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Ben & Jerry’s Stands Out From Companies Just Trying To Make Money From 4/20

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Ben & Jerry’s wants to remind people this 4/20 that hundreds of thousands of people are still getting arrested for non-violent marijuana offenses.

As a growing number of companies compete to win over consumers with weed-themed promotions and social media gimmicks surrounding the cannabis holiday, the ice cream giant is pointing out ongoing racial disparities in marijuana enforcement—including in states that have legalized it.

“Happy 4/20, everyone! Now that pot is legal in 33 states and counting, it’s a pretty heady moment for stoner culture. Fans of cannabis can celebrate 4/20 openly and in style in more places than ever before,” they company wrote in a blog post on Friday. “And even if you’re not in a state that legalized pot, there’s a still a pretty good chance that the cops won’t hassle you as you spend 4/20 doing your thing.”

“If you’re a white person.”

The blog goes into detail about racial disparities in the legal industry, disproportionate arrest rates in states like Colorado and also notes that while Republican former House Speaker John Boehner’s stance on cannabis has evolved—from prohibitionist to marijuana firm board member—it also reflects a problematic willingness to profit off the legal industry without recognizing the criminal justice reform work that’s still to be done.

Increased support for cannabis reform, including from former opponents, is “good news,” the company wrote. “What’s troubling is that the criminal justice system hasn’t kept up with the culture.”

Ben & Jerry’s is calling on Congress to expunge the records of individuals with prior marijuana convictions and pardon anyone “whose only crime was possession of cannabis.” The company is also applauding city officials who’ve proactively expunged marijuana records and prosecutors who’ve announced that their offices would no longer be pursing low-level cannabis crimes.

“Want to feel really really good this 4/20? Then let’s make sure that legalization benefits all of us. That’ll turn 4/20 into a day that we all can celebrate.”

To that end, the company is teaming up with San Jose marijuana dispensary Caliva, which is donating 4.20 percent of profits from 4/20 sales to support Code for America’s effort to automatically expunge past cannabis convictions.

They’re also linking to a petition that people can sign to show their support for comprehensive marijuana reform and, to sweeten the deal, they’re offering a a free pint of their “Half Baked” ice cream blend to anyone who orders a cannabis delivery from Caliva.

“At this point where a company can’t just invoke 4/20 for laughs or give lip service to social justice, it’s great to see a campaign use the holiday to call attention to concrete solutions around ‘cannabis justice,'” Shaleen Title, who holds the social justice seat on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, told Marijuana Moment.

Meanwhile, other mainstream brands are launching 4/20-themed campaigns of their own—most of which don’t address the historical harms of prohibition enforcement.

Fast food chain Carl’s Jr., for example, is hoping to turn out the 4/20 crowd in Denver by selling a burger with CBD-infused sauce on the marijuana holiday. The burger will cost $4.20 and all of the proceeds will go to…the company.

While that move caught plenty of media headlines—in part because the Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly said that adding CBD to the food supply remains prohibited—Carl’s Jr. is far from alone in its overt campaign to leverage the holiday without addressing the inherent privilege it represents.

Pizza Hut is offering a Triple Chocolate Brownie for $4.20 on Saturday.

Boston Market is offering a promotion surrounding…pot pies.

Via bostonmarket.com.

“It is unfortunate to see the white-washing and commercialization of 4/20 by corporate interests with no stake in the fight for marijuana justice,” Erik Altieri, executive director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “While the news will undoubtedly focus on light hearted celebrations, it is imperative we remember that every year over 600,000 Americans are still arrested for simple marijuana possession, those arrested are overwhelmingly people of color and other marginalized communities.”

“While there is still much to celebrate in regards to the progress we have made, we still have a long way to go to right the wrongs of prohibition,” Altieri said. “Instead of focusing on a quick way to get rich, marijuana-related businesses should follow Ben and Jerry’s lead and they must take seriously their social obligation to advance social justice and civil liberties as members of the nascent cannabis industry.”

