GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Recreational pot has been legal in Michigan for about three years now, and the dispensaries that have since popped up in West Michigan say that the kind of people using marijuana for its health benefits is changing.
They are seeing more and more health-conscious women using their products, flying in the face of long-held stereotypes about who uses marijuana.
There has been a lot more focus in recent years on the potential health benefits of using THC, CBD, or any number of marijuana-derived products. First of all, more people are using them, and they say the number of women who are either using cannabis products or starting cannabis companies continues to go up.
“Women have this kind of club of like, 'Oh, I drank so much wine last night, a couple bottles or a couple glasses with my friends,'” says Laurie Gregory, chief brand and product officer at Skymint, which owns dispensaries across Michigan. "But for a woman to say, 'Wow, I took an edible or I smoked a joint,' there has been this taboo around that."
“We have definitely seen an intake of women consumers really across all age groups, which is exciting,” says Gregory.
In fact, one of their dispensaries in the last year saw a 45% increase in the number of women buying cannabis products.
To make the world of cannabis more accessible, Skymint has created an aesthetically-welcoming atmosphere inside their stores. "It doesn't feel like this kind of dark, dirty, I'm doing something bad,” says Gregory. "It feels really good. It makes people feel just happy. It's allowed more women to feel good in this space. And then they're finding just amazing benefits."
there are quite a few potential health benefits beyond just getting high, says cannabis expert Dr. Mary Clifton, MD
“I think women are turning to cannabis for the same reasons as men,” says Dr. Clifton. "The vast majority of people that are using cannabis or CBD, or any of the other minor cannabinoids, for that matter, are using them to manage conditions like difficulty sleeping or some anxiety, needing to be able to unwind, or pain, sometimes painful syndromes."
In fact, she says, cannabis products can even help with pain in one specific area of women's bodies. “The receptors that respond to CBD and THC and other cannabinoids are concentrated very heavily in the uterus. So it does appear that cannabinoid formulations may be particularly supportive for maintaining uterine health for restoring balance and decreasing pain and helping to control inflammation."
However, women aren’t just using more marijuana, they’re also getting more involved in the business side of things.
“I really wanted to look at this as an avenue for me to help people heal with the highest quality product that I could put up I could possibly ever make,” says Amanda Fata, president and founder of NuVita. Fata, who lives in the Lansing area, founded NuVita in November of 2019.
“With it being such a male-dominated industry, I just really wanted to change the tides and shake things up with a female-owned company,” says Fata. "We manufacture everything in-house here at our facility in Michigan. We use certified organic hemp. We have a super close relationship with our farm, which also has a co-op environment which is really really cool."
Because there is so much misinformation out there about marijuana and CBD, Fata’s company focuses heavily on educating customers. “The most common question I get is, does it make you happy? Does it get you high? Am I gonna fall asleep when I'm you know, trying mom during the day and wear all these hats? No, it doesn't. CBD is non psychoactive, unlike the cousin THC."
Whether we’re talking about CBD or THC, Dr. Clifton says using products derived from cannabis is always going to be less damaging to your body than, say, drinking alcohol.
“Cannabis, marijuana products, are certainly going to be superior to alcohol in terms of supporting relaxation and helping people to have a positive social experience without causing as much damage to the body,” says Dr. Clifton. "In fact, people who use cannabis over their lifetimes have been found to maintain a lower body weight as they age, staying closer to their high school bodyweight, which is a lot healthier than gaining weight over time."
Fata says it’s important to her that she uses her voice and business to help women break free from the taboo of using cannabis products.
“I know as a mom, that there are times when life is crazy, and I think this is kind of a thing that women don't really want to put out there because they're embarrassed that they can't meet the societal standard of like what a mom should do," she says. "And I think we need to be real, because sugarcoating things makes people's mental health go in the dumpster. And with me being a woman in the cannabis space, I feel like I have kind of helped encourage other people that were closet cannabis users to kind of just be more comfortable with it."
NuVita donates a portion of their proceeds each month to organizations and charities that support survivors of human trafficking.
We continued our conversation with Dr. Mary Clifton on the FOX 17 Facebook page, you can find it under live videos. If you have more questions for her feel to email her on her website.