Cannabis Programs At Historically Black Colleges You Should Know

Cannabis Programs At Historically Black Colleges You Should Know

In recent years, many universities have been offering programs centered around cannabis education, mainly due to changes in cannabis legislation and the increasing awareness of the plant’s economic benefits to medicine, agriculture, and more. As states continue to legalize cannabis for medical and recreational use, there's a growing need for educated individuals who understand the ins and outs of cannabis as a plant and as an industry. 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have been at the forefront of this movement, recognizing the importance of destigmatizing the plant and providing opportunities for their students and the surrounding communities to explore the cannabis industry and its potential impact on society. These programs aim to prepare students to tackle the complexities of the cannabis business, participate in ongoing research, and handle the legal, ethical, and health aspects associated with the plant.


North Carolina A&T State University

Through its College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, North Carolina A&T State University launched an Industrial Hemp Progam that focuses on identifying the best hemp varieties for producing CBD, assessing soil health, and researching hemp cultivation. After the North Carolina House and Senate passed Senate Bill 313, legalizing industrial hemp production in the state in 2015, the University obtained approval from the Industrial Hemp Commission (IHC) for a permit to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.


Florida A&M University (FAMU)

In 2017, FAMU launched the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) aimed at educating and informing students and Florida’s multicultural population about medical marijuana and the potential benefits to health and well-being from recreational use. FAMU President Dr. Larry Robinson states that the program’s objective is to “ensure that the voices of Florida's diverse communities are heard when policies are made, research is conducted, and that these communities benefit when medical usages are implemented.”


Alabama A&M University

After enacting the 2018 Congressional Farm Bill, allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp by farmers and universities, Alabama began issuing permits for its pilot program. Alabama A&M University (AAMU) was among the select universities in the state that sought and obtained a permit, marking the commencement of its industrial hemp research program. In 2022, they also partnered with Oregon State University’s Global Hemp Innovation Center (GHIC) and Phylos Bioscience, which were designed to discover and encourage avenues for minorities to participate in the cannabis industry.


Alabama State University (ASU)

In June 2019, approval was granted to Alabama State University, allowing them to incorporate hemp research into ASU's Title III activities. Since then, the ASU Industrial Hemp & Entomology Research Lab has been actively engaged in researching insect pests affecting the specialty crop and collaborating with fellow Alabama Hemp Growers to identify optimal management practices for its cultivation. Students interested in experiential and hands-on learning activities through the lab can participate in all aspects of ASU's industrial hemp research program.


Tuskegee University

In 2019, Tuskegee University became one of five Alabama universities authorized by the state to explore industrial hemp. Led by Dr. Desmond Mortley, a research professor in the College of Agriculture, Environment, and Nutrition Sciences, the study focuses on identifying optimal hemp varieties and innovative research techniques within state guidelines.


Southern University

In 2020, the Agricultural Research and Extension Center at Southern University, in collaboration with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, received authorization to produce THC products for the state of Louisiana. This initiative not only offered significant research prospects for students but also marked Southern University as the first historically Black university in the nation to introduce its own brand of THC medical cannabis products. The AYO brand is an homage to the university’s mascot. Southern University now holds one of the two cannabis licenses issued in Louisiana.


Clark Atlanta University

In 2019, Clark Atlanta University announced the launch of its Certificate in Regulatory Affairs for Cannabis Control, a three-course program focusing on the business aspects of cannabis legalization and regulation. The program was developed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of public policy issues involved in the cultivation, distribution, sales, and regulation of adult use and medicinal-use cannabis. It’s unclear whether the certificate program is still being offered at Clark. 


Medgar Evers College

While Medgar Evers College isn’t an HBCU, it is a predominantly Black institution (PBI). In 2021, the college introduced a cannabis minor degree program featuring courses like "Introduction to the World of Cannabis,” “New York Cannabis Dispensary 101,” and “Cannabis Social Impact.” Students interested in the program can select four courses to complete a cannabis minor in one of the four available tracks. These courses are not exclusive to MEC students; they are accessible to students across the 24 CUNY campuses through e-permits. Aligning with the recent legalization of adult-use cannabis in New York, the initiative aims to involve degree and non-degree students, faculty, staff, advocacy groups, and community members, including individuals with prior incarceration experiences and those transitioning from the legacy market as well as equip students for future careers in the cannabis industry.


As the cannabis industry continues to expand, HBCUs are playing a crucial role in preparing the next generation of leaders and innovators. By offering cannabis-focused programs and conducting research in this field, HBCUs provide valuable educational opportunities for their students and contribute to the advancement of the cannabis industry as a whole.

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