Paying homage to National Women's Month, Cannabis Science and Technology's website published a feature highlighting 35 women who have made an impact on the science of cannabis in the past year. These women will be speaking at the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference in Baltimore, MD, this April. These women include social activists, filmmakers, scientists, nurses, doctors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, to name a few. According to the feature, 2019 is shaping up to be "the year of the woman". Apparently, this rings true for women in today's cannabis scene. Here is a small sample of the list to introduce some interesting and intelligent women making waves in the marijuana market.
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We will start with Abby Epstein, Executive Director for the film Weed the People. Through her film, (produced by talk-show host Ricki Lake) she explored the life-saving qualities of cannabis. She profiled a number of families suffering from life or death diseases which could benefit from medical marijuana. In late December 2018, she told the online newsletter, CannaTechToday.com, "There’s [sic] so many more people that you see that are living with cancer for a long, long period of time. It’s kind of striking to me that you hear their stories, then you hear that their doctors are so amazed and impressed by their results... (yet) the doctors aren’t recommending [medical marijuana] ... because they’re scared of the legality". Films like hers have the capacity of reaching many people and have been known to influence public opinion.
Former commissioner, Deborah Miran, will also make an appearance. As a member of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from 2013 to 2016, Ms. Miran, developed education programs for doctors and patients. She also played an important role in crafting current marijuana regulations in Maryland. She recently battled leukemia and ultimately had to have a bone marrow transplant. Her immune-suppressive drugs had unwanted side effects, such as nausea, poor appetite, and weight loss. She found her salvation in medical marijuana, upon which she relied until she could come off the immune-suppressive drugs, at which point she ceased.
We also have Tracy Ryan, the CEO of CannaKids, a California-based brand with a focus on supplying medical cannabis oil products to “Patients of All Ages.” Ryan has partnered with some of the leading research scientists to study cannabis' effects on cancer and in our own bodies. It is Ryan's hope that more research will uncover the medicinal properties of cannabis to design disease-specific cannabinoid-based treatments.
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While we cannot obviously cover all of the speakers (the reader is referred here for the full list), but we can acknowledge the large strides these women have made in the push for legalization. It is important to note, however, that this event is pro-marijuana. So, there are no women speakers to discuss the putative harms of the drug. For example, Dr. Nora Volkow, PhD, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, will not be there. This is despite the many contributions she has made to the study of adolescent marijuana use and adult manifestation of depression.
These 35 women are indeed exceptional and very successful, great role models for other women and girls. Yet we should acknowledge the absence of successful women on the other side of the debate, which deprives us of a fuller picture of the marijuana scene. However, whatever their perspective, we cannot deny their important contributions to the debate. And that should be the main focus of our attention.