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Educating Yourself: Inclusivity, Gender Diversity, and the Cannabis Community

Diversity And Inclusion. Business Employment Leadership

Pride Month is a time to celebrate diversity, equality, and the ongoing fight for civil rights within the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a powerful reminder of the progress made and the work that still needs to be done so that everyone feels accepted and valued. The cannabis industry, with its own history of stigmatization, naturally aligns with the values of Pride – embracing inclusivity and acceptance.

By supporting Pride, the cannabis community demonstrates its commitment to fostering an environment that makes everyone feel safe, welcomed, and celebrated. To help you create a more inclusive environment, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about gender diversity.

Understanding Sex vs. Gender

Perhaps one of the biggest mix-ups at the root of the confusion and hate towards gender-diverse people is the difference between sex and gender.

Let’s break it down:

  • Sex: This refers to the biological differences between males and females, like chromosomes and reproductive organs.
  • Intersex: Some people have variations in their sex characteristics that don’t fit typical definitions of male or female. About 1.7% of the population is intersex (which is more common than you might think).
  • Gender: Unlike sex, gender is a social concept that varies across cultures. It’s about how people identify and express themselves, which can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Biological Factors of Anatomical Sex

Sex is decided by biological factors that you are born with. Let’s crack open our biology textbook and get into what factors determine anatomical sex:


Chromosomes are the genetic blueprints that typically determine our biological sex. Most people have either XX chromosomes, which usually result in female characteristics, or XY chromosomes, which typically result in male characteristics. However, there are variations like XXY, XYY, or XO, which contribute to a broader spectrum of sex characteristics. These variations show that biological sex isn’t always strictly binary.


Hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone play significant roles in the development of secondary sex characteristics. For instance, testosterone influences traits like muscle mass and body hair, while estrogen affects breast development and the menstrual cycle.

The levels and effects of these hormones can vary widely among individuals, leading to a diverse range of physical characteristics.

These biological factors influence how we perceive sex and gender, but they are just part of the story. Recognizing the diversity in these factors is essential, as it helps us understand and appreciate the wide spectrum of human experiences.

Embracing this diversity is crucial for fostering an inclusive and supportive community.

Gender Norms, Identity, & Expression

While sex is determined by biology, gender norms are created by society. These are the societal expectations about how people should behave based on their perceived gender. Think of things like “boys should like blue” or “girls should like pink.” These norms can be pretty limiting and don’t always reflect everyone’s experiences or preferences.

Your gender identity is decided by YOU. This is about how you internally feel and understand your own gender. It’s your internal sense of being male, female, both, neither, or somewhere in between. Your gender identity is something only YOU can define, no matter what anyone says about your birth certificate.

Your gender expression is how you show your gender to the world through things like clothing, hairstyle, and behavior. It might match traditional norms, or it might not, and that’s totally okay. It’s all about what feels right for you and how you want to express yourself.

The Gender Binary vs. The Gender Spectrum

The traditional view of gender sees it as a binary—just male or female. This can be pretty limiting and doesn’t capture the full range of human experiences. Instead, picture gender as a spectrum. People can identify as male, female, both, neither, or anywhere in between.

Another important consideration is that gender identity isn’t always fixed. Some people may find their gender identity shifts over time, and that’s perfectly natural. Think about what you wore as a 7th grader – would you still wear that today? Recognizing the fluidity of gender helps us understand that there are many ways to experience and express it.

Sexual & Gender Minorities vs. Heterosexual Cannabis Use

According to a 2015 national study, cannabis use is significantly higher among LGBTQ+ individuals compared to cis-heterosexual individuals. About 30.7% of sexual and gender minorities reported using cannabis, whereas only 12.9% of cis-heterosexual people did. This shows that sexual and gender minorities are more than twice as likely to use cannabis.

So, why is this the case? There are a few reasons. For one, LGBTQ+ individuals often face higher levels of stress and societal pressures. Discrimination, stigma, and the challenges of coming out can contribute to increased anxiety and depression. Many find that cannabis helps them cope with these stresses.

Additionally, the LGBTQ+ community has a long history of using cannabis as part of social and cultural practices, fostering a sense of connection and relaxation.

cannabis leaf vector isolated on rainbow flag background

Ways Your Cannabis Business Can Be More Gender Inclusive

As the LGBTQ+ community becomes more visible in the cannabis space, it’s crucial to evaluate your business to ensure it’s genuinely welcoming to everyone. Here are some practical tips to get you started:

  1. Use Pronoun Buttons: Have staff wear pronoun buttons so everyone knows how to address each other correctly. It’s a simple way to show respect for everyone’s identity.
  2. Enforce Non-Discrimination Policies: Make sure you have clear, enforced policies that protect against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Everyone should feel safe and welcome in your space.
  3. Create Gender-Neutral Restrooms: Providing gender-neutral restrooms ensures that everyone has a comfortable place to go. It’s a small change that can make a big difference.
  4. Include Pronouns in Email Signatures & Adopt Inclusive Dress Codes: Encourage staff to add their pronouns to email signatures. Also, adopt dress codes that don’t enforce gender norms, allowing everyone to dress in a way that feels right for them.

Making your cannabis business inclusive and welcoming isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s essential for creating a community where everyone feels valued. By understanding sex, gender, and identity, challenging traditional norms, and implementing practical inclusive practices, we can create supportive and accepting spaces for all.


As we celebrate Pride Month, let’s commit to these values and continue working together to build a more inclusive future for everyone in the cannabis community!