Legalization 101

Legalization 101: Stigma Sucks – Why is There Still Judgment Around Weed?

Episode 111

Show Notes

Weed Stigma Sucks

This is the third episode in our Legalization 101 series, where we’re digging into everything you need to know about “medical” versus “adult use” cannabis markets. Today, we hear from women who look to cannabis for its adult-use benefits – the ones that also improve your well-being. 

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Ellen Lee Scanlon (00:00):

This podcast discusses cannabis and is intended for audiences 21 and over.

Christine De La Rosa (00:06):

For the longest time, I didn’t try cannabis because I come from a Mexican Catholic household. And I said, “Mom, you told me when I was growing up, like don’t smoke marijuana because they’re going to think you’re a lazy Mexican.” I said, “So I’ve decided to go into the cannabis business.” I didn’t even finish this sentence and my mother said in Spanish… I’ll translate it for you. She was like, “Why are you always shaming the family?”

Ellen Lee Scanlon (00:34):

Welcome to How to Do the Pot, a podcast demystifying cannabis for women. I’m Ellen Scanlon. This is the third episode in our legalization 101 series, where we’re digging into everything you need to know about medical versus adult use cannabis markets. If you’re wondering what type of cannabis market your state has, be sure to check out our map on, and I’ll link to it in the show notes. Are you on the list for How to Do the Pot’s newsletter?

Ellen Lee Scanlon (01:05):

It comes out twice a month on Fridays and we’d love for you to subscribe. Visit for all the details. Last week, you heard stories from women whose lives were completely turned around when they started consuming cannabis to treat their chronic medical conditions. One of those women was Christine De La Rosa the CEO and co-founder of The People’s Ecosystem, who you just heard.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (01:31):

As Christine shared, before she started consuming cannabis to treat her lupus, she had to overcome the stigma surrounding it that she had internalized when she was growing up. I hear stories like this from a lot of women, and the result is that women often don’t seek cannabis as a medical treatment when it might be able to help them.

Christine De La Rosa (01:52):

What I would tell other people that come from deeply religious backgrounds, that come from deeply conservative areas is to really just talk honestly with your people, whether it’s your family or your friends, and explain to them why you’re using it. If you say, “I want to use it because I’m a recreational pot smoker,” you also tell them that. There’s nothing wrong with this. We’ve been told that there was something wrong.

Christine De La Rosa (02:16):

There was a set of propaganda that was put forth to say it’s wrong, but it’s actually not wrong. And I always say to people, I really don’t think there’s an adult use market. I think there really is a medical market that they’re calling adult use because I have very rarely met anybody that uses cannabis for nothing except to get high. They’re usually treating something.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (02:36):

In this episode, we’ll turn our attention to women who purchase their weed in the adult use cannabis market, sometimes known as recreational. I don’t really like the term recreational because I don’t think it’s very clear. Often when people hear it, they think just for fun. And yes, cannabis is fun, but it’s also often soothing stress, helping with pain, or just bringing a bit of joy to a long day. I feel better after I give my son a big hug or a cuddle with him while we’re reading.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (03:08):

It really lifts my mood, helps me to be present, and feel very grateful. That seems like pretty good medicine to me. I think many women look to cannabis for those types of benefits, the ones that improve your well-being. I also want to talk about the science. And for longtime listeners, this will be a refresher. All of our bodies have something called an endocannabinoid system. This system regulates a lot of important functions in your body, all with the goal of creating balance.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (03:41):

To explain it really clearly, I’m going to read you a quick excerpt from an article that was published in the medical journal Cerebrum in 2013. Stick with me. It helps explain why the system is so crucial to understand, and I’m quoting. “The endocannabinoid system is one of the most important physiologic systems involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body, in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (04:16):

With their complex actions in our immune system, nervous system, and virtually all of the body’s organs, the endocannabinoids are literally a bridge between body and mind.” Endocannabinoids are really important to our body’s well-being. And the science behind cannabis is growing, but it’s still limited because cannabis is illegal at the federal level. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is confusing because there are FDA approved drugs that contain cannabis.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (04:48):

And with that Schedule 1 designation, it actually is saying that there’s no medical benefit and a high likelihood of abuse. There are more credible studies that suggest that cannabis can improve all kinds of physical and mental conditions, whether they appear on state’s list of approved uses or not. So now that we’ve covered some of the science, let’s hear stories from the many women we’ve talked to who have found a greater sense of well-being and a deeper connection to their bodies with cannabis.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (05:20):

This is true for Ariana Newton, the Montana based business relations and operations executive of Besides treating her insomnia, cannabis has helped her get to know herself.

Ariana Newton (05:34):

What was really cool for me when I did start to consume and realize that it was helping me along this like healing journey of personal growth, but also just like physically too as a woman, being able to kind of combat some of those aches and pains that you just go through.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (05:54):

For many women, cannabis is especially helpful for stress. And since the pandemic, women are experiencing stress at higher rates than ever. Dr. June Chin, an integrative cannabis physician based in New York, says she sees it in her patients all the time.

Dr. June Chin (06:11):

I have a lot of patients that get the racing heart feeling. They start thinking about something. A lot of patients have PTSD from COVID. Whatever it is, something gets triggered, patients are getting panic attacks and they’re using cannabis, fast acting cannabis, so usually in an inhaled form. They might use a spray or a fast dissolving mint tablet to help calm their system quickly.

