Why I Gave Up My 420 Icon Award

All too often women are not recognized for their efforts in the cannabis community. This issue has again reared its ugly head with the announcement of the "420 Icons" list of the "Top 100 Cannabis Influencers of All Time."

My name was on that list. I was flattered when I saw it and did a quick look at who else was on it. I recognized most of the names. What I didn't see were longtime activists like Elvy Musikka, Debby Goldsberry and Jodie Emery.

I posted the list on my Facebook page. Several women noted that there were only seven women on the list - just 7%. 

The 420 Icons was created by Chloe Villano, who runs the Cannabis Business Awards, and Bobby Black, who curates the World of Cannabis Museum. I used to work with Black at High Times; we're friends. Villano is a relatively new player on the scene. She founded CloverLeaf University for cannabis studies and then the CBAs, which she calls the CBA Globes.

I received a CBA Globes "MVP" award in 2019. I campaigned for that and was one of 10 MVPs who won the popular vote.

He read about the 420 Icons list a few days before 4/20. I didn't know it was open to nominations until April 19. I nomimated Lester Grinspoon, Keith Stroup and Elvy Musikka.

Aftert posting the list, I added the comment: "Nice list, but may ommisions like Elvy Musikka."

Black replied: "Yes, we were trying to do 420 people but it was just too daunting. LOL Sadly a lot of good names did get cut, but I think we did a pretty good job overall. Our apologies and respect to those you named and others we were unable to include."

Villano chimed in: "Too bad you didn't nominate them."

I replied: "I nominated Lester, Keith and Elvy - too late?"

No reply.

I received a lot of congratulations and some critiques of the list.

Ophelia Chong commented: "7% women on that list, right, we are about 7% of the population... this list was created with a smattering of true advocates." She rattled off names of women she thought should be on it.

Ellen Komp commented: "Yeah, I noticed but get tired of always having to point out how women are excluded. I think these lists are pointless... it even says Bob Marley & Sons, excluding his wife Rita and daughter Cedella. And I don't see a single female artist or musician besides Whoopi."

I woke up on April 21 and decided to not accept the 420 Icon designation, writing on the same thread: "I have to voice my disappointment that the 420 Icons list has only six woman among the 100. I’d give up my slot for any a number of deserved women."

There are actually eight women on the list: Dina Browner, Myrtle Clark (listed as one half of the Dagga Couple), Valerie Corral, Charlotte Figi, Whoopi Goldberg, MIla Jansen, Madeline Martinez and Mary Rathburn (a.k.a. Brownie Mary).

In a now deleted comment, Villano thanked me for surrrendering my slot for a women and agreed to such, but also chastised me, saying that I will never be considered for another CBA award because I was causing "drama."

I replied: "I give up my spot for Musikka. Chloe, several women brought his to my attention, Awards are always open to criticism. Don't have such thin skin." Musikka is one of two remaining federal medical marijuana patients.

Villano didn't delete this one: "Steve, you don't even know who I am or anything about me. It seem to be the criticism follows you everywhere with your little group of friends. We had no problems besides you." 

I wrote back: "My little group of friends? I've been in the cannabis community for 30+ years. I was hoping your wouldn't overreact to this."

Villano the sent me a direct message. Since it is not public, I will summarize her points: She will subtract me, but not add a women in my place because "nobody gets to to do that to me." She said they have plans for a Top 100 women's list.

I like Villano. I think she's done good things in the community. But she should be open to criticism and not lash out at her critics.


Check out list of 500+ Women Who Should Be Recognized for Their Achievements in Cannabis here.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of CelebStoner.com, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.