By Kassia Graham
It’s refreshing to see a plant as stigmatized as cannabis become more welcome in the mainstream throughout the Americas. In the past, it was used for healing, relaxation, spiritual purposes, and more. Unfortunately, racist tactics meant to criminalize and disenfranchise people of colour and the poor came into play throughout the Americas; especially the United States. It’s too late to undo the harm done by the War on Drugs, but we can make circumstances better for those affected by the criminalization of cannabis. We must ensure generations are no longer ensnared in a system that never intended to work on their behalf through legalization, equity, and allyship.
It’s essential that job readiness programs and incubators are created to help women and people of colour (POC). Access to capital is vital; cannabis equity provides women, people of colour, the poor, and other marginalized groups more opportunities in the cannabis space. It benefits men too, by ensuring there are more diverse products from which to use and invest in. Cannabis equity is for everyone, really.
Equity coupled with allyship is powerful. That includes amplifying the needs and voices of those who’ve been excluded. Not everyone will be able to cultivate cannabis or own a dispensary, but there are multiple points of entry into the industry; and underrepresented people are finding their way by creating products for our consumption. We’re also able to signal allyship through shopping decisions; where and how we choose to spend our money.
It takes some trial and error to find salves, tinctures, edibles and the like, that work for each consumer. In that process, ask yourself if you’re giving brands created by women of colour a try. If you’re not sure where to start, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a short list of my favourite hemp and cannabis brands owned by women of colour.
Created by Mia Chae Reddy, PhD, CHAE’s Biru Balm is a multi-purpose lightweight balm for your body. It helps relieve skin inflammation, muscle soreness, dry skin, and dreaded menstrual cramps. The combination of 100 mg of full-spectrum CBD with 23 botanicals makes Biru Balm as uplifting as it is soothing. A custom facial gua sha is a great tool used to aide in the application of the balm to one’s face.
Recently launched, Elio CBD is keeping it simple with three products: a salve, moisturizer, and bath bomb. The soothing salve and moisturizer recipes come straight from Joy Hollingsworth’s (of the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company and farm fame) Auntie Jackie. The recipe has been in the works for eight years and was initially used to treat Jackie’s ailing quadriplegic husband and 98-year-old mother. Elio’s minty salve packs in 500 mg of full spectrum hemp CBD, while the moisturizer contains 100 mg. The fizzy bath bomb combines sweet coconut and refreshing green tea scents. All products are cruelty-free.
SoCal-based Kannai’s CBD massage candles are understated, yet sexy. Once melted, the oil produced can be used to massage the skin. Choose from the calming Relax, refreshing Chill, and invigorating Live. Kannai is the brainchild of several Asian American friends who are also members of the LGBTQIA+ community.
New hemp CBD brand Dashuri – the first completely minority-owned CBD company in Philadelphia – was founded by CEO Malik Boyd. Chira Smith, Director of U.S. Operations, leads the day-to-day of the business. Dashuri offers a range of full spectrum CBD products, including tinctures that enhance food and beverages. A draw for customers with furry friends is a tincture specifically formulated for pets. The brand also stocks several CBD teas, their Caramel Latte Black CBD being a stand-out.
Kassia Graham is the National Project Leader for Cannaclusive, a collective that facilitates fair representation of minority cannabis consumers. It celebrates the culture of this thriving community through curated experiences, thoughtful content, and dynamic visuals. Cannaclusive makes it easier for brands to communicate with diverse audiences to ensure minority consumers are not an afterthought, but a valued ally in the fight for legalization and destigmatization.