Mary Jane is for the People
As the US gradually becomes legally recreational for marijuana, people of color are being encouraged to get into the cannabis industry. For years the war on drugs has generated more and more villains out of victims of oppression and furthermore, misinform people of a plant that has been proven to relieve chronic pain and more.
“It was black and brown people that had to suffer the heaviest. The lion’s share of what came of the drug war and the stigma. Now that majority populations are making millions… billions of dollars in creating an entirely new industry, I saw an opportunity I felt I deserved. I’m like, ‘I’m not just going to buy weed.’ I’m going to brand myself and help others do the same. Get in a position in doing so because it’s owed to us,” said Jondae Scott, Outreach Coordinator and Patience Specialists for Missions South Shore Medical Cannabis Dispensary, 8554 S. Commercial Ave.
Scott is also a member of Chicago NORML, whose focus is normalizing marijuana and including minorities in the cannabis dialogue.
Scott has been legitimately in the Cannabis industry for a little over a year now. After being part of staff at Sensi Magazine, she continued to network and seek other black people in the industry, attending conferences, seminars and anything she could until Missions reached out for her services.
Since August she has served as the Illinois Chapter President for Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM) which is an organization whose focus is to inform primarily people of color about the plant itself and the business as well. Although she admits she feels like she’s still fresh in the industry, she has been smoking since she was a teenager. She decided to seek guidance in the industry after diving deeper into how the plant contributed to her own health and wellness.
“Number 1, I’m a stoner. I’m a stoner for life. Once I really started learning the science and realized why I like to consume… that’s when it became important to me that this plant is healing me. Being someone who tries to be health conscious, I see how the lack of health consciousness in the black community is killing us and so I looked at cannabis as another form of wellness.”
In that journey to find her place in the cannabis industry, she noticed and became frustrated with how little she saw black people in the mix. She had been in the culinary industry for some time and noticed the similarities between sanitation regulations and other policies which is when she realized that not only was she fresh in an industry that she has been intuitively involved since her teenage years but that the industry itself was fresh to being open and legal.
The once, illegal substance known as Marijuana is no longer only connected to the increase of drug addiction, poverty, crime and violence. It’s legal and can now be prescribed by a certified medical expert or even withheld as a result of weak medical coverage. Scott explains that cannabis was originally outlawed after the Mexican revolution brought thousands of Mexican people to the US.
“It was an opportunity to connect the stigma of cannabis that already existed to their racism towards Mexican-Americans… the type of cannabis that was being brought over by Mexican-Americans was referred to as “killer weed” or “wacky tobacco” and it was considered dangerous and the type of cannabis that would make you go crazy and rape white women. That was one of the first major steps in criminalization,” said Scott.
She compares the dangers of being misinformed about the plant to being able to walk the many food and liquor stores within distance of schools and daycares in predominantly black communities. She goes on to explain that the reason legalization is such a gradual process is because there’s a significant amount of research be done to prove this plant is not dangerous at all.
Scott addresses how the evolving laws on marijuana can also increase arrests when people, especially those who are constantly targeted by law enforcement, don’t fully understand how to properly supply and distribute the plant. In recent cannabis policy, Congress has passed a law making Hemp legal.
“So it’s now federally legal. With the growth of hemp comes the production of cbd products; cbd being the non-psychoactive legal component of cannabis. now that it’s a legal substance it’s an opportunity for corporate growth for state-to-state distribution, so it’s different advancements like that that I want our people to keep up with and to treat it like its important,” she said.
As she speaks on her plans as Chapter President for M4MM, she wants to continue to focus on “equity before equality” so that people can place their own impositions to start businesses and assist those who are victims of the drug war. She said she gets a lot of people who ask her how to get in the business and wants to continue crossing paths with those who are serious about getting involved.
Scott said, “Regardless of anyone’s opinion the facts remain the same and everybody uses cannabis at their own level of preference. What one sees as destructive, may be necessary for someone else. Maybe a cancer patient who chooses to smoke all day and smoke all night might be looked at as irresponsible to someone else but when it comes to destructive behavior as of right now cannabis has caused no fatalities to date so I think that’s something that people need to understand first and foremost.”
You can check more of Jondae Scott out at clearassmoke.blog for cannabis news and more. Peace.