Hi. My name is Bryan McAllister. If you’re a long-time reader of High There, you may recognize my name and face from a lot of our informational and how-to articles; “
I consider myself both privileged and very lucky to have made High There my profession in that time, and take a lot of pride in the work I do here, helping to educate and inform about a topic that still has a lot of common misconceptions — and unlearned information — to discuss.
“Bryan McAllister” is not my name. Nor is that an actual photograph of me used for my profile. (Thank you
No matter the role I have taken on at High There, I have always insisted on anonymity.
Because I was born in Mississippi.
This is the first in a series of articles about cannabis use, cultivation, and social perceptions in the Southern reaches of the United States.
I was raised in a place about as Deep South as you can go without getting sand in your shoes from the Gulf Coast and lived many years in the heart of downtown Jackson — a place known for being one of the
If you’re reading this article, and have read
Mississippi in particular finds itself in a unique position. While the state is majority white-populated, it’s major city centers
While cannabis possession was “decriminalized” in Mississippi
With the above in mind, it might make sense as to why I prefer keeping my cannabis coverage, writing and use under wraps. Though I am privileged enough not to be either a minority or of the lowest income brackets, I can assure first-hand that laws enforcing cannabis prohibition are used heavily against those outside of under-privileged demographics as well, even if on a lesser scale. As a dominating force, drug prohibition has historically been lead by white leadership and citizens, but this same group is also not protected from the laws they enact (only generally by the system that upholds them).
However as Black population has begun to turn to Black leadership in urban areas, attitudes toward cannabis use — and its criminality — have begun to change as well. First with state capitol Jackson
In 2020, Mississippi citizens — on a ballot initiative — approved a medical cannabis law. Not just a law but a surprisingly
Mississippi state leadership then proceeded to not only invalidate the ballot measure after it had passed, but also struck down
Notably, though: While the replacement medical cannabis bill has passed, the right for citizens to place measures on state-wide ballots
Tales such as these are not uncommon through the Southern states. And it is that sort of duality that will be a large focus of these articles — stories about both progress and regression, about how some things change, some things remain the same, and how very old places find themselves adjusting to things that are new. Cannabis legalization and decriminalization both help with social justice issues… but just how much? Are these changes deep enough to be long lasting? Or is the quick fix of a puff just another way of offering placation, while the same systemic troubles still prowl hungrily right behind the smoke?
In this series, we’ll be interviewing individuals from a wide spectrum of cannabis use and production, and across multiple states within the American South; we’ll delve into how these changes have affected local citizens, what they may mean for financial opportunities and how the changing legality of cannabis use impacts minority and underprivileged communities — for both good and for ill.
It is my hope to showcase a wide variety of experiences and voices, including some that our readers from outside of the Southern states may not be familiar with. It’s important to remember: We — the South — are not a monolith. Jackson, Mississippi is as different from Lexington, Kentucky as San Fransisco is from Dallas, Texas. No one state or city is exactly the same, and there are stories to tell from many places across the South, each state with its own unique identities, local laws, cultures and business practices.
I hope you’ll come with me as I try to shine a light on a place — for ill and good alike — I truly love. I look forward to sharing it all with you.
Next: We speak with Ray Holbrook, the owner of Kush Vibez, a chain of cannabis and CBD dispensaries located through-out the Deep South; he shares his thoughts on social equality, navigating legal pathways, the struggles of being a minority business owner and the joys of Southern cooking, in our next Red State Green.