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Women Of The Cannabis Movement: Stacia Cosner, Deputy Director Of Students For Sensible Drug Policy


stacia cosner students for sensible drug policy ssdpFor the past several months, an important conversation has been discussed more and more in the cannabis movement/industry: women and feminism. This is a discussion I not only find important, but one that is worth articulating over The Weed Blog. However, I can only articulate this point so much, so I decided to ask the prime examples of truly remarkable women in the cannabis industry/movement what they think about the topic.

To begin the Women of Cannabis series I interviewed Stacia Cosner, the Deputy Director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and friend of Women Grow:

How long have you been apart of the cannabis movement?

“In 2006, I was a freshman at the University of Maryland. Like many young people, I made the ill-fated decision to smoke marijuana in my dorm room. I was by myself, in my pajamas, when I heard a knock at the door. Knowing nothing about my rights, and never having experienced a police encounter before, I let them in and immediately turned over all of the contraband I had – a small pipe and less than 1 gram of marijuana.

The next several hours would change my life. They searched every inch of my dorm room, forced me to change my clothes in full view of several officers, while making a big scene as they marched me out in handcuffs as if I was a drug kingpin. At the police station, officers laughed at me as I cried, making fun of ‘the college girl who got caught smoking pot’, as I was put in 5 point shackles while I was fingerprinted and had my mug shot taken.

In the days following my arrest, my shock turned to outrage. Did I really deserve to be treated like this? Was this really the most pressing matter for the police in College Park that night? How much worse would this have been if I wasn’t a middle class white woman? How was my smoking marijuana by myself to help me fall asleep posing a threat to the rest of the community? Who was being harmed by my behavior?

I had been a supporter of drug policy reform before this incident, but afterwards, my involvement with the movement — specifically with Students for Sensible Drug Policy — skyrocketed. In SSDP, I found a community of people who shared in my passionate belief that the War on Drugs has failed and that alternative approaches are not only possible, but necessary. I then served two years as President of the UMD SSDP chapter and went on to serve two years as a student board member on SSDP’s national board of directors, started interning at the national SSDP headquarters, and later was hired as a full-time Outreach Director once I graduated in 2009, and I’ve been on staff ever since.”

How would you say women are generally portrayed within the cannabis culture?

“Typically, I’d say women historically have been portrayed as objects within the cannabis culture. Advertisements with scantily clad women are used to promote all sorts of products, but I guess it hits closer to home for me when the product in question is cannabis related because of my passion for reform.

It sometimes seems that the type of woman most valued in the majority of the cannabis culture is a sexy pot smoker. There are so many different types of women who use it and/or advocate for marijuana policy reform, and it’s disappointing not to see that reflected in typical cannabis culture. I will say that I’ve noticed a decrease in this kind of portrayal in recent years, but it’s certainly still around.”

Why do you think women have gotten the image they have within the cannabis culture?

“Because, unfortunately, this is the image of women most often seen in other industries. I don’t think there’s anything inherent to the cannabis movement or industry that causes this to be more egregious than in other parts of society.”

How can we fight this image?

“Making space for women in leadership positions, increasing awareness around this issue, elevating good examples of positive portrayals of women, and making a point to reach out to women to step into leadership positions.”

Why is diversity important within the cannabis industry?

“Diversity is important in any movement or industry that strives to be inclusive of different perspectives and lived experiences. And of course any social justice movement must be representative of the populations impacted by the bad policies in question.”

What do you think is the most important issue facing the cannabis movement right now?

“Keeping our eye on the prize as cannabis politics become increasingly more complicated. We must remain committed and unified in working toward our shared goal of ensuring no one is treated like a criminal for the responsible use of cannabis.”


About Author

John Knetemann currently attends South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where he is a chapter leader for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. John has had a passion for drug policy reform since he was a senior in high school, and hasn’t looked back since. Along with his work in SSDP, he is a part of the North American Executive Board for Students For Liberty. You can find John on Twitter.


  1. Got that right–I know women who are in their 80’s believe it and they have been toking for over 50 years…They vote, take care of great grandchildren, exercise their dogs and hey, they have no qualms in supporting “The Weed Thing”.

  2. It seems to me that a strong effort should be directed toward women over 65 since they are the ones voting against reform. Opponents are overwhelmingly concentrated in this age group, and of course women make up the lion’s share. Get a few of them to change their mind and legalization becomes a lot easier.

  3. Good work; i actually believe in legalization of all drugs,because the drug war is such a failure. I’ll settle for legalization of Marijuana for now, you’ve gotta start somewhere.

  4. I applaud your efforts after your unfortunate incident. I can’t believe a police officer wouldn’t use more discretion in that situation. The drug war is an absolute failure and much more needs to be done. KEEP up the good work.

  5. Lawrence Goodwin on

    Your passion and determination to repeal unjust laws are blessings, Stacia Cosner. I wish you the best for all of 2015 and beyond. Your smile itself is encouraging! :)

    Here in my draconian “marihuana”-hating state of New York, it was ONLY because of amazing ladies like you–women with the drive and courage to constantly get in the faces of lawmakers and insist on real change–that our so-called Compassionate Care Act was passed in 2014, re-legalizing the cultivation of cannabis plants in New York for medical purposes. If I may mention just a few of those ladies: State Senator Diane Savino; Margaret Decker, a registered nurse whose sister-in-law and niece were among the “marijuana refugees” in Colorado; Nancy Rivera, a four-time cancer survivor who sees right through the BS anti-marijuana actions of lawmakers; and Laura Nahmias, a highly talented journalist for Capital New York who reveals many important details about this story as it unfolds. You, Ms. Cosner, and all of them are simply beautiful Americans.

  6. Almost every guy on this site on

    But this is the weed blog! No GIRLS OR MINORITIES ALLOWED! Only us white 40-something libertarian men are allowed!

  7. Thanks for getting women more involved in the conversation, I’ve been a smoker for decades, and the blatant sexism in advertising and other aspects of the industry were frankly embarrassing at times. Like the T-shirts advertised at another marijuana site I visit- “Cunts for Blunts”. No, really.
    Looking forward to your other interviews.

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