Marijuana and CBD oils are all over the Internet right now. I can’t scroll through my RSS feed without seeing at least one article touting it as the next big thing in wellness, or urging me to buy a bath bomb infused with CBD. I won’t lie, it’s not that I’m not tempted, especially by a bath bomb which provides amazing sleep. At this point, even your sparking water fix can be spiked with weed (seriously). There are huge physical and mental wellbeing benefits from the product, and as states begin to legalize recreational marijuana, a growing market for what many view as a holistic treatment for everything from everyday stress, anxiety, depression, to muscle aches and pains. I’ve seen a large number of articles about the oil and its benefits in publications which cater toward women interested in fitness and wellness, but what’s missing are the women of color, and a broader conversation about how white women are benefiting from this recent trend thanks to a whole lot of white privilege.
Let me backup, because I know the concept of white privilege is a point of contention for some. Within the context of the conversation around race and wellness, I’m looking at the racial and gender benefit white women have when it comes to taking part in recreational marijuana. I’m not saying this to malign white women, I too, am a white woman (and sometimes we’re kinda the worst). That said, I believe my responsibility as an ally means I have to take a really hard look at the disparity that exists between women of color and white women, including when it comes to wellness. I believe this strongly because even now, in 2018, there is a huge disparity in health outcomes (including birth outcomes) between white women and women of color (Self is taking a stand) I am all for the legalization of marijuana, that is not up for argument for me. However, as laws change, and states become more lenient in their possession laws, we need to take a real hard look at the population most devastated by the legacy of the War on Drugs. The similar push to rid the world of marijuana has been, much like the War on Drugs, largely unsuccessful. This recent push for the legalization of the drug for recreational use is just one of the backlash. However, what I see missing from the conversation in women’s wellness is how marijuana, with its increasing legal status, impacts black communities. The black population, and specifically black men face harsher sentences for low-level non-violent drug offenses such as possession of marijuana than whites. (ACLU) So it’s understandable when people in the community cite fear of incarceration as a reason to avoid using even legal medical marijuana. When you have seen families destroyed by extreme prison sentences for simple possession, it seems far to great a risk.
This is why as this wellness trend of CBD oil rubs me the wrong way. Celebrating the legality of marijuana, extolling the virtues of CBD oil feels tone deaf when you think of the number of black men currently serving prison sentences for what is now recreationally legal. I’m not saying I’m not happy that people are benefiting from these changes, or that all white women should feel bad. But, we can, and we should, take a good hard look at how women of color are invisible in the world of wellness, and especially when it comes to recreational marijuana.