And we wholeheartedly agree.
For a while, many felt that 2020 deserved a redo. We lost Kobe Bryant, Pop Smoke, the coronavirus is incessantly generating a damning impact, and most recently- another black life was lost at the hands of law enforcement. George Floyd. Even with the world shut down, stay-at-home orders issued, the requirement of masks, and social distancing, tragedy knows no bounds when it comes to the black community. Through the COVID side-effect of stillness, people globally are fed all the way up, including canna-brand Thirty Three Degrees North.
A fight for Black Lives Matter is a fight to end the War on Drugs. Make no mistake.
Since 1971, when Nixon vilified marijuana to be “public enemy number one,” law enforcement has been actively targeting members of black and brown communities through an initiative originally created to discourage the production of the plant. (At least, that’s the story they tried to sell.)
That’s years of structural racism and militarization of city, county, and state departments, purposely designed make black people the enemy. Literally, Nixon’s administration’s words, not mine. His former domestic policy chief said it in a Harper’s Magazine interview.
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.”John Ehrlichman, former domestic policy chief + Watergate co-conspirator
Of course they did.
33 legal states plus D.C. later, the sentencing disparities along with the arrests and convictions of black individuals remain overwhelmingly unreal. The criminal justice system continues to fail us, escalating the need for reform now to undo the implicit biases and racial ideologies woven within the hemp paper of this country’s Constitution. Black people are about four times more likely to get arrested and one out of five black men are serving time for marijuana, while several white and non-POC continue to bountifully profit off of it.
The coronavirus epidemic exposed the many holes in our country’s fabric. The biggest slap in the face: Cannabis deemed an “essential item” when there are thousands currently sitting in prisons, unprotected from COVID— for marijuana. All the while, taxpayers state-to-state are paying billions to keep our brothers and sisters locked up. The personal loss that ensues after being caught with even the tiniest bit of marijuana is damaging it itself. As the good brother Hasan Minhaj eloquently lays out on Netflix’s Patriot Act: The Legal Marijuana Industry – the game is very rigged and pretty racist.
There is so much work to do.
Which is why in the wake of everything, the brand’s Director of East Coast Sales and Operations, Sean, felt that in addition to taking action by writing letters to legislators, protesting on the ground, and donating to bailout funds, brands in the cannabis industry should also take public stands against the oppressors of these communities. The people need to know where their favorite canna-companies stand. After all, the legal marijuana market size is predicted to grow to an estimated $76.3 B by 2027. You read that right. And trust, you’d want to know whose pockets your bread is going to.
Which is why we fight.
In an open letter for Canna Culture Connect to publish, Sean says,
“It is with a heavy heart that I feel it necessary to comment on the current state of events. Our country has a long history of systematic injustice. Thirty Three Degrees North is outraged and saddened by the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor , Ahmaud Arbery and the countless injustices against the Black community that have lead us to where we are today. We stand unwavering in support of Black Lives Matter and of rapid social and criminal justice reform.
The Black community has been unjustly incarcerated for years in regards to cannabis and the War On Drugs. Even now, in the wake of its mainstream acceptance white privilege is extremely prevalent whether it’s someone like me going on a subway with an ounce in my backpack, to a entrepreneur applying for legal cannabis licensing.
We hope that as our nation moves to legalize and tax marijuana that certain issues will be at the forefront of all legislation. This includes the undoing of mass incarceration, the expungement of records for marijuana related charges and continued support of Black-owned business applying for licensing. Additionally, funds received through taxation should be allocated to communities of color that were torn apart by unjust police practices and federal legal tactics.
As challenging as it is to face these horrific recent events along with the countless years of criminalization, marginalization, state-sanctioned violence and police brutality, I feel it is something that must be met with vigor, clarity, and endurance. I do not for a moment deny my privilege as a white male. I recognize my responsibility to act through self reflection, donations, tough conversations, and marching along side true patriots who believe in justice for all humans regardless of the color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation.
The energy is undeniable across the globe. The quiet park that I walk through everyday is now brimming with thousands of beautiful like-minded people fighting for a better tomorrow. Instead of seeing the normal daily posts of people’s looks and habits, there are countless calls to action against the brutality and heartache of the current events of our time. We will not stop for anything less than a total transformation. We demand a world that treats every person with love and equality.
Love is the master plan.
That licensing Sean was talking about is pertaining to the fact that five white-owned companies dominate 67% of the industry because of their ability to vertically integrate and hold licenses. Every single license, from growing to cultivation to processing to sale, needs to be on deck otherwise, no business for you. And that “expungement of records,” part is super important if we’re talking reparative justice since many can’t find work, buy homes, or enjoy other liberties because of something as little as a joint in some cases. Immigrants are often a target as deportation is almost definite in this 2020 prohibitionist era. Finally, to Sean’s call for a need for more black cannabrand support: There is only one black-owned dispensary on the East Coast. And it’s in Boston. So, yea. We need that. (It’s called Pure Oasis!)
Back on the ground on the West Coast, Sean continues to protest with the people while preparing for the launch of their new strains. If you’re unfamiliar with Thirty Three Degrees North, it’s most likely ’cause it’s super exclusive, working closely with Cali’s top growers. Once inducted, members get invites to events, access to priority offers and exclusive tours of where the magic is cultivated– when it’s safe to do so again.
Some of Thirty Three Degrees North’s top strains include Miami OG, Purple Punch, and my personal fave, Forbidden Fruit. With everything going on, rolling up a fat spliffy of their potent Indica-leaning hybrid was necessary. Lord knows that’s how all of this sin started, so it was only right. (Also, come back next week for their New Strain Alerts!)
In the meantime, check out CannaClusive’s list of bail funds by city, so you can donate and educate yourself. If you’re in a state that has put legalization on hold, figure out why you want it to be legal. Like Thirty Three Degrees North stated, it is imperative that at the very least, states release those convicted and expunge their records, so those affected can get a fair shot.
We’re fighting for George Floyd. We’re fighting for Breonna Taylor. We’re fighting for every single man or woman who lost their life at the hands of police or law enforcement. We are fighting for those and the families of those whose lives are ruined by the War on Drugs. We are fighting for our right to breathe.
While it’s legal, every. single. person. in prison for it, should be free.