Black History Month is a time to reflect on the accomplishments of Black leaders in every facet of our society, and in the cannabis industry, there is no shortage of their contributions to note. As a committed partner to building an inclusive cannabis industry and society committed to equity and solidarity, Holland Green Science gives thanks to the Black figures – known and unknown – that have been instrumental in building the cannabis industry as we know it, as well as those who will be pivotal in pushing it forward in years to come.
Cannabis history is Black history
Cannabis history is, in many ways, Black history. Well before cannabis ever reached North America, it was introduced to African nations by Arab traders in the 13th century, who brought the psychoactive forms of Cannabis indica from central Asia and the Hindu-Kush mountain range. In Africa, the flower was called “Dagga” and became a popular consumption item for centuries before its use migrated West in the 19th century, brought by indentured servants forced to move to the Caribbean by the British military.
When cannabis arrived in the U.S., it remained inextricably connected to Black history. American cannabis history also wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging the contributions of the West African men and women whose labor established the foundation of Kentucky’s still-thriving hemp industry – an industry from which they never profited though it was their work that made the cultivation of hemp seed possible.
Of course, the innovations of prominent Black scientists offered key advancements in cannabis cultivation and processing as well. This includes the likes of George Washington Carver, an agricultural scientist often referenced for his discovery of more than 300 uses for the peanut plant. However, Carver is also notable for his discovery of more than 300 uses of industrial hemp, which can be used to create textiles, foods, biofuels, and more. In the same vein, we have Booker T. Whatley to thank for developing the soil regeneration techniques and economical farming practices that laid the groundwork for Community Supported Agriculture and the many cultivation practices used in cannabis today.
Additionally, the cannabis community of today owes a great debt to the cultural icons who advanced the social conversation around cannabis. These include people like Marsha P. Johnson, well known for her role in the Stonewall riots in 1969, who advocated on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients and their right to access cannabis as medicine. It also includes Josephine Baker, an American-born French civil rights activist and performer who was central to the Harlem Renaissance. Baker would also reportedly invite people to consume cannabis with her before her performances, emphasizing the connection between cannabis and art. These historic cultural figures helped set the stage for the legalization movement, both for medical and recreational consumption.
Each of these Black leaders, as well as countless others both remembered and those lost to history, emphasize the ongoing need to break down the racial barriers that still plague the cannabis industry to this day.
History in the making
Today, we also look to the advocates who continue to push for progress. From those who advance the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cannabis industry to those who continue to push back against antiquated public policy that has unfairly and disproportionately targeted Black communities. It is those advocates we have to thank for the establishment of evermore robust social equity programs in states that have legalized cannabis, and those advocates who continue to push lawmakers to do more to ensure an inclusive cannabis industry that represents all of us.
Then there is the bright future of the cannabis industry, which will undoubtedly be in the hands of the Black students pursuing education in STEM fields and agricultural science, as well as those who will be the cannabis entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Black youth today will be an integral part of this industry as it grows, helping to build the history upon which future generations will look back. It is our responsibility as members of the cannabis industry today to ensure the opportunity to use their skills and knowledge is not obstructed but celebrated.
To that end, Holland Green Science is dedicated to establishing partnerships with Black-owned businesses not just in the U.S. but internationally. Because cannabis history is Black history, we are dedicated to establishing those partnerships by offering special discounts and promotions on equipment for Black-owned enterprises helping to advance the cannabis industry today – if you’re interested in such a partnership, contact us today.
Reflecting and building toward an equitable future together
Black History Month is more than an opportunity to reflect, but also an opportunity to build. Regardless of your ethnicity, it is a chance to raise up the voices of those who were often silenced or ignored due to racist institutions in the past, and to look to a future in which Black voices are central to the development of the cannabis industry and our larger society. We are proud to join in that effort and to all those Black leaders of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we offer our heartfelt gratitude and extend our hand to build equitable partnerships.