Southern Univ. Becomes First Historically Black College to Release a CBD Product

Southern University and A&M College, the country’s largest Historically Black College University (HBCU), just made history by launching its own line of CBD products. The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, created these new hemp-derived oils in partnership with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a Pennsylvania-based medical cannabis company.

The two organizations have branded their new venture ALAFIA, named after the Yoruba word for “inner peace.” The company is currently offering two different lab-tested, pesticide-free CBD tinctures: an isolate version that contains only purified CBD, and a full-spectrum version that includes other non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN and THCV. Both products are available in 500mg and 1000mg strengths.

The two organizations announced their partnership at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in New Orleans last week. As of now, the products can only be found at 8 pharmacies in Louisiana, but ALAFIA expects that distributors and retailers all across the country will have them in stock by the end of this month. Because these CBD oils do not contain THC, they can be legally sold in all 50 states, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized all hemp-derived products.

“We are witnessing history,” said Chanda Macias, PhD., CEO of Ilera, to Forbes. “Southern University partnered with us to bring this product line to market, making them the first Historically Black College University (HBCU) to launch a CBD line… When you think of the rich history Southern University holds here in Louisiana, this launch only mirrors the monumental impacts this higher education institution has made in this country.” 

Louisiana has a long history of being one of the least cannabis-friendly states in the country, but in 2015, lawmakers finally passed a medical marijuana law. This conservative law only allows two institutions, Southern University and Louisiana State University, to grow cannabis for research or medical use. Nearby Mississippi has also limited all cannabis production to one institution — the University of Mississippi — home to the country’s only federally-legal cannabis farm.

Although the federal government continues to prohibit marijuana, a number of universities have gotten the go-ahead from the feds to conduct cannabis research studies. Two US universities have even set up their own research centers to investigate the therapeutic properties of psychedelics. Southern University’s project remains unique, however, in that it is one of the few institutions to get involved in the business end of selling cannabis products, rather than sticking solely to research.

“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, in a statement. “Southern has been a leader in agriculture and the sciences for 140 years while staying true to its mission of access. This CBD venture with Ilera encompasses all of that. We look forward to advancing this vision and serving as a model for other universities.”

Juana Lombard, Louisiana Alcohol and Tobacco commissioner, told New Orleans WAFB 9 that she encourages local retailers “to start looking at the products coming out of this wonderful university… It’s a thrill now to know that we are introducing another commerce stream into the retail end of CBD in Louisiana.”

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