The Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center, part of the Southern University System, together with Ilera Holistic Healthcare, today became the nation’s first historically Black university to launch its own THC medical cannabis products.
The university and Ilera share one of two cannabis licenses in the state of Louisiana. The launch of the brand, called AYO, comes on the heels of Louisiana’s extension of its own medical marijuana program.
“This is yet another great and historic day for the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center,” said Orlando McMeans, chancellor of the Ag Center. “The goal of this program is to provide quality medicine for the citizens of the state of Louisiana through education, research and outreach, all of which are included in the mission of the Ag Center. The release of AYO, along with our CBD products, will enable us to help patients better manage their medical issues and improve their quality of life.”
The AYO line joins the ALAFIA product brand, a hemp-derived tincture developed by Southern and Ilera. ALAFIA launched on January 25 in the Louisiana market, making Southern University the first HBCU producer in both cannabis and hemp, a release from the university states. ALAFIA will be available online nationwide later this summer.
“With the launch of both CBD and THC medical marijuana products, Southern continues to set precedents in innovation,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System. “In addition to providing healthcare options for Louisiana residents, our valued partner, Ilera, is able to hire local talent. All of this impacts our state’s economy directly while expanding the Southern University brand.”
According to a release, Southern’s medical marijuana program is part of the Ag Center’s Southern Institute for Medicinal Plants, helmed by Janana Snowden, the institute’s director and an assistant professor of agriculture at Southern University Baton Rouge. The institute and Ag Center have long researched plants such as hibiscus in addition to cannabis, the release states.
“The very important research we conduct on medicinal plants helps us to address health problems that affect communities,” Snowden said. “Our products derived from medicinal plants offer patients another way to alleviate symptoms. We are proud that we can be part of many potential solutions.”
AYO has been launched at a time that Louisiana has expanded laws to potentially allow more patients to choose medical marijuana for treatment, according to Southern. On June 11, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed into law ACT No 286, allowing any state-licensed physician to recommend medical marijuana to any of their patients to find relief for any condition.
“ACT No 286 makes clear that Louisiana residents want full access to medical cannabis and the right to discuss alternative healthcare options with their doctors,” said Chanda Macias, chief executive officer for Ilera Holistic Healthcare. “We are grateful to the entire state legislature in welcoming our input throughout the long history of this bill and listening to the voices of our patients, advocates, doctors and industry colleagues. We had one common goal, which was to bring greater access to medicine for all patients in our great state.”
According to the university's release, AYO is scientifically formulated, lab tested, pesticide free, and only available in the state of Louisiana. To learn more about AYO and cannabis medicine, visit www.ileraholistichealthcare.com .