Rooted Legacy: Cannabis Throughout Black History

Ancient Roots in Africa (3000 BC - 1000 AD):

Did you know that the Mexican term ‘marijuana’ is linked to the word ‘mariamba’, which was used in Kimbundu, a trade language from West and Central Africa? “A Brief Agricultural history of Cannabis in Africa” by Chris Duvall shows that cannabis came to Africa around 1000 years ago, marking the plant’s official introduction to the continent. However, there are many signs that ancient Egyptians found several uses for the cannabis plant as many as 5,000 years ago. It wasn’t until around 1500 AD that the plant’s popularity started to grow and spread over Africa. Farmers were known to cultivate the plant under a variety of settings, and cannabis gardens have been documented in many African countries, including South Africa, Mozambique, and Angola.


Pipe smoking, a huge shift in cannabis consumption, originated in Africa around this time. Before this development, cannabis was often ingested orally in Asia, where the plant originated. “The History of Cannabis in Africa: True Tales of Oppression, Suppression and Exploitation” mentions that there were many different techniques to prepare the cannabis plant for smoking, but the most simple and popular method was to dry the flowers beforehand. 


The introduction of pipe smoking in Africa led to a significant shift in the cultural and historical landscape of cannabis usage, which we see all over today. Modern techniques of cannabis consumption, such as water pipes, hookahs, and bongs, all trace their origins back to the single invention of pipe smoking, showing the impact African history has on today’s cannabis culture. 

Arrival to the World Through African Slave Trade (1526 - 1867):

As the slave trade unfolded, cannabis was valued for its health effects, primarily as a stimulant and medicinal plant. A complex relationship with the plant began as slavers provided cannabis for slaves to smoke during forced marches to give them moments of relief in the painful, horrible journey. 


A commercial trade where slaves transported cannabis shipments to the coast was also established during this time. Cannabis seeds were sown into the clothing worn on slave ships and were spread upon their arrival to the Americas, allowing the plant to travel across continents. Chris Duvall’s “The African Roots of Marijuana” mentions that these slaves “carried Cannabis indica to more locations and for a longer period of time than any other group of migrants.”


In the 16th century, slaves from various countries including Angola, brought cannabis seeds to Brazilian sugar plantations. Slave owners encouraged slaves to tend to their own cannabis plants in order to combat periods of ‘laziness’ and to increase productivity while they weren’t actively being forced to work.

The Jazz Era and Prohibition (1910- 1939) :

“Why, When, and How Marijuana Became Illegal” mentions how marijuana was utilized for various reasons for centuries in the Americas, but it wasn’t until the Prohibition Era (1920-1933), when alcohol was banned, that its recreational use really took off. Southern state governments began to regulate the cannabis plant around this time, claiming that its use had an impact on crime rates and that by banning cannabis, it would cause immigrants who brought the plant with them to leave. By 1931, recreational cannabis had become illegal in most of the United States, however it was still growing and thriving in the Jazz landscape. 

The History Channel states that the 1910’s marked a golden age for African American culture– the Harlem Renaissance had begun and the American Dream was going strong. The Black community sought refuge in communal spaces where they could dance and hang out called juke joints. These places were a safe space for Black people to escape from their everyday racial struggles. This made it an ideal space to partake in drinking, dancing, and listening to their favorite Jazz musicians. Cannabis was utilized by many, many of these Jazz musicians who played in juke joints from 1920-1939 for its ability to help the creative process as they made music and to keep that flow going while they performed. The love for reefer (or cannabis) showed through the numerous songs that Jazz musicians dedicated to it. 

Black Jazz musician Louis Armstrong is among the top artists of all time in the genre, and he took the music scene by storm with his transformation of Jazz music, including his song “Muggles”, a slang term for marijuana. Cab Calloway, the first African American to sell one million records, joined the ranks with a few releases mentioning marijuana during the 1930s and 1940s, including “Reefer Man” and “The Man From Harlem”. Despite segregation going strong, these songs were playing in many households across the country. 


