In 2018, Oklahoma voted to approve the medicinal use of cannabis. The state continues to have one of the country’s most accessible medical marijuana programs and has seen a surge in dispensaries and growing operations.
An estimated 10% of residents have a medical marijuana card. (However, a vote to legalize recreational cannabis in Oklahoma was defeated in March 2023.)
Still, many people have questions about how medical cannabis works. What conditions can it help with? How do you take it? Are there legal ramifications attached to possessing it? Then there is the lingering stigma of using cannabis.
One demographic that raises their hand most is the so-called “cannabis-curious” crowd, which is made up mostly of women of all ages and backgrounds.
One organization in the Sooner State—Women + Weed—is helping women find answers to their most pressing questions. They host free events around the state, focusing on education and networking with top medical-cannabis experts.
“Our mission is to break the stigma and mystery surrounding cannabis and plant medicine,” says Women + Weed by founder and CEO Jeana Acosta. “We needed an organization like ours to help women. I know this from experience since I am also a cannabis user. And as a business professional, I felt I could combine my experience with my personal story.”
Acosta’s story with medical cannabis began in 2007 when she was diagnosed with PTSD from severe childhood trauma. “There are no pharmaceuticals on the market to treat PTSD, and my psychiatrist would give me several prescription cocktails a month trying to make something work,” says Acosta. “It made me feel worse mentally, so I stopped taking all the medication.”
She began searching for a solution and found a peer-reviewed study on how cannabis helped people with PTSD. She then started researching the different types of cannabis and where to get them.
“I set off to Colorado and often traveled there to get cannabis products for myself and others,” says Acosta. “Since I started using cannabis for my PTSD, I have had a better quality of life. I have also been able to give back to my community in many ways.”
“One of the things that was very important to me was for women to see themselves in other women, make connections, and build friendships. We must have community and connections to build us up and empower us to build up others.”Jeana Acosta, Founder & CEO, Women + Weed
Then an epiphany occurred in 2016.
“I attended Women Grow in Denver. There were around 500 women in the same room, all wanting to break the stigma surrounding cannabis, and most were in the industry,” says Acosta. “I heard Melissa Etheridge speak about her use of cannabis battling breast cancer. The woman who opened the first medical cannabis dispensary spoke about how she did it through legislation. It was the first time I had smoked cannabis in a public place. It was the first time for many of us, and it was such a liberating experience to smoke cannabis openly—a plant that has saved and improved my life and so many others.”
“It was the first time I had smoked cannabis in a public place… it was such a liberating experience to smoke cannabis openly—a plant that has saved and improved my life and so many others.”Jeana Acosta, Founder & CEO, Women + Weed
After returning home to Tulsa, Acosta wanted to share that experience with her community. Women + Weed hosted their first event—HERstory—in July 2019.
“One of the things that was very important to me was for women to see themselves in other women, make connections, and build friendships,” says Acosta. “We must have community and connections to build us up and empower us to build up others.”
Soon, Women + Weed hosted monthly events in Tulsa (where Acosta lives) and once a month in Oklahoma City, with around 250 people attending each event. When the pandemic struck, Women + Women hosted their events online.
In December 2021, as the country opened back up, Women + Weed hosted its annual Kushmas Event. The events continued in 2022 when they partnered with Oklahoma Harm Reduction Alliance in a Cannabis is Harm Reduction Campaign.
In 2023, the first Cannabis + Motherhood series was held where Pepper Hernandez spoke about cannabis use and motherhood. Other speakers have included Regina Nelson, founder of ECS Therapy, which offers one of three cannabis education courses for healthcare providers, and medical cannabis pharmacist Simi Burn.
Acosta’s healthcare marketing and community advocacy background has helped shape the organization. She served on a committee for the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma and Dress For Success Tulsa’s executive board of directors.
She also served as the Chapter Chair for Bixby, Oklahoma, and Committee for Turn Tulsa Pink. Acosta was a mentor for Women in Recovery, a nonprofit that helps women facing incarceration to receive an alternative treatment program.
Women + Weed supports all women, those who identify as women, and the queer community. The organization also partners with Leidy Torres of FIKA Cultivation for a Spanish-speaking initiative, helping those who speak Spanish access medical cannabis, doctor recommendations, and cannabis education in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Knowledge is power, and the more women Women + Weed can reach, the more they can help. “I’ve seen the medicinal and healing potential of cannabis and other plant medicine for so many people,” says medical cannabis pharmacist Simi Burn.
“Compared to many pharmaceutical options in my career, the safety and effectiveness of cannabis are life changers for many people. But there isn’t enough education and support. It’s wonderful that Women + Weed are helping to change that.”
“Since I started using cannabis for my PTSD, I have had a better quality of life. I have also been able to give back to my community in many ways.”Jeana Acosta, Founder & CEO, Women + Weed