This organization is doing much-needed work on criminal justice and diversity in the weed industry.
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Cage-Free cannabis is a Los Angeles-based organization with two critical roles in the emerging U.S. cannabis industry: Cage-Free Consulting, which advocates for social responsibility within the cannabis industry, and Cage-Free Repair, which is the non-profit branch of the organization that actually helps people expunge and/or seal their criminal records
‘Black people have traditionally been almost 4x as likely to be criminalized for participating in the cannabis industry—whether as a consumer or on the supply side. Even though we know that across racial and ethnic groups, consumption of cannabis is relatively stable and equal. So in spite of all of that, then when we look at the current industry, we know that participation of those communities of color is relatively low when we’re talking about the new, licensed industry. A 2016 BuzzFeed survey estimated that only 1% of cannabis dispensaries were owned by African Americans. So, that’s a huge problem. It’s a moral problem, it’s an economic problem, and it’s one of the central problems that we set out to solve.
Cage-Free started when co-founder Adam Vine saw the cannabis industry was excluding certain communities.
‘I saw that as this industry was really developing — more jobs, more profits were being created, but I didn’t see them coming back to those communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. So, that’s why we set up Cage-Free as an organization that could address that problem. That could serve as this bridge between the cannabis industry and those organizations doing that vital work of repair.’
Cage-Free helps coordinate and plan events like National Expungement Week, where the organization helped 298 people get their records expunged
“We know from a 2014 Stanford study that expunging your record creates about over $10,000 of benefit in the first year alone. Most of that accrues to the person who’s applying for it. Some of that also exists on the government side. So we’ve been able to create over $3 million of economic impact just in this first year, and that will continue to accrue as the years go by.’
It also licenses its logo to brands to raise money for reparation work
‘We’ve also just launched a pilot program in Washington state. That’s a collaboration with a cultivator there, a dispensary, and a band. The cultivator grew a new strain, named it after the band, and placed it in this one dispensary, Lux Pot Shop, and we licensed our logo to this collaboration. So we wanted to use our logo as a seal of social responsibility and commitment to these ideas of equity, justice, and repair. So that whenever this strain is sold, all the profits from it will come to us to invest in a reparative justice project in Seattle. First, by building a reparative justice council, and then by distributing further funds to uphold these values of equity, justice, and repair.’
While much of the work Cage-Free currently does is on the West coast, as more and more states legalize weed, Vine believes equity should be a concern and it should be addressed in the language of the legislation
‘This past year, we’ve done a good job at elevating this discussion and inserting these ideas that when you’re talking about cannabis and you’re talking about this emerging licensed industry, we need to be focused on equity, justice, and repair. Expungement programs need to be built into new cannabis policies. Social equity programs need to be built into new cannabis policies. And community reinvestment needs to be built into these new cannabis policies as well. That’s the baseline from which everything else should proceed.’
#Weed #Cannabis #Legalization #California #WaronDrugs #SocialJustice
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