Southern University became the country’s first historically Black college to become involved in the CBD industry. The school announced a new anti-inflammatory product line with Ilera Holistic Healthcare at New Orleans’ H&W Drug Store Dispensary on Thursday. Southern is one of only two permit holders in the state’s medical marijuana system, along with Louisiana State University.
“Our goals with this line is to support all communities by creating access to wellness products at affordable price points,” commented Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO of Ilera in a press release. “No one should endure the stress of trying to balance a healthy lifestyle at high costs, that within itself is unhealthy,” she continued.
Wellness, Peace, and Equity
The line has been dubbed ALAFIA, a word which means inner peace in the Yoruba language. Southern University officials expressed their hope that the project would inspire similar partnerships across the country.
“This is an exciting time for healthcare and business here in the state of Louisiana, and Southern University is honored to be a part of it all,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University system. “Southern has been a leader in agriculture and the sciences for 140 years while staying true to its mission of access … We look forward to advancing this vision and serving as a model for other universities.”
There is good reason to applaud POC-led cannabis industry projects in Louisiana. A 2016 report showed that Black people were arrested 2.6 times more than whites for marijuana possession in the state — a rate that soared to six times more likely in Baton Rouge. That city is also the home of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center that is heading up the Ilera partnership.
ALAFIA products are due to hit shelves by the end of February. They will include two formulas of CBD tincture; isolate CBD in 500mg ($40) and 1000mg ($80) packages, and full spectrum CBD with 500mg ($40) and 1000mg ($80) sizes. More products are reportedly in development.
Though Southern is the first HBC to announce a CBD partnership, it is far from the country’s only institute of higher education to get involved with the cannabis industry. Last year Washington State launched a project with a pharmaceutical research company with the aim of studying cannabis products. UC Davis has announced a similar partnership.
In Kentucky, Murray State University’s Hutson School of Agriculture is among the schools that have offered support to the state’s burgeoning hemp industry.
Louisiana hasn’t always been the safest place to sell CBD. Less than a year ago, the owner of Lafayette’s Cajun Cannabis was taken to jail, his store was raided, and several felony charges delivered after police allegedly found THC-infused products, including dog treats and honey. The incident began when Travis DeYoung was pulled over and cops allegedly found a gun and cannabidiol products in a search of his vehicle.
Hemp product legalization was passed in the state last June. A medical marijuana system that started distributing to patients last year — it now has over 3,500 individuals enrolled — has been criticized for its lack of supplies.