 Due to its links to African Americans, jazz became known as “The Devil’s Music” and deemed to be demonic and immoral, sparking fear in those who believed the propaganda. “Reefer Madness”, a movie that made its debut in 1936, was just one of the campaigns to prove that marijuana brought nothing but trouble. 

Reefer Madness Cover

The War on Drugs (1971 - 1995) :

Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, had done much work in the 1930s-1960s to link anti-cannabis rhetoric to an anti-Black mindset. He was quoted saying, “Satanic music, jazz and swing, results from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others.” According to “Racism and Its Effect on Cannabis Research” by Robert Solomon, Anslinger’s work to introduce marijuana reform with the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act set the stage for the Marijuana Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, this act categorized drugs from Schedule 1 to 5 based on the danger they pose (marijuana falls as a schedule 1 substance) and is still in place today. 

In 1971, President Nixon declared the “War on Drugs” to combat drug abuse and increase government efforts to control it. According to PBS’ Marijuana Timeline, the initiative went into the background for a little while, until conservative groups lobbied for stricter policies and gained a lot of support from large organizations like the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This did much in changing the public opinion of cannabis to a negative one. President Ronald Regain strengthened the initiative in 1981, when he signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. 

PBS’ Marijuana Timeline goes on to mention that under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, policy allowed for three infractions before life sentences were given. 100 marijuana plants was sentenced equal to 100 grams of heroin. Unfortunately, this led to a snowball effect as incarceration, especially of Black people, became much more emphasized than treatment due to governmental pushes and public fears of the crack epidemic rising. 


According to the 1996 Crime in the United States (CIUS) Report, from 1980-1995, there was an 80% increase in the total number of arrests for the possession or sale of marijuana. In 1995, the proportion of Black people in total drug arrests increased from 24% in 1980 to 39% in 1995. On the other hand, White arrests decreased from 75% in 1980 to 60% in 1995. The distribution of other racial groups stayed relatively the same during this period.

The Present (2000 - Present) :

California became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and over in 2016. In the years since then, we’ve seen several states reform their cannabis policies, with Ohio becoming the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2023. As marijuana possession and use becomes legal across the United States, we reach a new climate as the public opinion on marijuana steadily changes. 

Screenshot 2024-02-21 at 12.05.44 PM

According to The Pew Research Center, 85% of Black Americans now say at least the medical use of marijuana should be legal. Outrage ensued as Black track star Sha’Carri Richardson was unable to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after THC led to a failed drug test. The growing support for her and other users of cannabis can be attributed to several factors such as the widespread popularity of Hip Hop culture and its ties to marijuana, increased research and understanding of the plant, and the success of states adopting new legalization policies.

California became the first state to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults 21 and over in 2016. In the years since then, we’ve seen several states reform their cannabis policies, with Ohio becoming the most recent state to legalize recreational marijuana in 2023. As marijuana possession and use becomes legal across the United States, we reach a new climate as the public opinion on marijuana steadily changes. 


According to The Pew Research Center, 85% of Black Americans now say at least the medical use of marijuana should be legal. Outrage ensued as Black track star Sha’Carri Richardson was unable to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after THC led to a failed drug test. The growing support for her and other users of cannabis can be attributed to several factors such as the widespread popularity of Hip Hop culture and its ties to marijuana, increased research and understanding of the plant, and the success of states adopting new legalization policies.


Mental health conversations have opened up and safe spaces are now ways to facilitate mental and physical self-care, many of which utilize cannabis to maintain this. A 2020 Statista survey showed that 27% of Black Americans aged 18-25 mentioned that they had used marijuana in the last month. The social aspect of cannabis remains strong as the shift from juke joints to Black nightclubs and bars gives a way to escape pressures of daily life and build community.


