Have you ever noticed how there are a lot of dudes in the cannabis world? I realised this the first time I went to a hemp fair and the only women were wearing micro shorts, crop tops, and handing out goodie bags from grow shops.
That's not to say that women aren't participating in the global cannabis movement. Organisations like Women Grow, Norml Women's Alliance and Canna-fem provide forums for women to connect and network, plus the recently launched magazine Broccoli is aimed at the high-end, female cannabis connoisseur market. And according to MJBizDaily women hold 36% of executive level positions in the cannabis industry.
But still, seeing as this is my blog and I get to write about what the hell I like, I want to celebrate my cannabis heroines of 2017.
1. Carola Perez
There is a before and after in Carola's life. Before, when she was any ordinary 11-year-old girl, and the after, the moment she broke her coccyx in a rollerskating accident. Next followed a period of time that remains much a blur, surgery followed surgery, prescription painkillers, morphine, and antidepressants were dished out. Finally doctors removed Carola's coccyx completely.
However, excrutiating pain dominated every waking moment of Carola's existance. Until that is she tried cannabis; first in a tea, and then vaporizing, smoking and extracts.
Struck by the therapeutic benefit she experienced, Carola set up the Spanish patient's association Dosemociones. In 2015 she was a driving force behind the initiation of the Spanish Medical Cannabis Observatory of which she is President, along with other members of the Spanish research community such as Manuel Guzman and Cristina Sanchez.
The Observatory's principal aim is to bring about the regulation of medical cannabis in Spain and Carola's tireless campaigning has been instrumental convincing the Spanish government to examine the possibility of legalizing medical cannabis. The fight is far from over as right now the issue is being looked at in a slow moving, sub-commission. But rest assured Carola and the Observatory will maintain the pressure until some form of regulation has been achieved.
2. Vera Twomey
Warrior mum of four Vera from Southern Ireland captured global attention, thanks to her determined battle to get medical cannabis for her 8-year-old daughter Ava.
When the Irish Health Minister Simon Harries wouldn't grant Ava a license for a CBD/THC combination she and husband Paul believed she needed, Vera decided to take the case to the Minister's very own doorstep, walking 260km from County Cork to the Irish Parliament in Dublin.
Despite various meetings, the Minister refused to change his position and so Vera, husband Paul and the whole family moved to the Hague in Holland where they'd found treatment for Ava with a consultant pediatrician.
Eventually, after several months seizure free, Ava was granted the medical cannabis license and she returned home with her mother to Ireland.
Vera's single-minded determination not only changed the fate of her own child Ava, but also that of many other patients in Ireland who can now legally apply to use medical cannabis.
3. Abigial Dar
Another determined mum is Israeli Abigail Dar. Her son Yuval is severely autistic and as well as self-injurious behaviour, was violent towards Abigail and her family.
Abigail fought for Yuval to use medical cannabis, and in the words of Abigail: “It was like magic. My son became a calm person, more concentrated, having a smile on his face. And over a year, he didn’t show any self injurious behaviour or any outbursts, which for me and for him is a miracle. It was life changing.”
Seeing the change in Yuval, Abigail began campaigning for autism to be generally recognised as a qualifying condition in Israel. She succeeded and is now involved in a data gathering project with Professor Dedi Meiri tracking over 400 autistic children who are taking medical cannabis.
4. Sue Sisley
Another shining example of sheer tenacity is Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist and former Assistant Professor at the Universtiy of Arizona. She is overseeing a clincial trial examining the efficacy of Cannabis for the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in US Army veterans. However, it's been no easy road for Sisley and her PTSD study after the University of Arizona would not provide a location for the trial to take place. Sisley pulled no punches when she revealed their refusal, or when she outed the substandard plant material provided by Mississippi University, the only approved supplier of cannabis for medical research in the US.
Thankfully, the PTSD trial has found a home and is taking place at the Scottsdale Research Insitute.
5. Viola Brugnatelli
Viola is a Neuroscientist specialising in cannabinoid circuitry. She is also the founder and driving force behind the cannabinoid focussed website Nature Going Smart, that unpacks science, mostly but not exclusively cannabis related, while maintaining a strong commitment towards natural therapies, medicinal plants and holistic health.
Her very informative Youtube channel gets to grips with topics as varied as hemp sprouts, natural remedies for alzheimer's, and raw cannabis juicing.
Last year Facebook tried to take her site down, but thankfully, Nature Going Smart and Viola continue to keep spreading informative news about cannabis and natural health.
But maybe you can think of some other inspirational women in cannabis who should get a mention. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.