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.”
California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary
Two city councilmembers in California became the first elected officials to use cryptocurrency to purchase marijuana from a dispensary—at least publicly—on Tuesday.
Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett and Emeryville City Councilmember Dianne Martinez visited the Ohana Cannabis shop in Emeryville to demonstrate how the technology can reduce transaction fees and improve financial transparency.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Berkeley Councilmember @BenBartlettCA and Emeryville Councilmember @EmeryvilleDi become the first elected officials to buy cannabis with cryptocurrency in history (probably, idk) with help from @EvilleAlly pic.twitter.com/gRTHFW2Zvc
— Rigel Robinson (@RigelRobinson) September 11, 2019
The technology they used, called stablecoin, is a form of digital currency that has “price stable characteristics” linked to the U.S. dollar, meaning the sale and tax proceeds were settled in a way that’s consistent with cash.
Blockchain Advocacy Coalition, which is backing the technology, is advocating for legislation that would enable local jurisdictions in California to “determine and implement a method by which a licensee under [the state’s legal cannabis program] may remit any city or county cannabis license tax amounts due by payment using stablecoins.”
“By providing a cash-free method of cannabis tax collections, AB 953 can reduce costs and safety risks for cities and businesses,” Bartlett said in a press release. He added that the marijuana industry is “a 21st-century industry” that “deserves 21st-century legislation.”
“Tax collections leveraging stablecoin technology will help bring this new industry into the light.”
In a photo taken at the dispensary, Bartlett is holding up a pamphlet for VetCBD, a low-THC, high-CBD tincture that’s used to treat conditions such as anxiety and pain in pets. It’s not clear what Martinez purchased from the shop.
The bill to provide for alternative payment options at marijuana businesses is timely given that federal prohibition has made banks skittish of servicing such companies and results in many firms operating on a largely cash-only basis—an issue that has captured the attention of federal regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
In California, legislation that would allow credit unions to accept cannabis business clients was pulled by its sponsor on Tuesday. Sen. Bob Herzberg (D) said he plans to reintroduce the bill next year.
“We are thrilled to build technology that solves real problems for customers, merchants, and politicians which will help usher in the next 100 million users of crypto,” said Dan Schatt, co-founder of Cred and the Universal Protocol Alliance, which developed the stablecoin technology, said.
“Not only does crypto result in significant cost reduction for consumers and merchants, but it also enables highly productive tax collection, transparency, and predictability for city and state governments,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rigel Robinson.
Seth Rogen Hosting Marijuana-Fueled Charity Carnival For Alzheimer’s Research
Actor Seth Rogen will be the ringmaster at an adults-only charity carnival next month featuring comedians running game booths and marijuana aplenty.
Proceeds from the Hilarity for Charity County Fair will go toward research into combating Alzheimer’s disease, an issue close to Rogen.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) August 26, 2019
“We here at Hilarity for Charity love to fight Alzheimer’s disease, but we also love rides, alcohol and weed!” Rogen, who launched his own cannabis company in March, said in a promotional video for the Los Angeles event. “We also love trying to be good people so that in the event there is an afterlife, we don’t go to hell.”
Comedians Adam Devine, Andrew Rannells, Ben Feldman, Casey Wilson, Ilana Glazer, Ike Barinholtz, Jeff Ross, Josh Gad, Kate Micucci, Nick Kroll, Regina Hall and Riki Lindhome are participating in the event. Skateboarder Tony Hawk is set to do a halfpipe performance. And rapper Anderson Paak will also put on a show.
Details of where cannabis fits into the program aren’t available on the event site. But Gad, one of the comedians participating, noted in a tweet that this is “the only fair I will attend this year other than my children’s book fair which has a lot less readily available weed.”
I will be at this fair. This is the only fair I will attend this year other than my children’s book fair which has a lot less readily available weed. https://t.co/k88ZSMb3O9
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) August 26, 2019
Rogen’s passion for fighting Alzheimer’s isn’t new. He’s become an outspoken activist for research into the disease after he witnessed his mother-in-law develop early onset Alzheimer’s.
In 2014, the actor opened his testimony before a Senate committee hearing on Alzheimer’s research by joking that he wasn’t there to discuss the topic some might expect: marijuana.
“First I should answer the question I assume many of you are asking, yes I’m aware this has nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “In fact, if you can believe it, this concerns something that I find even more important.”
Though he didn’t bring it up at the hearing, research has demonstrated that cannabis can help eliminate a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, the federal government asked the public to submit additional scientific research into the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana in the treatment of the condition.
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Seth Rogen.
Disneyland Busted Robert Downey Jr. For Smoking Marijuana, He Reveals While Accepting Disney Award
Robert Downey Jr. said he was once detained at Disneyland after getting caught smoking marijuana on a gondola ride.
The Iron Man and Avengers actor shared the anecdote while being honored at the Disney Legends award show on Friday, describing his first trip to the California park.
“Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The very first time I went to Disneyland, I was transported to another place—within moments of being arrested,” Downey said, drawing laughs. “I was brought to a surprisingly friendly processing center, given a stern warning, and returned to, if memory serves, one very disappointed group chaperone.”
“I’ve been sitting on that shame for a while and I‘m just going to release it here tonight,” he said. “I would like to make amends to whomever had to detain me for smoking pot in a gondola without a license.”
“And I don’t wanna further confuse the issue by insinuating that pot smoking licenses for the gondola are in any way obtainable or for any of the other park attractions,” Downey added.
“Maybe for the Imagineers, but that’s their own business,” he joked, referencing Disney’s research and development team.
It’s not clear when Downey was detained in the so-called “Happiest Place On Earth,” but he’s previously talked about starting to use cannabis at an early age.
The actor isn’t the only high profile figure to get booted from Disneyland over smoking on the gondola ride.
Former President Barack Obama said last year that the same thing happened to him and some friends during college. He said during a speech at a political rally that they were smoking cigarettes on the gondolas, but also seemed to wink, raising questions about exactly what sort of plant material he and his friends were inhaling at the time.
In any case, Downey is right that there are no gondola marijuana smoking licenses available, even in California where cannabis is legal. In fact, Disney specifies on its park rules site that “[s]moking marijuana or any other illegal substances is not permitted at any time.”
There are designated cigarette smoking areas, however, which the former president presumably could have taken advantage of, if he really was simply imbibing tobacco.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/Spokesmayne.