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.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) April 19, 2019
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.
Our friends at @gocaliva will be donating 4.20% of their profits on 4/20 to @codeforamerica in recognition of their project, Clear My Record, which works to give people a second chance by clearing cannabis records. All the more reason to celebrate the holiday!" pic.twitter.com/yREQDh9163
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) April 19, 2019
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.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) April 19, 2019
“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.
— Carl’s Jr. (@CarlsJr) April 17, 2019
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.
All joking aside, tomorrow only buy one Pot Pie & a drink and get one Pot Pie FREE. https://t.co/0I4ZYfc4gf
— Boston Market (@bostonmarket) April 19, 2019
“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.”
Spray Marijuana Mist On North Korea And Iran To Solve Nuclear Crisis, C-SPAN Caller Says
Katherine from New Hampshire has a novel idea to stave off nuclear war: fly over sites where the weapons are being developed and release a marijuana mist so that the workers will “chill out” and lose interest in creating the missiles.
During an open phone segment of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal on Wednesday, the viewer laid out her vision for world peace to a visibly amused Pedro Echevarria, host of the program.
“I have a comment, and I don’t know how it could be done, but I was thinking we could spray a marijuana-Prozac or peace-happy-friendly chemical mist over sites in Iran and North Korea, where they’re working to produce nuclear weapons,” she said. “And the mist would cause the workers at these sites in Iran and North Korea to chill out and become less interested in making nuclear missiles.”
“The world needs to relax and take deep breaths and be into good days instead of destruction and death, and that’s what they should be talking about,” she said.
Echevarria declined to comment on the proposal and turned to the next caller, who did not follow up about the cannabis chemtrail idea and instead chatted about socialism.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
‘I Can’t Breathe’: Video Shows Grandmother With Arthritis Arrested For CBD At Disney World
Police released body camera footage of a 69-year-old woman being arrested at a Florida amusement park for possessing CBD oil without a state medical cannabis card on Tuesday.
Hester Burkhalter, a grandmother who suffers from arthritis, was arrested after an off duty sheriff’s deputy discovered the oil in her purse at a checkpoint at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last month in a case that made headlines around the world.
The newly released video shows Burkhalter being handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, where she began to feel claustrophobic and said, “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m going to pass out.” One deputy said that she threw up, according to News 6.
Burkhalter, who says her doctor in Tennessee recommended CBD, later spent 12 hours in custody and was released on a $2,000 bond.
Burkhalter requested to be transported to the jail alone, as opposed to being transported along with another individual who was arrested for possession of a cannabis vaporizer, and a deputy made a call to accommodate her. She was allowed to be taken to the facility in the front seat of a separate patrol car.
“The older female said she gets claustrophobic, and feels like she’s going to pass out, and wants somebody else so she can go by herself,” the deputy said on a call.
Once she was in the front seat with air conditioning on, she said she felt better and thanked the deputy.
“I couldn’t breathe back there,” she reiterated.
When the arrest was first reported, reform advocates condemned the park and sheriff’s department for subjecting an older woman to an arrest on a family vacation for simple possession of a non-intoxicating compound that is known to treat pain and inflammation.
CBD is legal for medical purposes in Florida, but individuals must be registered to possess medical cannabis in the state. Hemp-derived CBD was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet developed regulatory guidelines allowing for its lawful marketing as a food item or supplement.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against Burkhalter earlier this month, finding her case unsuitable for prosecution. She’s since announced plans to file a lawsuit against Disney and the sheriff’s department.
“Horrific treatment that they placed upon this church-going, law-abiding grandmother,” her lawyer said at a press conference.
In a similarly confounding recent case, a 72-year-old woman was arrested at a Texas airport after security discovered CBD oil. She was charged with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years, and she stayed in custody for two days.
“To be honest, I did not even think about the possibility of my CBD being illegal or being challenged,” Lena Bartula, who was going to visit family in Oregon, said. “It is such an integral part of my wellness that it got thrown into my bag along with Vitamin C and oregano oil.”
“Had I thought about it, I would have remembered that I could buy it in Portland,” she said.
The charges in that case were also dropped about two months after the arrest.
In other recent cannabis enforcement action called out as excessive by reform advocates, Missouri police officers searched through the belongings of a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer in March after a security guarded reported the smell of marijuana.
The officers found nothing, but video of the search sparked public outrage over the harassing behavior of the officers toward a sick man who said he does benefit from medical cannabis.
Photo courtesy of YouTube.
Presidential Candidate Jokes About Why Denver Decriminalized Psychedelic Mushrooms
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) joked on Thursday that Denver voters approved a measure to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms because they thought the state of Colorado was running low on marijuana.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate made the remark during an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. The host asked Bennet if it was “true that magic mushrooms are going to be legal in Colorado.”
(The measure actually simply decriminalizes psilocybin mushrooms for adults, and only in the city of Denver.)
Bennet slapped his knee and quipped, “I think that our voters just voted to get Denver to do that, and I think they might’ve thought that we were out of marijuana all of a sudden.”
“And by the way, we’re not out of marijuana in Colorado,” he said.
“That’s what it says on the state flag now, right?” Meyers said.
“Yeah, exactly,” Bennet replied.
The senator, who previously served as the superintendent of the Denver Public Schools, has cosponsored several wide-ranging cannabis bills in Congress, including legislation to federally deschedule marijuana and penalize states that enforce cannabis laws in a discriminatory way.
But before his state voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, Bennet stood opposed.
It’s not clear how he voted on Denver’s historic psilocybin initiative.
At least Bennet is aware of the measure and was willing to joke about it, though. Several of his colleagues who have worked on cannabis issues declined to weigh in on decriminalizing psychedelics when asked by Marijuana Moment recently.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/Late Night with Seth Meyers.