Happy birthday to Cannabis for Black Lives (CfBL), celebrating its one-year anniversary of galvanizing the industry for Black-led organizations and communities! Born out of Cannaclusive, a multifaceted nationwide collective that provides resources for BIPOC-owned cannabis businesses, CfBL is a coalition of cannabis companies dedicated to amplifying Black voices in the space. Led by a fully Black and Latinx board headed by Cannaclusive co-founder Mary Pryor, and with daily operations run by Cannaclusive Director of Community and Strategy Kassia Graham, CfBL focuses on accountability measures, corporate hiring, and support for community organizations that make a tangible impact. In a very eventful and successful first twelve months, CfBL raised $118,290 for social equity initiatives and Black-owned operations.
This week, CfBL announced its most recent partnership with Justice Joints to elevate opportunities for those negatively impacted by the War on Drugs. The match is ideal: Justice Joints, from the cultivation giant Canndescent, is the first standalone brand that directs 100 percent of its proceeds to prisoner release, expungement and social equity reforms in the cannabis community. It’s well documented that communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs – 3-4 Black people are imprisoned to every 1 white person – and that such factors as criminal charges hinder job seekers’ ability to work in the cannabis industry, or entrepreneurs to receive licenses to operate legally in states that have cannabis programs. Justice Joints seeks to rectify these issues through campaigns for national record expungement, which would release 40,000 incarcerated citizens from prison (held on nonviolent cannabis charges) and allow them greater access to resources including housing, financial assistance, and the right to vote.
A young enterprise like CfBL, having launched in November 2020, Justice Joints offers 1-gram pre-rolls packed with Canndescent’s signature high-quality indica, sativa and hybrid strains. Since its inception, the brand has joined forces with Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit bringing restorative justice to the fight to free cannabis incarcerees. Within the first six months of its launch, Justice Joints raised over $20,000 for Last Prisoner Project, helping to fund various programs for expungement, release, and reentry efforts. Through the new collaboration, Justice Joints will donate 50 percent of its proceeds to benefit CfBL in its mission, while continuing to aid Last Prisoner Project. (Currently CfBL and Last Prisoner Project have no formal affiliation, although Justice Joints partners with both organizations.)
During its first full year of operations, CfBL supported Black leadership in cannabis on national and local levels. Every two months, the coalition spotlights a different organization in its ecosystem to create pathways for Black communities to heal from the effects of the War on Drugs. Among its featured organizations are Supernova Women, a women-led nonprofit that helped the city of Oakland, California establish the nation’s first cannabis social equity program for business owners; Equitable Opportunities Now, which ensures fair representation for people of color within the industry; The Hood Incubator, which mobilizes and educates Black entrepreneurs to seek economic opportunities in the cannabis space; and Copper House, a Black and queer-owned business that provides a cannabis-friendly event space for education and activism in Detroit (it’s also a cozy bed-and-breakfast billed as “a home away from home”). Currently, CfBL is honoring Our Dream (Our Academy), a socially inclusive workshop, mentorship and resource program that empowers people from the targeted communities of the War on Drugs.
Companies of all sizes, sectors, and geographies are invited to join CfBL in making the cannabis industry a more equitable place to be. As Kassia Graham noted at the coalition’s launch, CfBL will continue to generate “a more inclusive range of employees, contractors, distributors, suppliers, representation of BIPOC… [and] more informed member organizations earnestly doing the work to support BIPOC in cannabis.” We can’t wait to see where the next year takes them.
For more about Cannabis for Black Lives (CfBL), visit cannabisforblacklives.com or follow @cannabisforblacklives on Instagram. To learn more about Justice Joints, visit justicejoints.co or follow @justicejoints on Instagram.
Featured image: Kassia Graham, Director of Community and Strategy for Cannaclusive, runs daily operations for Cannabis for Black Lives. (C) Cannaclusive