Cannabis 101: Changing the Narrative

Recently, Cannabis has been the talk of legislators in the United States, and it seems like Louisiana is beginning to jump on board with cannabis and embrace its many medicinal uses. Currently, the law in certain states says that Cannabidiol (CBD) Oil, containing up to .03 percent of THC is legal. However, in Louisiana, despite the law change, any trace of THC is deemed illegal.

Universities are gravitating to the ideas of alternative medicine and are conducting Medicinal Marijuana Labs across the states, to study and assist patients who struggle with certain diseases. Southern University is now about to embark on a journey to help patients meet their needs and inform the public about the medicinal purposes of cannabis to hopefully be able to produce product and serve patients according to their personal needs.

On April 3, the editorial staff of the Journal of Race, Poverty, and Gender along with the Alumni association hosted a symposium featuring key speaker Sue Taylor. Taylor is the first African American woman to be the founder and executive director of a licensed cannabis dispensary known as the iCANN Berkeley Health Center.

Taylor begun her symposium speaking about the importance of divine purpose and having a passion for whatever you do. She mentioned she is a former catholic school principal and now a dispensary owner, “Trust me I am the most unlikely person to be standing here talking to you about cannabis, I swear.” Mentioned Taylor as she spoke of how she got started on her journey to finding her “‘special niche.’”

Changing the narrative was the major focal point of the seminar, in order to do that we must first educate ourselves on cannabis and become familiar with its many medicinal uses. Dr. Christina Sanchez and Dr. Raphael were the first two chemists to study cannabis and cannabinoids for health research. Both concluded that cannabinoids are naturally found in the body as response to healing cells and tissues.

Pharmaceutical companies, however, are majorly against medical marijuana even though many studies have been conducted to prove that the medicine can help Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s Disease, Chronic Pain, Cancer, Multiple Scorsese and other illnesses.

According to BDS Analytics, a cannabis market and intelligence consumer research report, “41% of respondents to BDS Analytics’ consumer surveys report a reduction in use of OTC medications when using medical cannabis, while 39% report a reduction in use of prescription medications.” Other studies done on Medicaid Enrollees found 40 fewer opioid prescriptions per 1,000 people each year after the recent changes of legislation regarding cannabis. Still, even with these competitive statistics, pharmaceutical companies have been slowly trying to gain a space in the cannabis industry.

Southern University’s team, working with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, is a part of the efforts in informing legislators and pharmacies in the surrounding areas as described by partner of Janana Snowden, Dr. Chandra Canacee, “We have become monumental with legislators as steps will guide to the Black Congressional caucus meeting in New Orleans, to continue educating legislatures on the importance of medical marijuana as it pertains to autism patients as well as tax regulations.”

Even with statistics, education about cannabis is the responsibility of not only producers but for patients as well. Taylor spoke about the importance of knowing yourself and being fully aware of the medicine before considering use.

The narrative involving cannabis is in most cases negative, although passion for healing others is what drives the university, Sue, and various leaders of education and legislators to work consistently at changing the stigma associated with cannabis through education and studies.

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