Dr. June Chin (06:36):

A lot of patient is we’re already on Xanax and they’ll use it for those panic attacks to need to calm down, but I tell them to try and switch to a cannabis and help them wean off of Xanax.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (06:46):

As we heard in the last episode, many women have found cannabis to be an effective alternative to prescription meds. Dr. Chin recommends it to her patients as a way to manage stress, which also helps them manage their relationships.

Dr. June Chin (07:00):

As for me as a mother and as a physician, it comes back to intent and how you use cannabis as medicine. If I’m nauseated, or if I’m in pain and I have a two year old who’s going crazy and making me so irritable that I’m yelling at the kids, I’m yelling at my partner, and if taking a puff, if micro dosing relaxes me and makes me nicer and makes me more present, then sure, I’d use it. And I tell my patients the same thing.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (07:27):

Besides stress and anxiety, there’s another chronic mental health condition where cannabis is showing a lot of promise. Here is Christine De La Rosa again.

Christine De La Rosa (07:37):

I’ll tell you this really interesting story. We’re at the dispensary and there were these young kids, like 21, 22, and they would come in. everybody in Oakland calls me Miss Chris. They’d be like, “Miss Chris, Miss Chris, Miss Chris, what you got that has the highest THC? I want to get totally effed up.” And I’d be like okay.

Christine De La Rosa (07:54):

I said, “Well, here’s a dab and it has 78% THC. This is definitely going to do what you need it to do in terms of you just want to get effed up, right?” I said, “But I want you to come back and talk to me. I want you to understand why you feel you need to be that high.”

Ellen Lee Scanlon (08:11):

The kids Christine is describing may seem hard to relate to. But when they came back, Christine found out there was a lot more to the story. These kids were self-medicating for depression and PTSD.

Christine De La Rosa (08:24):

Invariably, they would come back and tell me the story and it was different things. Someone was like, “I lost my dad when I was eight. My best friend got shot in front of me. Something terrible happened to me in my household.” It was always there was a reason. That’s when the advocacy for me really kicked in, that once you could destigmatize it for black and brown people and say, “You’re not a drug dealer. You’re not a lazy Mexican. You’re actually a healer.”

Ellen Lee Scanlon (08:52):

Kia Baker, the host of the Female Veterans Podcast, believes the cannabis can be a life saving intervention for PTSD. She served in the military herself and now helps other women veterans who are struggling.

Kia Baker (09:05):

They say there’s 22 a day that commit suicide, veterans, but we know that there’s more. It’s a frightening and horrifying trend really. If you come to me and you said to me, “Hey, listen, I am thinking about dying. I heard that smoking this joint could take away the pain. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m going to try it.” I would say, “Smoke the joint.” And that’s essentially what I do with my female veterans.

Kia Baker (09:39):

I say, “Hey, listen, here’s an expert. You don’t have to take my word for it. I’m going to just present you an option, and you can do some independent study on your own and decide. Because if you’re in pain and you’re thinking that there’s nothing to help you and there’s no other way, then try this.”

Ellen Lee Scanlon (09:57):

Stories like these, make it pretty clear that cannabis can improve the lives of adult consumers in all kinds of important ways. But the adult use market also has its complications. In episode 106, we heard from Kelsey Ledezma about the ways cannabis helps her manage the chronic pain she deals with every day from a chemotherapy related spinal cord injury. And something she said about the adult use market really struck me.

Kelsey Ledezma (10:25):

Making cannabis as legal as it is has definitely felt like I’ve been forgotten about with like what I need from it. And I think that’s important.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (10:35):

Since adult use cannabis became legal in her home state of California, Kelsey has seen big changes.

Kelsey Ledezma (10:43):

I would love personally to see more representation of disabled people in shops. I would love to be able to go into a shop and talk to somebody one-on-one about what I experienced and what they’ve experienced with what’s there. And I have never seen that. I have never, ever seen that. It pains me to say that like if it came back around to do it again, would I vote for recreational cannabis?

Kelsey Ledezma (11:18):

I wouldn’t because it’s taken things from me, because I was pushed to the side and recreation came through and it’s the money maker.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (11:31):

I hope that learning about the many adult uses of cannabis has been helpful. And if you’re taking to heart what you’ve heard, please consider Kelsey’s story as well. Keep it in mind as votes come up in your state, as you pay attention to lawmakers, and as the cannabis market evolves where you live. Because while so many of us are so grateful for the accessibility and adult use state brings, let’s also try to make it a market where everyone feels welcome.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (12:01):

If you’ve been dealing with any complicated emotions about consuming cannabis, I hope this episode has cleared the path for you to find your own relationship with the plant. And be sure to stay tuned for next week when we’ll hear stories about how weed can be just plain fun. For lots more information and past episodes, visit And that’s also where you can sign up for our newsletter, which comes out every other Friday.

Ellen Lee Scanlon (12:37):

And if you like How to Do the Pot, please read and review us on Apple Podcasts. It helps more people find the show. Thanks to Madi Fair, our brand manager, Nick Patri, our producer, and our writer, Anna Williams. I’m Ellen Scanlon and we’ll be back soon with more of How to Do the Pot.



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