The Pink Tax Is Affecting Women-Focused Industries—Including Cannabis

CBD-infused beauty and health products marketed to female consumers are often expensive

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We can create an equal and healthy market that benefits everyone. Getty Images
Headshot of Pam Pho

When I joined the cannabis industry, I was most excited to join a company that understands the science behind the plant and values transparency to a degree that I have yet to experience after working at large corporations in Silicon Valley.

Working in cannabis is amazing. I haven’t found the rampant sexism I’m used to in the “brogrammer” culture. I feel like a valued member of a real team. Cannabis truly thrives on diversity, and everyone in the industry is united behind similarly shared goals: safe, quality cannabis on the shelves with a public educated as to what they’re ingesting and why. I’m also, for the first time, disappointed in cannabis.

Beauty products are one of my favorite things. Friends and family are aware of my obsession and shower me with gift cards for chain stores like Sephora and Ulta. I subscribe to four box subscriptions that send trial size products to my home. If I like a product, I’ll dust off a gift card and go purchase. I’m the ideal consumer. When it comes to women’s beauty products, team-minded culture seems to be forgotten, though.

When it comes to women’s beauty products, team-minded culture seems to be forgotten.

Reading that Sephora and Ulta are now carrying CBD-infused products had me racing to the store. What I found was premium priced lotions, creams and serums. Walking a mile through the vast aisles to the gentleman’s side of the store was illuminating and frustrating. Serums, lotions and creams with the same ingredients were packaged differently. They were also 30% cheaper for larger yields on average.

This led me to do some online shopping where I perused many dispensary menus, looking for products that contain THC as well as CBD as I personally enjoy the use of both cannabinoids. I decided to look for specific products that both men and women use. I started with the lips. CBD lip balm for men came in a five-pack box for around $15 while one tube of balm for women started at $22. That’s a $19 difference per tube.

Pain relief topicals for everyone sat in the median range between men’s and women’s products at an average of $30. The same ingredients in a smaller tube labeled for PMS relief, however, rang in at an average of $65. Beard serums and hair serums with the same ingredients boasted an average of $24 difference in product pricing.

I then researched California brands and the dispensaries in my area. San Jose stores had the same products and those products were priced the same on the shelves, which leads me to assume manufacturers are setting the price on these items.

The pink tax is nothing new to savvy women, as it is rampant across other industries, but cannabis is just beginning to see its power. We have a unique chance to stop the cycle of preying on women with packaging and pricing if this industry stands together on this issue. The manufacturers making affordable, high-quality products priced equally for men and women will rise to the top as known industry allies and game-changers. We can create an equal and healthy market that benefits everyone.

@NerdyPam Pam Pho is the marketing manager at Confident Cannabis.