It’s no secret that cannabis and the Black community have a complicated history.
Historically, the social stigmas and legal parameters surrounding cannabis have led to so much anguish for Black people. And now that both these obstacles are starting to subside, Black people are finding themselves getting phased out of the weed industry.
A growing number of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have already established programs to fight against this whitewashing of the cannabis industry and prepare their students to reap the benefits of working in this new and growing economy.
A growing number of HBCUs are establishing programs to fight against the whitewashing of the cannabis industry and preparing their students to reap the benefits of working in this new and growing economy.
Predominately Black institutions like Florida A&M University, Southern University, Clark Atlanta University, Tuskegee University and North Carolina A&T State University are just a few of the HBCUs that have taken steps in recent years to open doors in the weed industry for their students.
In 2020, after extending its medical marijuana program, Southern University became the first HBCU to launch its own THC medical cannabis product called “AYO”.
“With the launch of both CBD and THC medical marijuana products, Southern continues to set precedents in innovation,” said Ray L. Belton, Southern University System president and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge at the time. “In addition to providing healthcare options for Louisiana residents, our valued partner, Ilera, is able to hire local talent. All of this impacts our state’s economy directly while expanding the Southern University brand.”
Southern now has one of the strongest medical marijuana programs in the southeast.
At Clark Atlanta, the school launched a program in 2019 that taught students about some of the intricacies of cannabis. The online course included education about the role of social and economic impacts on cannabis regulation, ways to educate the public about cannabis, and the governing bodies over the supply chain of cannabis. It was the first college to offer a program of that nature.
Florida A&M has had a medical marijuana program since 2017 but in 2020 they launched a program to educate underserved communities in Florida about the benefits of medical marijuana and gave grants to researchers studying the success of Black entrepreneurs in the medical marijuana industry.
Along with these programs, schools like Tuskegee, North Carolina A&T, and Delaware State have all launched Hemp research programs that focus on learning more about the soil and growing conditions needed to help Hemp plants thrive.
These are only a few of the examples of how HBCUs are actively involved in the legal cannabis industry.
As our society continues to shift notions about the use of cannabis, HBCUs will likely play a key role in allowing Black people to benefit from this fast-growing social and economic movement.