Why Female Pop Stars Flaunt Their Love of Pot

By Valerie Tejeda 12/12/12

Celebrating marijuana is a smart thing for the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Lana Del Rey to do, observers say.

Rihanna wears her heart on her shirt.
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Glorifying marijuana—with its new, legal-in-some-places status as not too edgy, but just edgy enough—seems to be a smart PR move for pop stars right now. At a recent concert in Berlin, Rihanna sported a mesh tank top with a jumbo marijuana leaf across her chest; her love for mary jane is of course no secret. Then there's Lady Gaga, who smokes pot on stage, and donned a “Princess High, the Cannabis Queen,” costume for Halloween. And Lana Del Rey passes around a joint in her video, Born to Die. What should we draw from all this? “When you look at what went down in Colorado, the dramatic rise in the public’s support of marijuana-law reform is being driven by a large part by an increase in support among women,” says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “Are there parallels between women being open and honest about cannabis use at the polls on a grass-roots level and some of the most visible women in music today being open and honest about their use in the news? Absolutely.” There's been little-to-no outcry. “During the Reagan era, this sort of stuff would get you banned from radio,” says Will Hermes, a senior critic for Rolling Stone. “Now marijuana is about as normalized as beer or cocktails, but still enough of an issue politically that it feels like uncharted territory for these women to explore. Being a pop star, transgression is good for business," he continues. "And at this particular moment in American culture, saying you smoke weed is a pretty safe way to transgress.” Of course, image isn't everything; money also matters: “If marijuana gets legalized to the point where it can actually be marketed,” says Hermes, “then these ladies are really in a good position be on the front line of endorsement deals.”

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.