With that said, we still have much to do. The American Civil Liberties Union mentions that from 2001-2010, over 8.2 million people were arrested for simple marijuana possession. Of this number, Black people were around 4 times more likely to be arrested. Fortunately, programs like Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit dedicated to reforming the criminal justice system and supporting those affected, are becoming more commonplace and pardons are being issued. With this information, we look toward a brighter future and are excited to see society form a healthy relationship with the plant that weaves a connection through Black history. 


To learn more about the Last Prisoner Project, click here!

Top 5 Unique Valentine’s Day Gifts Your Partner Won’t Expect

Valentine’s Day is here, and while it’s a time of love, it can be a bit stressful to figure out what to get your special someone. Look no further, we’ve created a list with the best gift ideas for you! From personalized fragrances to custom cannabis accessories, here are the top 5 Valentine’s gifts that will make your celebration a hit.

Customized Cannabis Accessories (#5):

You can elevate your partner’s cannabis experience by including that special personalized touch. Customize rolling papers with unique designs or their name, place a picture you both love on a high-quality grinder, or give them a cool reminder of their favorite character on a new lighter. This gift combines thoughtfulness and functionality into one amazing product, creating a unique and memorable addition to their cannabis repertoire. 

Etsy is an amazing place to get these items made and shipped to you, here are some options to get you started: 

  1. Personalized Grinder

  2. Custom Rolling Tray Set

  3. Custom Lighters

Memory-Making Time(#4):

As they say, “experience gives us memories that last a lifetime.” Whether it’s a cooking class, a uniquely-themed restaurant you’ve always wanted to try followed by a visit to a museum exhibition, or a weekend getaway, an experience that you both can enjoy together is sure to make a memory that you’ll be able to look back on. These shared adventures not only deepen your connection but also write stories that will become cherished chapters in the book of your relationship, making every moment truly unforgettable.

Below are some cool and unique things to do near you!

  1. Columbus
    1. Otherworld | Immersive Art Experience 
    2. Game Show Battle Rooms
    3. The Escape Game Columbus 
  2. Athens
    1. Athena Cinema
    2. Kennedy Museum of Art 
    3. Vacation Cabin Getaway
  3. Beavercreek
    1. Two Social | Gaming Center & Bar
    2. Wild Axe Throwing
    3. The Learning Kitchen 

Cannabis Themed Apparel (#3):

Does your partner have a passion for fashion? Make a bold statement with cannabis-themed apparel that reflects your partner’s tastes. From stylish T-shirts and hoodies to cool accessories and jewelry, there are endless options to showcase their love for cannabis culture. Choosing pieces that align with their style makes this a thoughtful gift that they will absolutely appreciate. Not only does this gift  allow them to express their interests, but it also adds a touch of individuality to their wardrobe, ensuring they stand out with a unique and fashionable edge.

Here’s a list of some amazing options we found: 

  1. Blaze It Hoodie
  2. Unisex Stoner Girl Sweatshirt 
  3. Unisex Plant Some Trees Shirt
  4. Nugget Plushie
  5. Resin Ring


Custom Fragrance (#2):

Did you know that attraction is often linked to scent? Harnessing this intriguing connection, we’re recommending a custom fragrance as the perfect gift.  You can work with a perfumer to create a scent that embodies the essence of your relationship or find a custom candle shop near you. Whether it’s a blend of floral notes, warm spices, or citrus undertones, a custom fragrance is a personal and romantic gift that will be cherished.

The list below has a few custom perfume and scent companies that ship to your house!

  1. Me Fragrance Custom Perfume
  2. Maison 21G
  3. Scent Crafters 

Harvest of OH Valentine’s Day Love Bundle (#1):

We’ve saved the best for last! Kick off the celebration with our curated Valentine’s Day Love Bundle, featuring the romantic essentials:  topicals, chocolates, and cannabis flower. Available on Valentine’s Day at a 30% discount, this bundle can be paired perfectly with a gift basket or given as a stand-alone gift. Complete the gesture with a personalized card, scented candles, and a heartfelt message, tailoring it to your partner’s tastes for a one-of-a-kind expression of your love.

This Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to step outside the ordinary to express your love with gifts that mirror the uniqueness of your relationship. Each of these presents is bound to make your celebration truly memorable. Demonstrate your appreciation for your partner’s individuality and celebrate the bond you share with gifts that resonate with their heart. Let us know all about how your Valentine’s Day went by tagging us @harvestofoh on Instagram!

The list below has a few custom perfume and scent companies that ship to your house!

  1. Me Fragrance Custom Perfume
  2. Maison 21G
  3. Scent Crafters 

Inside the Brain: Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

In the pursuit of health advocacy, some battles are unique, affecting the center of our existence – our brains. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a condition that demands our attention. As we unite to raise awareness on CTE Awareness Day, it's crucial to delve into the depths of this condition, its impact, and the imperative need for awareness and research.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a complex and progressive neurodegenerative condition that has seen an increase in attention during recent years, especially in the worlds of contact sports and military service. In the state of Ohio, CTE is recognized as a qualifying medical condition under the OMMCP. It’s characterized by the build up of abnormal tau protein in the brain, which may be triggered by repetitive head traumas, like concussions. While the symptoms of CTE may not come about immediately, the condition gradually unfolds over time, leading to changes in mood, behavior, and thought (1)


Recent advancements in CTE research have propelled our understanding of this medical condition forward. Improved diagnostic tools, such as advanced imaging and biomarker studies, allow for earlier detection and intervention (2). Preventative measures, such as rule changes in contact sports, protective equipment innovations, and increased research funding, show the many approaches that are being taken to handle the complexities of CTE (3). 


The exploration of medical marijuana as a treatment adds a promising aspect to ongoing efforts, and allows for symptom management and improving the quality of life for those affected by this qualifying condition. As awareness grows and collaborative research efforts continue, the hope is that these advancements will lead to breakthroughs that transform the landscape of CTE diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.


Through our exploration of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, we’re reminded of our commitment to better understand the challenges faced by people with this condition and to create a positive impact in our community. 


Learn how you can support those with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)!




Glaucoma Unveiled: Understanding, Prevention, and Hope

As we step into Glaucoma Awareness Month, we shine a light on a condition that, despite its impact on millions worldwide, is not always known. Often referred to as the "silent thief of sight," glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve connecting the eye to the brain. In the state of Ohio, glaucoma is recognized as a qualifying medical condition under the OMMCP.

Typically, when people mention "glaucoma," they are referring to open-angle glaucoma, which is the most common in the United States. This type of glaucoma occurs when the drainage channels in the eye gradually become clogged over time, resulting in increased pressure within the eye and potential harm to the optic nerve (2)

Regular eye exams are crucial when it comes to catching this “silent thief”, allowing opthamologists to detect glaucoma in its early stages before damage may occur. Your eye doctor may complete the following tests to detect glaucoma (3):

  • Tonometry – testing for inner eye pressure levels
  • Ophthalmoscopy – dilated eye exam testing for the shape and color of the optic nerve
  • Perimetry – examining the eye’s field of vision
  • Gonioscopy – looking at the angle in the eye where the iris meets the cornea
  • Pachymetry – examining the thickness of the cornea

The gradual nature of glaucoma, spanning over many years, makes it challenging for those affected to detect early symptoms as they may not notice anything different than usual. However, in some cases, individuals may notice subtle changes like a gradual loss of peripheral vision or experience symptoms like blurred vision and rainbow-colored circles around lights (2)

Encouragingly, strides are being made in the fight against glaucoma. Treatment options, including medications to reduce eye pressure, surgical interventions, and the use of medical marijuana, are available and improving. Clinical studies have shown hopeful results, indicating that medical marijuana usage can reduce intraocular pressure, along with conventional treatments (1).

