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  • Olivia Castro

The Past, Present and Future of Marijuana in the South: A Black & Student Perspective


Although the South in the United States has traditionally been more conservative, cannabis has always had a deep rooted history there. From the shameful era of slavery, to the medical and recreational programs that are thriving in there today. This movement in the South has been largely due to the Black and student community that have pushed for freeing the plant!


At West Virginia Marijuana Card, our job is not only to be your go-to marijuana card provider but also to keep you in the know of all things marijuana in the state. This goes for the history of cannabis as well as where it is going in the future.


In today’s article, we will be reviewing the ugly history of the South, the medical and recreational marijuana programs there and also how the Black and student communities have worked to get the marijuana industry to where it is today and beyond.


The History of the South

The American South consists of 16 states and the District of Columbia. Although West Virginia separated itself from Virginia to join the north during the Civil War, it is still considered to be a part of the South.


This part of the country's history is an ugly one. The South has a history of kidnapping, slavery, tearing families apart, brutal abuse on every level and much, much more.


In America, we are taught that enslaved people were forced to work on cotton, tobacco and sugar farms. This overlooks the history of hemp that enslaved people were at the forefront of. This hemp topic is almost always left out because the history of slavery in the South as well as controversial plants, like hemp and marijuana, are part of history the South wants to forget.


These systemic issues didn’t just go away once the Civil War ended. It seeped into segregation and the Jim Crow era which resulted in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.


The civil rights movement fought for equality and equity but it also is a fight the many are still taking up to this day. Social, political, and economic restrictions of rights and exploitation still run deep in this country for people of color, especially for Black people. So when we see Black people leading the charge in the marijuana industry it deserves to be celebrated!


Today

Although the South has a long history of hemp growing and cultivation, these states have been among the last states to legalize medical marijuana programs and decriminalize marijuana.


West Virginia joined the club a little late. In 2017, Gov. Jim Justice signed Senate Bill 386 which made West Virginia the 29th state in the U.S. to pass a legal medical marijuana program. Today, the registry is open for you to sign up for your medical marijuana card and access dispensaries once they’re open this coming summer!


There are now two places in the South that have legalized recreational use: Virginia and Washington D.C.. These two states also have reciprocity with each other too!


The Future is in the Hands of the Youth

Students are also taking the lead in the industry too!


Louisiana State University and Alabama State University are both supporting cannabis programs. LSU with a Therapeutic Cannabis Program and ASU with medicinal cannabis research! Wellcanna Group and the Cannabis Group South LLC are both partnering with these two universities.


In fact, the lead cannabis cultivator of the Wellcanna Group in Louisiana is Ra’mon Richardson who is a Black gentleman. It is very powerful for those in the therapeutic cannabis program, and in the industry as a whole, to see a Black man working in cannabis cultivation on the same soil that Black people were enslaved and forced to cultivate hemp.


The Cannabis South Group LLC in Alabama is one of the first black-owned hemp companies in the state! This company is working with ASU which is an HBCU (historically black college or university). Their goal is to work together in order to create an infrastructure for the future of those entering into the marijuana space including retailers, cultivators, and entrepreneurs.


Final Thoughts

Strides like these are important to have in the South.


First, they work to combat the stigma that surrounds marijuana use, which is especially strong in the South. Ending the stigma and myths that surround marijuana use will help those with medical conditions feel more comfortable and empowered to get the relief that they deserve.


Next, Black students have seen marijuana destroy their communities first hand. Not because it is addictive or bad for you but because of marijuana prohibition and the scheduling of marijuana as a Schedule I Drug.


Many Black students have seen in the past that just touching marijuana can land you in jail and change your life forever. This creates a fear relating to anything marijuana.White students, on the other hand, are awarded the privilege of feeling free to study marijuana because they haven’t been in communities that have been devastated by marijuana prohibition.


Black students can now be awarded this same luxury when it comes to university programming at these two universities!


It is powerful for these students to see people who look like them at the forefront of the marijuana industry in the South. This can help not only create equity within the marijuana industry but also open the door to opportunities for Black students that enslaved ancestors could have only dreamt of.



Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.


West Virginia Marijuana Card’s mission is to help everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.


If you have any questions, call us at 877-303-8424, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!


Check out West Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in West Virginia.