. I am a mother of 3 daughters and a huge supporter of legalization. I personally have no issue with the sex industry, sexy models and the use of them to draw attention to a product. I have taught my girls outside is not as important as inside but if ya got it and YOU want to use it then go for it. BUT with this debate I do believe that having fake tanned young g string clad girls out in front or behind a booth is counterproductive to the cause right now. At this time in the movement we need to be seen as serious and professional. A “society” beauty in a nice professional look or even just covered a bit more will go over with all those coming to check out the info. We need people to rally together on this so to appease a larger group for support wait till after we get the legalization to throw ads around with bikini girls and blunts. The alcohol industry does it yes, but it’s also a legal product that sells with or without them. It’s smarter marketing and a bit of cleavage and stilletos can be just as eye pleasing in a business attire or

  19. I really want to see the industry move past strippers.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love eye candy, I turn my own head at attractive women; and I have nothing against working ladies, or those who find they can make a living with their bodies and/or faces. But I also am a woman, and I’m fed up to here with seeing my gender nigh-solely represented by fresh young 19-25 year olds who seem to exist for no good reason than to be trophies and eye candy.

    On one hand it’s rather impressive that there are SO many young, attractive, fit women willing to represent the industry. How awesome that all of them are cannabis users. But on the other, a significant percentage of users are women, and we deserve better than to be reduced to mere eye candy for the rest of you. I’m an important part of this movement too, dammit, and I’d like a little respect.

    I won’t demand that anyone eliminate eye candy because that’s just how things work; it’s part of advertising and part of the culture. (Also, I would get nowhere – and like I said I don’t mind the gorgeous ladies in and of themselves.) But the *constant* emphasis on sexually gratifying women bearing armfuls of ganja gets very, very old, and probably alienates a lot of people. Especially women, without whom this movement is going nowhere.

    I know this imagery doesn’t make me feel especially welcome, even as a lady who fancies ladies. Most guys don’t realize this, but the constant presentation of women as sex objects is threatening and demeaning when it’s aimed at you throughout your entire life. Not just to uptight feminists like me, but to your girlfriend, your sister, your mother. Most men don’t think about how their self-gratification hurts people they care about.

    Personally, I care about this cause, and I want to see it get out of the poster-laden basement, keep its Playboy magazines in the cabinet where they belong and grow the fuck up.

  20. Thank you for writing this. As a female business owner in the industry I frequently wrestle with these issues. I have turned down events and magazines because they have too sexy a vibe and when I try to explain why I am declining it seems like they dont really get it. I am not anti sex or porn or adult entertainment, BUT that is not the industry I chose to become involved in, and I have no interest in going there. I sell a gardening product. What does that have to do with sex? Why would I have a sexy model to advertise an odor proof bag? It makes no sense to me, but publishers and event promoters think that I am the uptight “feminazi” weirdo. It is so pervasive that I have had promoters approach me and tell me that they have a hot model to advertise my product- my business partner and I find this hilarious because we are both reasonably good looking young women- is the guy trying to say we are too ugly to sell our own product? yeesh… But the truth is that sex sells, so as long as guys keep mixing business with pleasure this industry will continue to turn people away that would otherwise find great value in this herbal marketplace. Here is an idea- if they like women so much, why not support woman owned canna-business rather than products that are only advertised by women? Weed is for everyone, not just men, and women have the right to feel comfortable and welcomed and entertained just as much as they do- so until I start seeing some half naked farming studs modeling their oiled up muscles- lets just leave sex out of it and focus on the healing, enlightening and fun aspects of this awesome industry. Thanks again and if you are interested check out my website GroGroGadgets.com and leave an address for a FREE SAMPLE of our Black Magic Odor Barrier Bags.

  21. The alcohol industry did and does similar things. Why can’t we?

    At the same time I’d really like it if we had more “sexy men” stuff too. There’s a lot of female smokers out there who get left out. (That’s a larger complaint with society though, not a complaint on the marijuana industry.)

  22. It is the only industry where workers are free to express their views on marijuana; particularly outside of medical usage. A VP or analyst for a corporation cannot go on the record or be associated with marijuana or they can easily lose their jobs. When it goes mainstream, we will see more mainstream folks embedded in the imagery.

  23. I think it’s a bit sexist to be honest. I understand sex sells, but as a woman who smokes marijuana, I really wish society would start using other alternatives besides sexy unrealistic women posing nearly naked. I don’t mind it at all, but there needs to be other ways to spread the message in a positive way. I feel like using these women to try to promote marijuana only “helps” men be more involved, rather than BOTH women and men.

  24. From my perspective, most of the women involved really are activists themselves. They are sexy women, that support legalization and i see nothing wrong with combining the two :) As long as the women are doing it on their own terms and do not feel ‘used’ or ‘degraded’ i think everyone is winning.

  25. As I woman, I see this as no different than attractive women used in any kind of advertising. To the (presumably) female commenter claiming “misogyny”, bark your argument to the clothing manufacturers, magazines (for women), and everything else that has a pretty face attached. Sex sells, period. Nothing in the world is going to change that. Let’s just all be happy it’s not Ron Jeremy we have to look at =)

  26. Until you “clean up” the cause and the people we are still going to be looked at as dirty druggie hippies who just want to do drugs and that doesn’t help our cause at all. I have looked at the rallies, the shows on tv about the shops, etc and all the time it looks like a bunch of drugies just wanting to get high. Which is seriously sad. I am 60 years old with severe handicaps and was forced to take a medication for naseau that paralized my stomach along with a lot of serious side effects. Funny thing is this drug cost $1,064.00 per month, I could get an ounce of good crypt for 1/3 that!!! Now I am on legal “Marinol” pills which don’t work that well and cost over $600.00 a month. You would think the insurance companies would be more supportive since the drug companies are ripping them off while killing us. Good luck!

  27. it’s a seriously offensive and pathetic strategy rooted in misogyny that leaves a lot of potential activists and allies for this cause cold. stop the pimping for pot. for many of us, smoking herb is an expression of our higher selves and a celebration of freedom…not an excuse to debase others.

  28. It’s not needed but conveniant.
    Why paint a wall gray when you can paint it green you know what I mean?

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