Southern University and A&M College has made history as the first HBCU to enter the cannabis industry.
The Louisiana university launched ALAFIA, a line of CBD products, in partnership with Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Baton Rouge and Ilera Holistic Healthcare, according to Forbes.
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is an active ingredient in cannabis, the marijuana plant, according to Harvard. CBD has grown in popularity due to its purported medicinal properties. According to The New York Times, some studies have shown CBD is effective in treating drug-resistant seizures and mental illness. However, the science isn’t conclusive and the FDA has only approved one CBD product.
All 50 states have legalized CBD in varying degrees, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that causes people to feel “high.”
Southern University and Louisiana State University are the two schools in Louisiana licensed by the state to grow medical cannabis, and the historic HBCU is using that permit to get in the business with its corporate partner at a 40-acre facility in Baker, Louisiana.
Southern’s line features two products, Isolate CBD and Full Spectrum CBD, and more will be added in the future. Currently, 500 mg of the product retails for $40 and 1000 mg costs $80.
Alafia means “inner peace” in the Yoruba language, officials involved in the deal say.
“We are witnessing history,” HBCU alum Chanda Macias, who is part of the corporate partnership team, said in a statement. “Southern University partnered with us to bring this product line to market, making them the first Historically Black College University (HBCU) to launch a CBD line… When you think of the rich history Southern University holds here in Louisiana, this launch only mirrors the monumental impacts this higher education institution has made in this country. As an alum of an HBCU, Howard University, I am truly humbled and proud to be a part of this historic moment.”
Ray Belton, former president of the Southern University System, believes Alafia is an extension of the institution’s mission.
“This is an exciting time for healthcare and business here in the state of Louisiana, and Southern University is honored to be a part of it all,” Belton told WAFB. “Southern has been a leader in agriculture and the sciences for 140 years while staying true to its mission of access. This CBD venture with Ilera encompasses all of that. We look forward to advancing this vision and serving as a model for other universities.”
The move has generated positive buzz for the university.
“That’s right SU!!! Cash in on this industry,” commenter Colette Baloney wrote on Facebook.
“Is the partnership company on the U.S. Stock Exchange? This could be a very good venture for investors,” said Aubry ‘Max’ Turner, another Facebook commenter.
Alafia Healthcare is currently available in seven locations across Lousiana.