March 8, 2021

ACHEM: The First-ever BIPOC Cannabis Medical Association

March 8, 2021
plant medicine

There is a dire need for serving and repairing the communities most harmed by the war on drugs and cannabis prohibition in so many regards. It should be of utmost priority to both cannabis activists and cannabis professionals (amongst others).

While there are many, MANY ways that cannabis prohibition has played a role in systemic racism and social injustice for these communities, one particular way they have been grossly underserved in the area of health equity. There has never been a clear way to identify pathways to ensure that cannabis medicine (and the economy of cannabis) serves the health equity needs of these communities and society as a whole, or a clear way to educate and promote the professional advancement and economic opportunity for BIPOC healthcare professionals in cannabis….until now.

Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM)

Enter the Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM), a new nonprofit medical association for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) health professionals and healers.

“The Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM)  is a response to ongoing missteps in policy reform and cannabis regulation around reconciling the direct and disproportionate impact of cannabis criminalization on the wellbeing of communities of color. At ACHEM, we recognize an opportunity to leverage the evidence-backed agricultural, industrial, medical, and nutritional uses of cannabis to address many of the medical and socio-ecological problems plaguing BIPOC communities as a direct result of decades of disinvestment and maltreatment under prohibition laws. ACHEM was created to cultivate and support BIPOC healthcare leaders in the advancement of cannabis reform, the integration of cannabis use in medicine, and the assurance that legalization drives the holistic healing of the communities harmed most by the War on Drugs.”

– Dr. Rachel Knox, MD MBA, ACHEM Board Chair

On Saturday, February 27, 2021 ACHEM (Ay-Kem) launched with a Virtual Open House and Launch Party. The first professional association of its kind, ACHEM promises to empower, uplift, and serve communities disproportionately impacted by the nation’s draconian drug laws and policies using cannabinoid medicine to bridge persistent health and wellness gaps.

The Virtual Open House and Launch Party, ACHEM’s first public event, attracted over a hundred remote participants who joined for an overview of the association, its mission, and the four pillars of the organization – Enrich, Promote, Participate, and Serve. ACHEM’s Board of Directors spoke with conviction and candor, engaging attendees with detailed information about the innovative field of cannabinoid medicine. ACHEM also shared its policy platform and vision for rebuilding communities that have borne the brunt of the aggressive war on drugs, which unfairly targeted people of color.

Dr. Obie, Dr. Rachel Knox, and Dr. Jessica Knox at the ACHEM virtual launch event.

“ACHEM’s message of healing, hope, and equity for Black, Indigenous, Latinx and other communities of color through the expansive lens of cannabis deeply resonated with our attendees,” Dr. Rachel Knox, MD MBA, ACHEM Board Chair said. “This community is eager to learn more about ACHEM, its vision and approach to cannabis as plant-based medicine, and as a root solution to health disparity. We’re thrilled by the response and eager for them to leverage ACHEM through its pillars to advance their respective practices.”

Dr. Ogadinma “Oga” Obie MD is the Board President for ACHEM. She said, “ACHEM willingly shares its acquired knowledge with interested health care professionals. When it comes to legitimate, well-researched cannabinoid medicine, this is the information needed to make them the most competent in their respective fields. Cannabis belongs to the people, particularly communities of color. ACHEM molds well-rounded healthcare practitioners ultimately leading the way to greater health access and health equity for the Black, Indigenous and Latinx communities most harmed by cannabis prohibition and the war on drugs.”

ACHEM brought together medical professionals and students from Black, Indigenous, and Latinx (BIL) communities interested in health equity work in the burgeoning cannabis industry. The association will provide new and currently practicing health professionals with educational resources c and competency training in cannabinoid medicine and endocannabinology, an emerging field in medicine focused on the human endocannabinoid system and its role in the body.

Systemic Racism and Health Equity

Health equity is at the heart of ACHEM’s purpose. For too long, systemic racism has perpetuated negative health outcomes, leading to higher rates of illness and death in communities of color. ACHEM seeks to eliminate inequities by training and empowering individuals entering the field and amplifying the voices of Black and Brown medical professionals. 

Cannabis prohibition has devastated BIL communities, and ACHEM believes that cannabis can be used to heal that damage.

“With an equity-centered, science-informed industry, cannabis medicine can become a tremendous force for good,” says Dr. Knox. “Education, advocacy, regulation, and access can support restoration within communities suffering from years of systemic injustice, opening up tremendous possibilities for advancement. By focusing on BIPOC health practitioners, ACHEM is empowering people of color to be change agents in our own communities.”

For more information about ACHEM, visit their website.

About ACHEM: ACHEM strives to be a reliable and powerful resource of cannabis knowledge by re-defining health equity, combining it with evidence-based scientific research, sharpened critical thinking skills, continuous interaction with innovation and new scientific information, and ethical loyalty to pass our knowledge on to the next generation of all health professionals.

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