Now that marijuana is legal for adult use in nine states
including the massive California market, cannabis purveyors are
keen to push beyond the core demographic of stoner bros. Women have
become one the fastest-growing customer segments—whether it's
moms trading in their chardonnay for a vape pen or yoga acolytes
seeking out weed-infused pain-relievers.
Female consumers still account for only about 31 percent of the
U.S. market, according to Headset, which studies the cannabis
market. By contrast, alcohol consumption is much closer to an even
split between women and men. Hoping to get more women into its
stores, Canndescent is tailoring its products and marketing to
them. "For us, it was about taking it out of that counter-culture
visual and putting an inspirational lifestyle behind it," Sedlin
Rather than use strain names like Durban Poison and Green Crack,
Sedlin's products are named to reflect an intended effect: Calm
promises restful sleep or relief from aches; Connect is for smokers
who want to hang out with friends or get intimate. "We made a
decision that potency wasn't going to the headline," Sedlin says.
"You shouldn't need a Ph.D. in weed science to make a basic
Some women are drawn to beauty and wellness products infused
with cannabidiol, an ingredient in marijuana that doesn't get you
high. Those who want to get stoned, lean toward edibles and vape
pens, which are more discreet than joints and make it easier to
control the dose. "They're not necessarily looking to get
inebriated and they don't want to stink like a skunk because they
just smoked weed," says Linda Gilbert, managing director of
consumer insights at BDS Analytics, which tracks the marijuana
market. "It's more about taking the edge off their pain or
As the industry expands to more states and starts to mature in
markets that have already legalized marijuana, more brands are
directly targeting women. Prohbtd, a Los Angeles-based cannabis
branding and content company, has found that women consume more
edibles (cereal bars; cookies; gummies) than men, often for help
with sleep. The company has a cooking show called Pot Pie hosted by
a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef that airs online and has proven
popular with female cannabis users, according to Drake
Sutton-Shearer, the chief executive officer.
Kate Miller, one of the founders of a female-oriented online
zine called Miss Grass, realized about 10 years ago that the
cannabis market was missing a big opportunity with women. As a
student at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles,
she took a part-time job at a weed dispensary, back when pot was
legal medically and regulations were so lax that almost anyone
could get a medical card. "It was all for stoner bros," she says.
"It really didn't match up with how my friends and I were using
Miss Grass, which is backed by the rapper Snoop Dogg, recently
hosted a yoga event in New York co-sponsored by Beats by Dre, the
headphone brand owned by Apple Inc. Miss Grass positions itself as
a lifestyle brand, and is meant to be an "entry point" for women
new to cannabis, and curious about how it might fit into their
After weed was legalized in Canada last week, the magazine ran a
feature on places to eat, drink, work out and shop in Toronto.
Another recent story discussed how the infusion of cannabis into
beauty products could help end prohibition in the U.S. Miss Grass
has also published a guide for making CBD cocktails.
For women who equate weed with a glass of wine, Aspen,
Colorado-based Toast is pitching a line of premium low-dose joints,
called "slices," aimed directly at drinkers. Toast Gold is supposed
to deliver the same buzz as a glass of champagne; Toast Reserve is
supposed to mimic the effect of a Scotch. The company is using
marijuana with more CBD than is typical, with the idea that more
and more consumers are interested in casual relaxation, rather than
the intense high that can come from smoking a large joint. Toast
isn't cheap: A box of 10 joints sells for upwards of $70.
"We saw a stoner world we could disrupt," says Chris Burggraeve,
a former Anheuser-Busch chief marketing officer who helped found
the company. "THC has been all the rage in stoner circles, but
we're trying to bring in a new customer."
Meanwhile, CBD, touted as a pain reliever and stress reducer, is
finding its way into everything from face cremes and baked goods to
cocktails and sports drinks. Green Growth Brands, an Ohio company
backed by the Schottenstein family of DSW and Value City fame, is
preparing to launch a line of CBD body lotion called Seventh Sense
at a female-oriented retail chain it would rather not identify.
Peter Horvath, a veteran of Victoria Secret and American Eagle
Outfitters who runs Green Growth, says he expects the new products
to expand to thousands of stores across the U.S. and appeal to men
and women. For men, the beauty products will be something they
"find in their girlfriend's shower," Horvath says. "If you appeal
to women, everyone will want it. It's exactly the opposite of what
the industry is now."