New York-based Fresh&Co rolled out a line of marijuana-themed offerings like “half-baked salad.”

GrubHub analyzed its own sales data to show what food items were the most popular on 4/20 before and sent out an email blast on the findings.

“Let us be blunt. The ultimate stoner holiday is around the corner, and if there’s one thing Grubhub knows, it’s that one crucial ingredient of a successful 4/20 is food,” GrubHub wrote. “The munchies are a natural side effect of smoking marijuana, so why not indulge on the hungriest day of the year?”

Ridesharing service Lyft—in a promotion that at least advances a harm reduction message—announced that it is offering a $4.20 credit for a single ride in Colorado and various select cities throughout the U.S. and Canada where marijuana is legal—similar to what it did last year.

“Kick back and enjoy 4/20 with the help of Lyft and our designated drivers,” the company wrote. “We’ve partnered with some great folks to help you get to the park, to the store, and back to the couch — easier than ever.”

Increasingly, advocates and some lawmakers are growing frustrated by the country’s lighthearted, or profit-driven, attitude toward cannabis reform. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) no longer wants people to talk to him about legalization without making restorative justice for those harmed by prohibition a key part of the conversation.

Congressional Democrats also held a panel at a recent policy retreat that centered on social equity in the cannabis industry. That marijuana should be legal was regarded as a given, but more to the point, a legal system should lift up those who’ve been disproportionately targeted by the drug war.

Legalization advocate and rapper Killer Mike, whose birthday happens to coincide with the cannabis holiday, said in a press release on Friday that 4/20 should remind people of the need to decriminalize cannabis.

“While there has been progress, we should go one step further and ensure that the very people (African Americans) who have been profiled and punished due to the War on Drugs, have an opportunity to participate in the commercialization of marijuana,” he said. “It is not enough to decriminalize weed, promote its sale in local economies and not think creatively about how Black people can benefit from the very thing that has directly impacted their lives.”

Congressional Democrats Compete In Marijuana-Themed Trivia Game

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.

Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Los Angeles-based associate editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

Culture

SXSW Wants You To Submit Marijuana Panel Ideas For 2020 Event

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South by Southwest (SXSW) is soliciting ideas for marijuana-related panels to be featured at next year’s festival.

The Austin-based conference—which celebrates music, film, art and innovation at annual events—promoted its “Cannabusiness Track” in a tweet on Friday.

The 2020 marijuana track will involve panels that explore the “technological, cultural, financial, legal and political ecosystems that are defining the cannabis-focused enterprises of both today and tomorrow,” according to a description.

It “presents insights for professionals experienced in this rapidly-evolving industry, as well as introductions for newcomers who are just starting to enter this space.”

Have a concept for a panel that’d be a good fit for the program? There are only a few days left before Friday’s deadline to submit ideas through SXSW’s online tool. The festival will take place March 16-22, 2020.

Marijuana has become a mainstay at the Texas conference, with this year’s SXSW showcasing more than 20 cannabis events—with panels covering everything from female entrepreneurship in the marijuana industry to the state of cannabis politics in the Lone Star state.

Social justice advocates protested a SXSW keynote speech delivered by former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who declined to act on reform while serving as a congressional leader but has since joined the board of one of the world’s largest cannabis companies.

The activists argued that legalization and restorative justice must go hand-in-hand, and Boehner represented a profit-driven “Big Marijuana” industry that’s antithetical to that goal.

SXSW included an advisory on its new Cannabusiness Track submission page, noting that “cannabis and related laws vary.”

“Programming in this track is designed to inform attendees about this fast-changing industry, and does not promote the use or sale of illegal drugs,” SXSW wrote.

FDA Official To Keynote Major Hemp Industry Conference Next Month

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Culture

Tom Hanks Denies Fake Quote Promoting CBD Company

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Actor Tom Hanks wants you to know that he is not, in fact, feeling like a new person after using a CBD product from a California-based cannabis company.

