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Cannabis has many healing properties and when used to combat anxiety, pain and symptoms of chronic illness, many Black women have shared that using it as part of a health and wellness routine can have life changing benefits.

During the 2021 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, panelists Michele Harrington, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Foria Wellness, a wellness company that sits at the intersection of intimacy and cannabis, Dr. Safiya Lyn-Lassiter, the founder of Ask Dr. Lyn, a South Florida based company that helps people acquire their medical marijuana card, and Mary Pryor, the co-founder of Cannaclusive, an organization created to facilitate fair representation of minority cannabis consumers, sat down together for a powerful discussion on the positive impacts of normalizing medical marijuana in the Black community.

The women spoke candidly about how positively their success with cannabis as healing has been received by their peers and the community thus far.

“[Cannabis] is a medicine,” says Pryor. “And I think that we have to speak to that more. We have to be more honest about how health and equality affects us across the board, especially as Black women, and what education around this plant can really do.”

Spreading the word is a critical component, explains Pryor, who has been very vocal about using cannabis to help manage her Crohne’s disease.

“There are so many things that are changing every day with how the science works and we have to try to educate each other on a regular basis and not be afraid anymore,” Pryor adds.

After discovering the positive benefits of using cannabis products to help combat her anxiety during the pandemic, Harrington shared the company’s products with some of her close girlfriends and found that they also saw improvements from using cannabis products. Convinced more Black women need to know about the alternative, Harrington reached out to Foria Wellness to offer her services to partner on supporting the popular intimacy brand’s diversity approach.

“Everybody was raving about their pain relief and using the tonic for their anxiety,” says Harrington. “And I pitched to Foria and said, you’re not leaning into this multi-cultural market. We don’t know about you. I pitched to them and they created a space for me. I pretty much pulled up my seat to the table.”

And we have to keep pulling up to those tables to counterbalance the narrative, insists Pryor.

“There are a lot of stereotypes and things that were told to us about our use of this plant, that simply isn’t true and it’s been kind of used against us in terms of criminalization and not given us a chance to have operational businesses or be included in this industry,” she explains. “But when you think about who’s in jail and who’s seen as the bad guy it’s mostly Black and brown people.”

 Both women shared their hopes for how Black women can continue to propel the momentum of this movement forward, as both consumers and entrepreneurs.

“My wellness hope for Black women is conversation and intergenerational sharing and downloading of what we need to live better, be better and want better,” says Pryor. “There are many things that may not have been taught to us given how we’ve grown up, so we have a lot of catching up to do on a regular basis—the willingness and the intent is what matters.”

Harrington agrees.

“My wellness hope for Black women is for us to be intentional with our time and making it a routine to have some sort of me time,” shared Harrington. “If we’re not making time for ourselves and being available and present, it’s not going to allow us to be available or present for anyone else. And also, spreading the word [about cannabis as a tool for healing] and continuing to touch other people so that we’re continuously spreading the message and changing the narrative.”

Watch the full conversation above.

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