My favorite rolling tray is actually a comic book about a Black superhero named JroMan, who receives his powers from an unknown strain of cannabis. Created by Ejiro Ederaine, the JroMan Comic Book Universe is a mirror of America’s current reality—and that reflection is a stark reminder that there is so much work that still needs to be done.
“JroMan was created to express my views on cannabis and the world, while also using my passion for anime, creativity, and music to create a world of my own that I hope people enjoy,” shares Ederaine with High Times.
Born in Pomona, CA and raised in Corona, Ederaine is the product of a Nigerian father and a mother with roots in the Mississippi Delta. Raised to always do the right thing and be respectful, there was always a rebel that lived in him.
“I’m not a rebel just for the hell of it but because of the ‘why’. If you want me to go left, [then] tell me why. I need the reasoning,” says Ederaine. “I’m a firm believer [that] there’s a thousand ways to skin a cat. Your way of doing things may just be your way, not the right way, and definitely not the only way.”
Ederaine was raised in an environment where his family members believed the usual cannabis stereotypes. When you begin to read the comic book, you see Malcolm Hash build a connection with his late grandfather, who he soon discovers was in the “cannabis closet”. When he begins to dig through a box of his grandfather’s old things, he finds an old Army jacket with “Smoke’Em” written on the back. Upon further exploration of the jacket, he finds a Dynasty 5 patch on the inside and a cannabis seed stashed away in the pocket. Eventually, the jacket and the contents within it will become the source of JroMan’s powers that will help him defeat The Robotic Un-Manned President—aka T.R.U.M.P—and stop the cannaban that is plaguing California.
And in so many ways, wearing the jacket and fighting for change is Hash’s way of creating a world where people like his grandfather don’t have to live in the “cannabis closet”, and in this new reality that he is creating, the stereotypes about cannabis lovers don’t exist.
“I believe fair access to cannabis is one of the things that must happen in order for the African-American community to get over the damage the War on Drugs has done to our community,” Ederaine says. “No one is afraid of alcohol or the liquor industry. People understand the ramifications of drinking and driving but aren’t afraid of the actual substance. Due to decades of unjust laws and policies, our community is horrified by cannabis. We immediately correlate jail, illegal activity, and immorality with cannabis and this is not the case. Fair, safe access to cannabis will help erode this [stereotypical] thinking, which will help more African-Americans get into this industry that can create generational wealth in our community.”
Racism is an issue that we all are continuously working out in our minds and in our daily lives, and it shows up in the ways we express ourselves to the world. JroMan isn’t just a comic book about defeating Trump-inspired AI, but it is a story about solving all the problems that surround the U.S. legalization paradox. In the story, you watch the government avoid the hard questions. You also realize that there are no immediate solutions to the problems that we are facing, and it takes the larger community being on one accord.
“There needs to be an honest admittance of racism, stereotypes, and stigma when it comes to the mention of BIPOC cultures and existences,” says Mary Pryor the Co-Founder of Cannaclusive. “Then an obvious acknowledgement of blindspots and a willingness to listen to the people most affected by this due to white privilege. This seems like a tall order but most of us are unable to get past step one when it comes to systemic issues of racism and its form in our society.”
JroMan paints a hauntingly realistic picture of America’s current state. The two most important questions that the series pose are: what is the problem with marijuana? And how do we make it to the place where we aren’t fighting the government to get high and feel good? Continuously we find ourselves in a state where the public’s relationship with cannabis is questioned, and the people who deserve to develop a relationship with the plant the most are left out.
Ederaine believes that the only way to fix the disparities we face is to give African-Americans access to the cannabis industry through licensing for dispensaries, grows, and distribution. Not only that, he is using his words and collaborating with other artists to help fight the stigma that most minorities experience everyday.
JroMan is packed with so much goodness. From mystery cannabis strains and a Migos-inspired rap group called the Treegos to secret smoking sessions to the AI robots to try to insight violence and fear, JroMan is a must read.
“I believe people like JroMan because it’s authentic and pure. I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m just stating my opinion on things in a diverse, new, comic book [universe],” Ederaine says. “It’s a form of expression that I love and is therapeutic, and the fact people like it is icing on the cake.”