In a tweet posted on Wednesday morning, Hanks denied a quote attributed to him that described advances in the CBD industry as “remarkable” and stating that he was “feeling like a new me” after using a cannabidiol product from a company called Cali Naturals.

“FRAUD! INTERNET FAKE! Just so you know,” the star of films such as Forrest Gump and Cast Away wrote, sharing a photo of the false quote.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Hanks has been featured in several dubious articles in recent years casting him as a champion of the non-intoxicating cannabis compound.

In another quote with questionable sourcing, Hanks reportedly said in 2017 that he was “fed up of taking various pills” and first tried using CBD to “soothe my anxiety.”

While it’s not clear if the Cali Naturals cited in the new misattributed quote is the similarly named California Naturals CBD, a representative of that company told Marijuana Moment in an email that the development is part of a pattern they’ve experienced and that they did not know the origins of the Hanks hoax.

Someone “has been using our company name to falsely gain customers, maybe to scam them,” Erin Janson said. “We have received many emails from unsuspecting people saying that they purchased CBD from us and were charged for orders they did not want, or signed up for a monthly CBD club after they got a free trial.”

“We are just a small family business trying to make it in the CBD world,” Janson said. “We hope this does not tarnish our name or products.”

In any case, Hanks cleared the air with his all-caps Twitter statement. He might have been flying high as an astronaut in the 1995 film Apollo 13, but he’s certainly not the spokesperson for cannabis that some would have you believe.

Several Grateful Dead Members Call On Fans To Support Marijuana Reform

Photo elements courtesy of Dick Thomas Johnson and Kimzy Nanney.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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Several Grateful Dead Members Call On Fans To Support Marijuana Reform

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Three founding members of The Grateful Dead and a member of the spinoff group Dead & Company used part of their Independence Day to promote marijuana reform.

Songwriter and guitarist Bob Weir and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, who are now part of Dead & Company, each called on their social media followers to get involved with the Cannabis Voter Project, which “aims to educate Americans about about how voting can impact cannabis policy.” Dead & Company bassist Oteik Burbridge also used his platform to promote the organization.

Fans were encouraged to text “CANNA VOTER” to 40649, which prompts them with questions about federal cannabis reform and automatically generates messages to their congressional representatives. The musicians are also inviting supporters to visit a Cannabis Voter Project booth at one of Dead & Company’s shows in Colorado.

HeadCount, a non-profit organization that partners with musicians to register voters and operates Cannabis Voter Project, has been working with Dead & Company—and the band’s upcoming Colorado shows will put the focus on marijuana reform.

“No better way to celebrate #IndependenceDay than telling elected leaders what you believe in,” Weir wrote. “If you happen to consider yourself a ‘Cannabis Voter,’ text CANNA VOTER to 40649 or visit [Cannabis Voter Project] on #ParticipationRow at our Colorado shows.”

“I’ve smoked a lot of weed. And I vote,” Kreutzmann said. “If you‘re like me you should visit @HeadCountOrg’s @Cannabis_Voter Project booth on Participation Row in Boulder this weekend!”

The partnership makes sense given The Grateful Dead’s close association to the counterculture scene and cannabis across the span of several decades. Hart also owns a marijuana company that sells small joints in shops throughout Northern California.

Musicians are increasingly speaking out about cannabis politics. Last month, for example, Killer Mike discussed why rap artists deserve more credit for advancing marijuana legalization. And Rolling Stones’s Mick Jagger gave the governor of Illinois a shoutout at a Chicago concert on the day he signed a cannabis legalization bill.

Mick Jagger Gives Illinois Governor A Shout Out For Legalizing Marijuana

This piece was updated to note that additional The Grateful Dead and Dead & Company members posted on social media about Cannabis Voter Project.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Marijuana Moment is made possible with support from readers. If you rely on our cannabis advocacy journalism to stay informed, please consider a monthly Patreon pledge.
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