Black farmers are not just emerging in the hemp-growing industry of Atlanta, Georgia, but they are also making their mark. In a field where blacks have historically been criminalized for even using cannabis, Atlanta is seeing a spike in the numbers of black farmers becoming an essential cornerstone to Georgia’s hemp-farming industry.

During World War II, hemp was once a crop that the U.S. Department of Agriculture highly encouraged farmers to plant. During that time, hemp seeds were liberally given to those individuals who would step up and stay home to farm the plant. Drafts into the war were even deferred for these hemp farmers. However, the 1970s saw an uptick in government efforts to criminalize cannabis in the United States, particularly following a series of recorded tape conversations from the oval office between then-president Richard Nixon and Raymond P. Shafer, a former prosecutor. According to Bobby Black of Leaf Nation, “squashing the hippie and Black Power movements was at the top of his agenda”. Thus began the war on drugs and it continued into the 1980s, heavily impacting the black community in turn. 

Now, fast-forward to modern times. Across the board, cannabis legislation has greatly changed. Each state has its own variation of cannabis legalization, but in Georgia, both medicinal and recreational marijuana use are legal. Hemp growing is increasing and young black farmers like Sedrick Rowe are making their presence known in the industry. Rowe cites the “possibility of economic self-sufficiency and even generational wealth” as his reasons for becoming a part of the hemp farming industry. He aims to be an example for other black farmers and an inspiration for them to become a part of this agricultural movement. 

If support of the hemp plant and farming industry are in your interests, be sure to check with your local laws and ordinances to see how you can get involved. Cannabis legislation is rapidly changing across the nation. Personally, I hope to see the work of these young farmers have a lasting beneficial impact on their local area, as well as for their future generations.