Looking for cannabis organizations to rally around and support during these challenging times? These advocacy groups are tackling tough issues from different angles.
In response to stay-at-home orders and nighttime police curfews, three marijuana nonprofits are finding creative ways to fulfill their missions. In an exclusive story with Green Entrepreneur, all have agreed to reveal their strategies for successfully managing the stresses of the pandemic and protests during these unprecedented times.
#1 Last Prisoner Project (LPP)
Andrew and Steve DeAngelo founded the Last Prisoner Project alongside other industry leaders to help those imprisoned for cannabis-related charges. LPP’s mission is to “get every cannabis-charged prisoner out of prison,” says Andrew DeAngelo, longtime cannabis advocate and co-founder of Harborside Health Center
Freedom and rehabilitation
LPP advocates for and educates about marijuana incarceration, pushing to improve living conditions for prisoners and helping them reintegrate into society by supplying access to an apartment, job, and professional training courses.
Their service programs include pro bono legal services, including efforts to secure prisoners’ release and executive clemency to expunge their records. This is often a complex problem, requiring support from the governor or the federal level, according to DeAngelo.
Once prisoners are out of jail, LPP offers further guidance with re-entry programs where they can find help.
“We are also in the late stages of designing and beginning to implement a robust reentry program to build pathways to employment in the industry for directly-impacted individuals,” according to Mary Bailey, LPP’s executive director, adding that LLP “engages in reentry services on a case-by-case basis for our constituents.”
During the spread of COVID-19, the Last Prisoner Project ramped up its workload, focusing its resources and energy on helping prisoners access medical care/supplies, paying bills, and scheduling visitations.
“We’ve done a lot of activism to try to get prisoners masks and hand sanitizer and just protect PPE [personal protective equipment.],” says DeAngelo.
He claims this has been problematic because “many of the shenanigans were the guards and guys [taking] the toilet paper, and they hoard things. Because they’re scared of these prisons or incubators for the virus, a lot of prison guards. It’s not just the inmates.”
LPP gives prisoners a small financial donation to buy sanitation products; separately, they also try to expedite the release of at-risk and special needs prisoners, according to Bailey.
One person for whom they’re still advocating is 68-year old, nonviolent offender Michael Thompson. Given the maximum sentence of 40-60 years. He’s missed the death of his mother, father, and son while maintaining a good reputation in prison.
He’s also at risk for COVID-19 due to having Type 2 diabetes.
Activism for protestors
Legal Prisoner Project is providing legal representation to those arrested during the George Floyd protests.
Says DeAngelo, “There’s a lot of lawyers out in all of these urban areas, maybe even suburban areas in the United States, that are offering pro bono assistance to the protesters. So LPP is helping to facilitate some of that activity. Our executive directors, also an attorney, were in the street today doing some of that, too.”
DeAngelo says support for LPP is growing due to heightened awareness of the racial issues in the justice system. These protests bring to light the racial profiling of African Americans for marijuana charges.
How you can get involved
Brands or retailers have several avenues to team up with LPP. The Partners for Freedom program offers incentives for different levels of donation, including the opportunity to add your logo to brand packaging or products themselves. This signals to consumers that the brand is directly aligned with a nationally popular movement.
Also, the Roll It Up for Justice program offers customers the opportunity to donate to LPP at their donation store’s checkout.
- Ocean Grown Extracts is linking its new brand, Evidence, to the cause, as is CannaCraft’s new brand, Farmer & the Felon.
- LPP is working on a new flavor with Wana Brands with partial profits being donated to the Last Prisoner Project.
- My Bud Vase is donating $15 for every purchase of their product called The DeAngelo, named after our co-founder, Steve DeAngelo.
- According to Kris Krane, president of 4front Ventures, his dispensary is partnering with LPP’s “give back” programs: “We have donation jars for LPP in our project. We piloted that here at our trauma store,” he says adding,” Unfortunately, it was the one that was raided last week. Currently shut down, that we rebuilt.” Krane says, “We have an advocacy station at that Chicago store that we’ve essentially given to the LPP, so customers can donate some time to write letters to people who are currently incarcerated for a kind of expensive digital project. Other materials are put together by LPP.
Published: June 15, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News