Throughout this month, we advocate for routine eye examinations and support those impacted by glaucoma. Take a proactive step towards clearer sight – schedule your eye exam today and invest in a brighter, sharper tomorrow. Your eyes deserve the care, so don't wait; book your appointment now!

Understanding IBD: Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week

Understanding IBD: Crohns and Colitis Awareness Week

As we enter Crohn's and colitis Awareness Week, it's time to shine a spotlight on the millions of individuals around the world bravely facing the challenges of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Running from December 1st to December 7th, this awareness week serves as a powerful platform to educate, advocate, and unite in the fight against Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

IBD is an umbrella term for conditions with chronic inflammation of tissues in the digestive tract. In Ohio, IBD qualifies as a medical condition under the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program (OMMCP). The two most common medical conditions under that umbrella are: Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis specifically impacts the lining of the large intestine (colon), while Crohn's disease can affect any segment of the small or large intestine causing irritation not only to the lining but also to deeper layers. As these conditions affect the digestive system, they may lead to inflammation and a range of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. Due to this, IBD can significantly impact the quality of life for those affected, making awareness and support very important.

Facts about IBD
● Anyone can get IBD, with 1 in 100 Americans being affected by this condition and around 70,000 new patients being diagnosed each year.

● Men and women are equally likely to be affected by IBD

● Damaged areas of Crohn’s disease appear in patches that are next to areas of healthy tissue while damaged parts from Ulcerative colitis travel continuously

● While we don’t know the exact cause of IBD, it occurs because of a weakened immune system.

Crohn's and colitis Awareness Week plays a significant role in addressing the misconceptions surrounding IBD and fostering empathy and awareness for those living with these conditions. By highlighting the challenges faced by individuals with Crohn's and colitis, we can work towards breaking down stigmas, increasing understanding, and promoting a more inclusive and supportive society.

Healthy Aging Webinar Recap

Stepping into a medical marijuana dispensary for the first time can be daunting, especially for older people. This free webinar “Healthy Aging: Medical Cannabis for Older Adults,” sponsored by The Plain Dealer and, provides expert advice about how to safely and legally use medical marijuana.

Play Video

5 Amazing Ways to Raise Awareness for National Cancer Day

5 Amazing Ways to Raise Awareness for National Cancer Day

1. Showcase the Color

Cancer awareness, like many other qualifying conditions, is represented by various colors. While pink is widely recognized as the color for Breast Cancer, there are also multicolored ribbons that symbolize different types of cancers. For example, Carcinoid Cancer is symbolized by a ribbon with a zebra pattern, and cervical cancer is represented by teal and white.

2. Promote Regular Screenings & Checkups

Early detection is very critical for better cancer outcomes. Screening tests can help detect cancer at an early stage, before symptoms even appear. Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to make frequent check-ups and screenings a priority. You can even participate in awareness campaigns or utilize social media to spread awareness of the significance of early detection.

3. Participating in Fundraising Events

Get hands-on in raising cancer awareness by participating in fundraising events. Charity races, auctions, and bake sales are not only enjoyable but also effective ways to raise resources and support for cancer research and local services.

4. Support Local Cancer Organizations

Cancer organizations help provide incredibly important resources and help to patients and their families. Your support allows them to continue and carry out their mission. Volunteering your time or making donations to these organizations are fantastic ways to make sure that they keep moving forward.

5. Advocate for Cancer Research Funding

Cancer research is truly important in developing new treatments and improving what we know of this qualifying condition, Writing letters to your politicians, attending public meetings, and asking for more funding at all levels of government helps these research centers learn more about the disease and its treatments,

Medical Cannabis Awareness Week: The Journey of Medical Cannabis in Ohio

It's Medical Cannabis Awareness Week! If Ohio passes Issue 2's Marijuana Initiative on November 7th, it will become the 24th state in the United States to legalize recreational marijuana. As we look toward a new chapter, we reflect on the journey of medical cannabis in Ohio and how far we've come in the last decade.

