Customers at legal medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries will now have the option to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar to help fund Mission Green Alliance, which is working to end federal cannabis prohibition and provide support to people affected by the war on drugs.
Launched by the nonprofit Weldon Project, Mission Green Alliance will promote individual clemencies among the U.S. population of roughly 3,000 people who are currently incarcerated for federal cannabis convictions, most of them on low-level distribution charges.
Mission Green Alliance has launched with support from industry participants including Verano Holdings Corp.
Glass House Brands Inc.
AYR Wellness Inc.
PharmaCann, Sunny Daze, 4Front Ventures Corp.
Missouri Health & Wellness, C21 Investments, Vangst, Headset, Springbig, Treez, Salt, Mattio Communications, Aeropay, Flowhub, Eminence Capital, JW Asset Management and CB1 Capital.
Weldon Angelos, the founder of the Weldon Project, said the option to donate to Mission Green Alliance will eventually be offered at hundreds of retail cannabis outlets operated by the members of the alliance.
“This is a good way for us to get additional funding,” Angelos told MarketWatch. “It also allows consumers to participate in the movement directly.”
Mission Green Alliance will build on the Weldon Project’s work to get people released from jail who were convicted of crimes that are no longer prosecuted under federal law, such as operating a medical-use dispensary that is legal under state law.
Angelos said that April 20, a day when many people celebrate cannabis, is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to reform cannabis laws. On Friday, he plans to visit Washington, D.C., for the Justice Department’s Second Chance Celebration for recipients of federal clemency.
“I’m not super confident about changes coming out of Congress, but I’m hopeful we’ll at least see legislation introduced,” Angelos said. “Tomorrow, the day after 4/20, I’m not as optimistic as I’d like to be about President [Joe] Biden keeping his campaign promise to let people out of prison for cannabis.”
While Biden has pardoned all those serving sentences in federal prison for nonviolent cannabis possession, many others remain behind bars for other nonviolent federal cannabis infractions such as distribution, Angelos said.
Angelos started the Weldon Project after he got out of federal prison in 2016. He had served 13 years of a 55-year sentence for selling $300 worth of pot. Since his release, he’s been a frequent visitor to Washington to drum up support for cannabis reform.
The Weldon Project teamed up with Verano in a campaign to win the release in February of Luke Scarmazzo, who served 14 years of a 22-year prison sentence on federal charges of running a medical cannabis dispensary. His business was legal in the state of California.
Scarmazzo now works with the Mission Green Alliance as an advocate for cannabis reform.
The Weldon Project continues as a 501(c)(3) organization that works with lawmakers, advocacy groups, incarcerated people and the White House on a range of criminal-justice issues. It also advocates for formerly incarcerated drug offenders who were sentenced to prison for nonviolent drug offenses.
Mission Green is one of several nonprofit efforts to win support from cannabis companies via signs in shops and collecting donations at dispensaries.
State licensing bodies have been encouraging cannabis companies to support social-equity programs, hire people of color and operate in neighborhoods affected by the war on drugs.
In New York, for example, all the cannabis dispensary licenses issued so far have gone either to people who were incarcerated on cannabis charges or their family members, or to nonprofits that work with people who were formerly in jail, such as Housing Works.
Some nonprofits working in the cannabis space — many with support from industry members and their customers — include the Last Prisoner Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, the Herbal Rubik’s Cube, the NuLeaf Project and the NORML Foundation.
The Last Prisoner Project on Thursday teamed up with HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project to launch the Pardons to Progress campaign calling for freedom for cannabis prisoners. The effort has drawn backing from comedian Chelsea Handler, actor Susan Sarandon and musical artist Daveed Diggs.