Now more than ever, the cannabis plant has been in the news. Recently, the conversation centered on athlete Sha’Carri Richardson, who was denied participation on the U.S. Olympic team after testing positive for marijuana. Richardson says she used marijuana to help her cope with her feelings after her mother’s death.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the U.S. are “more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness, hopelessness, and feeling like everything is an effort.” Several cannabis industry insiders and experts have supported the theory that cannabis can help with both emotions and physical ailments.
The conversation about Black women’s health and cannabis — and specifically one of its properties, CBD — is not new to the founders of Washington, D.C.-based Brown Girl Jane, a Black-owned wellness company with CBD as the star ingredient in its products. Brown Girl Jane launched in 2020 and derives its CBD from USA-grown hemp, a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant.
“Plant-based medicine is not new to us. I mean, we’ve been doing it for eons and eons as people of color. But also with that, wanting to just really help women understand that we don’t have to live like this,” said Brown Girl Jane co-founder Tai Beauchamp. “If you look at Black women, we suffer disproportionately high rates of anxiety, of depression. A lot of times in our community, the importance is to pour out to others and leaving yourself — especially as a Black woman what happens a lot of the times — is that you leave yourself for last.” added fellow co-founder Malaika Jones Kebede.
Offering a variety of oils, gummies and body butters with CBD, Brown Girl Jane speaks specifically to women of color. “We are by far one of the few, one of the first. And that is again one of the reasons why we started and why we’re so unapologetic about what we were doing and how we were centering women of color. Because we saw the need, and we saw that we weren’t spoken to and we saw that the access wasn’t there for this really amazing, dynamic plant could be used in so many ways.” Jones Kebede said.
But what exactly is CBD and how can it be used? Sandra Guynes, a registered jnurse not affiliated with Brown Girl Jane, explains. “CBD and THC are the most popular or most present cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. And we know that CBD, although it does have all these medicinal values and properties, doesn’t have the psychoactive effects that THC does. So a lot of people are more open to trying and CBD at times because they don’t want to feel high,” Guynes said. Also called The Kush Nurse, Guynes founded the Cannabis Nurses of Color Connect (CNOC), and is a member of several organizations like the American Cannabis Nurses Association and the Minority Cannabis Business Association. She advocates for the use of cannabis and the science behind it.
“People who are experiencing pain can benefit significantly from CBD, people who are experiencing anxiety, depression,” Guynes said. “It’s very good for inflammation, so a lot of people with inflammatory conditions like lupus and autoimmune conditions. A lot of autoimmune conditions cause inflammatory processes and we found a lot of benefits with that — arthritis,” she said.
While Guynes supports the use of CBD, especially long term, she says science also proves amazing results with a combination of both CBD and THC. Brown Girl Jane extracts all traces of THC from its CBD, backed by lab reports, so that their consumers can have an experience free of the feeling of “highs” or intoxication.
CBD is currently legal in all 50 states with varying regulations, and many states do allow some form of medical marijuana with THC. The industry, however, is still very restrictive, with few Black-owned brands and an often negative stigma — especially when it comes to THC. “I think we need more providers that look like the people they serve so that we can have more of these conversations. And we need more of us going into the community and having those conversations to help change that stigma,” Guynes said.
“It definitely is different for us as a brand to be in this CBD category that is a mostly white male and that has fewer than 4 percent people with color in the space,” Beauchamp commented. “What we endeavor to do is to be a shining example and resource and support for women like us to say that you deserve to be whole and to be well.”
Brown Girl Jane’s products can be found at browngirljane.com and Guynes be found at thekushnurse.com treating a variety of ailments through plant medicine and education.