    • In 2015, Ohio voters rejected the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, with a little more than half voting “no”. This initiative was not popular among Ohio voters, and was highly criticized for attempting to create a monopoly on marijuana, and lacked backing from pro-legalization groups.
    • In 2016, we saw the legalization of medical marijuana, when House Bill 523 was passed in the House of Representatives 71-25.
    • In 2018, The Board of Pharmacy announced the activation of the Patient and Caregiver Registry
    • In 2019, the first medical marijuana dispensary opened its doors
    • In 2021, the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) began its efforts to get the initiative on the ballot. The group spent four months gathering signatures to submit to the secretary of state.
    • In 2022, several new states, like Maryland and Missouri, approved recreational marijuana through legislation like Issue 2.
    • In 2023, The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol was given a 10-day cure period to get the 679 signatures they were short on. During this time, they received more than ten times that, raising the total of valid signatures to 127,772 and ensuring the initiative for the ballot.

As the general election approaches on November 7th, we encourage each person to exercise your right to vote. Your vote is your voice!

Healthy Aging Webinar

November 14, 2023 | 5:00 - 6:30 p.m. | FREE Virtual Event | on Zoom

Have you often wondered about the health benefits of medical cannabis? Do you have questions you want to know the answer to but have been afraid to ask?

Join us for Healthy Aging: Medical Cannabis for Older Adults presented by Harvest of Ohio and gain valuable insights on navigating the medical cannabis industry. 

Our trusted experts will lead us through research based conversations on the benefits of medical cannabis, tips on interacting with your healthcare provider, what to expect when going into a dispensary, and a product overview lead by a seasoned pharmacist. 


Look forward to expert conversations on:   

  • Compliance & safety regulations
  • Health conditions and benefits
  • Obtaining a medical card
  • How to approach the topic with your doctor
  • What to expect when going to a dispensary
  • Detailed product overview

Event Moderator

Julie Washington, Healthcare Reporter,

Expert Sessions

Safety and Regulations

This segment will give an overview of regulations in place in Ohio to ensure the safety of medical cannabis consumers. From testing requirements dispensaries have to follow to the key components of cannabis – this segment will give you the information you need to safely and legally consume medical cannabis.

Amonica Davis, COO, Harvest of Ohio

Sean Lamb, Compliance Officer, Harvest of Ohio

Medical Cannabis for Older Adults

This segment will cover medical conditions that can be treated or managed with medical cannabis, how to bring the topic up with your healthcare provider, and cover what to expect when you go into a dispensary for the first time. 

Dr. Bridget Cole Williams, M.D., Medical Cannabis Specialist


Keya Kellum, Director of Marketing and Procurement, Harvest of Ohio

Amonica Davis, COO, Harvest of Ohio

Product Overview Brought to You by Amplify

Lead by an experienced pharmacist, this segment will cover how medical cannabis is typically administered, determining the right dosage, and what products typical cater to the diverse needs of older patients. 


AJ Caraballo, Amplify, Retail Director and Pharmacist 

Virtual Exhibitor Booths

Summer of Wellness

August is National Wellness Month. Celebrate your mental and physical health with us by taking the Harvest: Summer of Wellness Challenge. This month is all about prioritizing self care, managing stress, and promoting healthy routines. Making a lifestyle change by creating healthy habits can promote your overall happiness and health. At the end of our challenge, you’ll be able to look back on your progress and determine which aspects of self-care you truly enjoy!

Week One: Clean Eating

  • Balanced diet
  • Leafy greens
  • Healthy fats
  • Fiber

Week Two: Care for your Physical Health

  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing

Week Three: Care for your Mental health

  • Checking in with yourself
  • Checking in with others
  • Meditating
  • Self-Affirmations

Week Four: Get out and boost your endorphins!

  • Trying a new hobby
  • Enjoying nature
  • Speak to two new people
  • Learn a new fun fact