THIS PLANT ENDS RACISM: Why the CBD & Cannabis Industries are Catalysts for Positive Social Change through Racial Justice
It probably all started with music.
Black and white jazz musicians smoking muggles and jamming together back in the 1920s and 30s were among the first to start breaking down racial barriers. It's also fairly well-documented that white racists reacted to that by propagandizing the lies of Reefer Madness, outlawing hemp and cannabis, and starting a War on Drugs that specifically targeted anti-war activists and people of color.
A few choice quotes from Henry Anslinger, the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (precursor to the DEA), point to the blatantly racist origins of hemp and cannabis prohibition:
- “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
- “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
- “The primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.”
Back in 1981, right around the time Nazi skinheads were putting their stink all over the LA punk rock scene, I went to check out a Bob Marley tribute concert at MacArthur Park. People of all colors were passing joints around in the crowd, and I remember feeling how the music and ganja brought all of us together in a spirit of unity and brotherhood. It made me realize how this plant really did bring people of all races together. But it certainly came with risks. A few moments after my ganja-inspired epiphany, I noticed a police sniper patrolling the rooftop of a building directly behind us. I'd been going to punk shows for a couple of years at that point, and had witnessed riots and violence, and yes, plenty of cops. But I'd never seen snipers before. To me, it felt like the LAPD was taking the stance that breaking down racial barriers and coming together in a spirit of brotherhood was more of a threat than a bunch of angry white kids beating the crap out of each other at punk shows.
Decades later, when I first decided to get involved in the cannabis industry, one of the primary factors contributing to that decision was the desire to fight back against racial intolerance and mass incarceration. The cannabis and CBD industries - perhaps more than any other economic sector - are in fact founded on the ideals of racial justice, gender equality, and positive social change. That's why we and many others in our industry favor a Cannabis Opportunity Agenda, with the goal of bringing qualified minority candidates, especially those harmed by the Drug War, into the cannabis and CBD sectors.
For us, it's simple: THIS PLANT ENDS RACISM. I'm deeply saddened that it's taken the deaths of George, Breonna, Ahmad, and so many others to finally bring this conversation into the mainstream. But I am hopeful for the future, and humbled to play even a small part in moving the racial justice agenda forward.