Now that we’re in Black History Month, there’s a little aphorism which keeps popping into my head. It may seem like a silly rhyme, but it rings loud and true:
“You need to know about cannabis’s racist history if you want to know about THC and CBD.”
I have been teaching and presenting a lot lately, and no matter what the specific cannabis topic is, I continually find myself unable to discuss cannabis without discussing the history. And we can't discuss the history without discussing prohibition, systemic racism, and the impact this had on minority populations.
Due to the horrific demonization of cannabis and the people who love and use it, “cannabis crimes” were - and still are - an excuse to target and arrest marginalized communities, and stuff them into prison cells.
What many people don’t know is that hemp and cannabis products were, at one time, staples in America's economy. Unfortunately, despite opposition from the mainstream medical establishment, the US government made cannabis illegal specifically to target and attack anti-war activists and the BIPOC community, while simultaneously being an excuse to throw people in prison.
Though we ended “traditional slavery” in America, we created another form of slavery in the prison inudstrial complex and our for-profit prison system. Due to the horrific demonization of cannabis and the people who love and use it, “cannabis crimes” were - and still are - an excuse to target and arrest marginalized communities, and stuff them into prison cells.
As a cannabis advocate, I feel I must continue to speak out against the injustice that so many marginalized populations have experienced for decades. It pains me, as it should all of us, to know how a healing and sacred herb was used to subjugate and incarcerate so many innocent people.
Primary image courtesy of Cannaclusive