Cheri Sicard, author of ‘Mary Jane’ A Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women, with Rachael Carlevale

Leading Ladies of Ladybud: Classin' up the Joint
Cosmic Sisters of Cannabis
by Rachael Carlevale

“We’re all in this together, and now is a powerful time for fearless women to rise up and voice their support for the cannabis plant.” - Rachael Carlevale

At the back of the Point art gallery, Ladybud Magazine editor Diane Fornbacher added final touches to items that would be auctioned later in the evening as smiling volunteers checked in guests for Classin’ Up the Joint, the magazine’s second anniversary and re-launch event during the 4/20 Cannabis Cup weekend in Denver. Upstairs, at the entrance to the VIP smoking lounge, an attendant handed out sparkly goodie bags filled with all things cannabis: cannabis sex lube, hemp seed loofahs, activist stickers and eco-wax wicks. Inside the lounge, people were eager to share their best bud.

Downstairs, the gallery filled with female activists, all aligned to end the war on drugs and empower women and their families to drive the cannabis movement forward. Cheri Sicard, author of Mary Jane: The Complete Marijuana Handbook for Women, signed copies of her green and pink books and talked passionately about helping people who have been incarcerated for cannabis attain freedom. Madeline Martinez, sole proprietress of the Portland, Oregon-based World Famous Cannabis Cafe and founding organizer and board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Women’s Alliance, talked about the nonpartisan coalition’s mission of supporting responsible adult cannabis consumption with a focus on parents and families.

Meg Sanders, a mother of two and the CEO of MiNDFUL, which operates five dispensaries in northern Colorado, was publicly open about being a parent in the cannabis industry, and activist Ashley Weber, a medical cannabis patient, mom, caregiver, host of 95.5 FM Green Light Radio's "Patient Hour" and chapter leader of Parents 4 Pot Colorado (P4P CO), explained how P4P CO is working to end the social stigma surrounding adults who use cannabis responsibly and support parents’ choices to use medical cannabis to treat their children's illnesses.

Many mothers fear speaking out about cannabis because of the taboo and the “stoner” reputation that surrounds it. Child Protection Services has threatened to take away children from female cannabis cultivators and activists—including Fornbacher, who moved her family from Pennsylvania to Colorado to be part of the cannabis movement. With Ladybud, Fornbacher is shedding light on cannabis policy reform, activism and women’s health, radically changing the cannabis culture and reclaiming women as the leaders of plant medicine.

Women’s role as “guardians of herbal knowledge” dates to ancient times, but female herbalists began to be burned at the stake as “witches” in medieval times. Today, women are still criticized for supporting cannabis plant medicine, and cannabis remains a male-dominated industry.

That’s what led Christie Lunsford to became a founding member of WomenGROW, a professional network that supports female leaders in all segments of the cannabis industry. Lunsford, who began cultivating cannabis when she was pregnant with her first son, was the marketing director for Dixie Elixers and formulated a line of cannabis-infused topicals, Wildwood Apothecary, which will launch this summer. “I don’t want to see anyone go to prison or be incarcerated for a plant,” she said.

For Fornbacher, it’s about giving back to the people who helped make cannabis entrepreneurship possible. “A lot of us have lost people,” she said, wiping away tears. “We met patients at the last stages of their lives who wanted to make a difference, even if they would never live to see it.” Fornbacher encourages cannabis entrepreneurs to not just make a product but to make a difference.

You, too, can get connected with the movement by attending networking events like the Mother’s High Tea on Thursday, May 14, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the History Colorado Center. Kids are welcome to attend the non-consumption, family-friendly event celebrating the accomplishments of women on the forefront of cannabis reform and business. Susan Squibb started holding the High Tea in 2011 in honor of her mother, who died of cancer.

As the night came to a close, Fornbacher gave me a squeeze and thanked me for driving seven hours from Durango, Colorado, for the party. I left feeling inspired, motivated and supported. We’re all in this together, and now is a powerful time for fearless women to rise up and voice their support for the cannabis plant.

From left to right: Sara Conrad, Cannabis Activists, Christie Lunsford, Cannabis Entrepreneur and Susan Squibb, Founder of the Mother’s High Tea women’s cannabis event.
Madeline Martinez, Founding Organizer of NORML Women’s Alliance with Husband Rafael Martinez. Photo courtesy of Christie Lunsford.
Meg Sanders, CEO of MiNDFUL poses with Diane Fornbacher, Founder of Ladybud. Photo courtesy of Christie Lunsford.

Ashley Weber, Chapter Leader of Parents 4 Pot CO with Keith Stroup, Founder of NORML. Photo courtesy of Ashley Weber.


This story was made possible through the Cosmic Sister Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance and Cosmic Sisters of Cannabis educational advocacy project/s. Your
 SUPPORT  by way of our fiscal sponsorship with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) allows us to do this work in the world—thank you very much(!) Your donation to MAPS for Cosmic Sister is tax-deductible in the U.S. as allowed by law.

May 2015