CALIFORNIA: I was driving down the 110 last weekend when I saw a billboard: KUSH EXPO. Then, in slightly smaller type, HOT KUSH GIRL CONTEST.
I tried to imagine the contenders: tattooed women in green string bikinis posing with suggestively large bongs, looking like they would be equally at home on the playa at Burning Man and in the pages of Maxim.
The words “kush girl” did not evoke mental images of women I know who are enthusiastic about marijuana — women who are likely to smoke slouched on their sofas at home, bra-less in the not-sexy-just-comfortable way, while watching Netflix Instant on a laptop. My interest was piqued, so I ordered tickets to the Expo as soon as I got home.
I live in Southern California, the spiritual stoneland of the American weed enthusiast. Medical marijuana has been legal here since 1996, and socially acceptable since long before that.
There is little risk or stigma associated with being a casual pot smoker if you’re not someone who is already likely to be targeted by the police (read: it’s cool if you’re white and relatively wealthy). While California does not have the country’s most liberal marijuana laws — Colorado and Washington states voted to decriminalize it in 2012 — we probably have the most developed weed culture; many Californians don’t just smoke marijuana but actively identify as a participant in the industry around it, as a peer of people who use it, or as an activist for its legalization.
And, as Wendy Chapkis, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern Maine, writes in a new academic article, “contemporary cannabis culture is at once delightfully libertine and deeply sexist.”