GLENS FALLS — The “Mary Janes” are the liberators and leaders of the cannabis revolution. Long criticized and stereotyped, these women are headlining what is slated to soon become a billion-dollar industry.

Filmmaker Windy Borman, whose film, “Mary Janes: Women of Weed,” is destined for a Glens Falls screening on March 30 at the Charles R. Wood Theater, says they are “breaking the grass ceiling.”

Borman, who had never smoked marijuana when she set out to create her film, explores the movement to end marijuana prohibition through a series of interviews — from farms to labs to dispensaries. The film sheds light on the female researchers and entrepreneurs blazing a trail in today’s legal cannabis industry.

“I’ve always been intrigued by social issues, especially gender equality, social justice, environmental protection, education and empowerment,” Borman said. “I bring that social justice lens to cannabis. … Through interviews with scientists, doctors, lawyers, activists, growers and bakers, I learned cannabis is not only an industry, but also a movement of dedicated, pioneering women.”

Borman, who refers to these cannabis rebels as “Puffragettes,” said the moniker comes from the blending of puff and suffragettes, in homage to the women who fought for a woman’s right to vote.

Winner of several recent distinctions, “Women of Weed” not only looks at the nation’s cannabis entrepreneurs, but examines social justice issues such as incarceration of minorities, the drug war and Big Pharma that surrounds marijuana and hemp.

“It’s a different perspective. It is new and interesting and not like anything we have had here before,” said Emily Murphy, executive director of the Charles R. Wood Theater, about the “Women of Weed” screening. “Not everyone is aware of all the things related to this newest industry dominated by women.”

Next week’s Glens Falls screening of the film, which will be its first East Coast showing, stars singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and highlights local hemp-related entrepreneur Angel Isaac.

At the screening, Isaac will answer questions about the safe and legal use of hemp and hemp-related products like cannabidiol, better known as CDB oil, used for ailments like arthritis and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Our business has grown 1,000 percent, and we are now the fastest-growing business in upstate New York,” said Isaac on Friday, who was in the middle of moving her South Glens Falls business, Pretty Hot Mess, to a four-times-larger Glens Falls location on Warren Street to accommodate her rapid growth.

Isaac, a nurse practitioner, said that she thinks women are taking the lead in this industry partially because women are often told that their maladies are all in their heads and then prescribed toxic drugs.

“Women are saying, ‘We need help and quit prescribing happy pills, our illnesses are real,’’ she said, adding that a non-chemical option is so much better.

Other local women are leading hemp-related businesses, like Iris Rogers and Sarah Murphy of Old Homestead Hemp in Hebron, and Mary Jeanne Packer, owner of Battenkill Fibers in Greenwich, who blends hemp for New York City designers.

Interestingly, Borman, the daughter of a doctor and nurse who was told that all drugs, especially marijuana, are bad, said she never tried pot before making her film.

“I didn’t hang out with the people who had cannabis, and I admit I was originally judgmental about cannabis because I was turned off by the “stoner dude” images I saw,” she said. “Given all I’ve learned filming “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed,” I finally decided to try cannabis for the first time.”

The screening of “Women of Weed” marks a new path for the Wood Theater.

“This is a way for us to kick off more films like this that come from a different perspective,” said Emily Murphy. “We want to tackle current social issues. We have an obligation to make sure are audiences are served.”

“Women of Weed” screens at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls. Tickets are $14.

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Kathleen Phalen-Tomaselli covers Washington County government and other county news and events.


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