Cannabis and Black History Month: Examining Its Roots

Cannabis and Black History Month: Examining Its Roots

A Quick Overview On the Cannabis Industry

Although the cultivation of cannabis may be traced back to as early as 500 B.C. in Central Asia, it wasn’t until much later that it made its way across South Asia, on to India, and finally to the countries of the Middle East. Because of this, many of the names for cannabis, like “ganja,” are really derived from Sanskrit language.

From there, cannabis made its way to various regions of Africa some time around the 13th century owing to the extensive commerce system that was in place at the time. In the 1800s, the British sent indentured slaves from India to the Caribbean in order to put them to work on the sugar and rubber plantations that were located there on the various islands. A number of these servants were in possession of cannabis when they arrived.

As a consequence of this, Indian and Jamaican cultures began to mingle, and Jamaican black field workers were among the first people in the country to use cannabis. Slavery was effectively made illegal and all Indians who were being held as slaves on British islands after Britain’s declaration in 1833 that it was against the law to practise it. These folks left the plantations and relocated into other regions of Jamaica and Barbados, where they settled down and built homes for themselves. This, in turn, led to a rise in the popularity of cannabis as more people were exposed to it and tried it.

The question now is, how did cannabis become so prevalent in the United States? Cannabis was carried to the ports by immigrants, sailors, and trade merchants from the Caribbean. Many of these people sailed across the ocean. After then, people of colour and people of Latino descent started using cannabis for recreational purposes. On the other hand, the United States was barely ever unfamiliar with cannabis in the first place. At the time, a significant number of African Americans lived in the United States and had grandparents who worked on hemp farms.

To this day, Jamaica and marijuana are still usually thought of in the same context. This is especially the case when one considers the influential figure Bob Marley as well as other well-known artists from the island.

The Fight Against Drugs

The United States of America was exposed to a campaign that became widely known as the “War on Drugs” when Richard Nixon was serving as president. Although this effort, which started in 1971, is sometimes held responsible for the criminalization of cannabis, Henry J. Anslinger was really the one who initiated the problems in the first place. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was established in 1930, the same year that prohibition was lifted, and Harry Anslinger was appointed as the bureau’s first commissioner at that time.

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Cannabis was the only drug that could be criminalised at the time Anslinger was appointed to his position because both heroin and cocaine were already illegal at the time of his appointment. In spite of the fact that before he began his tenure, he had said publicly that the notion that cannabis makes people “crazy” or aggressive was preposterous, he continued to push for cannabis to be classified as a controlled substance. As a result of this, he became critical of jazz music and cannabis, two aspects of culture that had their origins in the Black community.

Let’s fast forward to the 1970s, when Nixon was serving as president. Because of his administration, there is a significant racial divide in the way that people of colour, particularly black people, are prosecuted and handled when they are accused of drug offences in comparison to white people. To this very day, we are still experiencing the aftereffects of their actions. According to a study that was carried out by the University of California, Los Angeles, black individuals have approximately four times the likelihood of being arrested for a felony linked to cannabis in comparison to white people.

This eventful history was also affected by the administration of Ronald Reagan, namely the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that he passed during his time in office. Not only did this result in cannabis being criminalised even further, but it also led to the creation of a legal concept known as mandatory sentencing. This meant that even for a minor offence that did not include physical violence, like as possession of marijuana, the person convicted would have to serve a minimum of five years in jail — a sentence that was scarcely commensurate with the crime. Because of this, private prisons filled up with predominantly African American males, which has resulted in a staggering expense to the government of the United States of $2.5 trillion.


A More Promising Prospective

Cannabis and the treatment of African-Americans in the United States have both made significant strides in recent years, but there is still a great deal of room to make up. Cannabis legalisation has resulted in a number of remarkable developments, including a reduction in the overall rate of criminal activity. In point of fact, there has been a 15% decrease in violent crime in the state of California. This is especially significant to us on a personal level, given that our cannabis shop is located in Port Hueneme, California.

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No, we are not merely talking to Nixon’s campaign when we say that the time has come to put an end to the wrongs and injustices that have been committed in the name of the war on drugs. These attempts were obviously motivated by bigotry, and their primary goal was to find a method to make money off of the mistreatment of African Americans. To begin, everyone who is presently serving a term for a drug-related offence that did not involve physical violence should be released from prison and have their criminal records cleared. The fact that someone is still doing time for a crime that is not only no longer unlawful but also never should have been prohibited in the first place is the opposite of justice.

In addition to this, communities of colour all throughout the United States of America should be compensated for the wrongs that have been done to them in the form of reparations. Those who were unfairly prosecuted require social and equitable programmes to assist them heal and reintegrate into society. These programmes need to be established. However, education will continue to be at the forefront of change and will give us reason to have optimism for the future. By providing financial support for the education of the next generation on cannabis, we will be able to assist in the process of unlearning the myths that have been propagated over the past 400 years.

We will not be able to make any genuine progress ahead unless the existing cannabis sector undergoes the aforementioned kinds of changes. Therefore, throughout the month of February, it is important to not only reflect on the Black Americans who have endured hardships as a result of their desire to openly consume cannabis, but also to do what you can to be a part of the change. Vote, speak out, and give what you can; it’s only when we all work together that we’ll be able to create a better world for everyone.

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