‘421 For All’ takes aim at cannabis criminal justice reform


Activists are taking advantage of the day after the country’s biggest weed holiday to spread a message of diversity, inclusion, and restorative justice as legalization at the state and federal level increasingly becomes the law of the land.

“Prohibition only ends once,” said Cohen. “We want to make sure that our intervention encourages policy that guarantees access to those who have been historically criminalized.”

The push for a more equitable marijuana industry begins with the legalization process, 421 For All founder Cristina Buccola told Cannabis Now Wednesday, but shouldn’t end there.

“Cannabis legalization all too frequently omits meaningful criminal justice reforms, fails to repair communities that have borne the brunt of prohibition, doesn’t require diverse economic, ownership and educational opportunities, and forgets to protect patients’ rights and our environment,” said Buccola.

The group will kick off its inaugural fundraising event on April 21 at New York’s Chelsea Music Hall.

“The event is going to be a mixture of spoken presentation from our beneficiary organizations and music from local talent,” said Cohen. “The event will be hosted by Mike Glazer and Mary Jane from Weed + Grub Podcast.”

421 For All is live-streaming the fundraiser for free.

The group’s advocacy for equity and fairness in the cannabis industry comes at a unique moment for marijuana policy in the country.

“The concept of 421 was born out of frustration: mainstream cannabis conversations were failing to address the non-commercial aspects of cannabis legalization, like criminal justice reform,” said Buccola.

States are increasingly legalizing the plant—leading to discussions about what to do about thousands of drug convictions. And some are taking the initiative to right the wrongs of the past.

In Maine, three separate bills which aim to seal or erase marijuana convictions are moving through the statehouse. Across the country, in Washington state, lawmakers in both chambers of the state’s Congress already passed comprehensive legislation that would vacate marijuana convictions for those over 21 at the time of their arrest—over 69,000 cases.

Cohen told Common Dreams that he hopes to see the same thing happen in New York, where he lives.

“Soon we will see dispensaries opening up in communities where local cannabis entrepreneurs were incarcerated,” said Cohen. “We don’t believe that the NYC industry should be able to develop without addressing it’s history of draconian war on drug policies.”

Buccola said that a concentration on profits and business threatened to erase the very real, and important, work that needs to be done for the role of cannabis in criminal justice reform as this pillar of the drug war topples.

“The message of organizations and advocates who have been doing this very work was being drowned out by cannabis revenue talk,” said Buccola. “The answer was to create 421 as a day focused on cannabis justice matters, highlighting the issues that accompany cannabis legalization and the people who are doing this important work.”

“On 4/20, we celebrate the cannabis plant,” she added. “On 4/21 we celebrate the people who are focused on these crucial matters of cannabis justice, amplify their message, and have a call to action to continue the work.”

This post was originally published at commondreams.org and was re-published here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. To read the original, click here.

New slate of canna-themed TV shows

high maintenance

Marijuana is having its moment in the mainstream as TV networks and streaming services alike pick up 420-friendly shows. It hasnt been since Weeds made a big splash on Showtime in 2005 that there’s been such a focus on pot programming.

High Maintenance, one of the most buzzy new cannabis shows, made its HBO debut on Sept. 16. Originally a self-funded web series on Vimeo, the series follows a Brooklyn weed dealer as he makes his rounds in New York and encounters a wide variety of characters. The six-episode season runs through Oct. 21

Then there’s MTV’s Mary + Jane, executive produced by Snoop Dogg and Ted Chung, which debuted on Sept. 5. Like High Maintenance, it focuses on pot dealers, in this case two women who run an L.A. delivery service. The 10-episode season runs through Nov. 7

Cable channels aren’t the only ones interested in cannabis. Buds, a comedy produced by Naomi and Adam Scott (of Parks and Recreation fame) received a script commitment from NBC in 2015. The series centers around the operations of a Denver-based pot shop. It should be on NBC’s lineup in the spring.

Streaming sites are also working on a number of canna-themed shows, such as Netflix’s pot comedy Disjointed, starring Kathy Bates as a cannabis legalization advocate. The series is written and executive produced by Chuck Lorre (of Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory) and David Javerbaum (The Daily Show).

Amazon has tapped comedian Margaret Cho to star in and executive produce the dramedy Highland, which follows a dysfunctional family as they run a dispensary. Cho hasn’t been shy about her enthusiasm for ganja and even has a cut of OG Kush, Margaret Cho-G, named after her.

Also in production is Humboldt, based on Emily Brady’s 2013 book of the same name, starring John Malkovich as the head of a local crime family. Sony TV and Anonymous Content are shopping it around to cable and streaming services.

This post was originally published at freedomleaf.com. Check out Freedom Leaf for this editor’s Word on the Tree column.