On 4/19, the day before stoner holiday 4/20, ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s came out in support of restorative justice for victims of the predatory practices of criminalizing drug offenders.
“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,” the statement said. “If you’re a white person.”
“Sorry to bring you down, but that’s the harsh reality. If you love pot AND you’re white, everything is totally awesome these days. In 2017, 81% of cannabis executives were white. Meanwhile, even in states where pot is legal, and even though Black people and white people use pot at similar rates, Black people are still arrested way more often than whites. We love 4/20 and we love legalization, but that’s not OK,” the statement said.
In an age where brands are making political statements left and right, this one is pretty radical, but not too surprising. The Vermont-based brand has led the charge in this movement, in the past having made statements supporting campaign reform and being one of the first mainstream ice cream brands to offer extensive vegan options.
Restorative Justice for those criminalized by cannabis law, though, is well-timed, as we find ourselves in a moment of discourse that finds cannabis’ legalization both popular and celebrated, but those sitting in jails are still neglected.
According to Green Entrepeneur, as of September 2018, at least 146 million Americans live in states with decriminalization laws, meanwhile there are 2.157 million Americans incarcerated in federal, state and local prisons, the highest incarceration rate in the world. Of those incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison, 57 percent are Black or Latino.
“Take a look at Alaska, Colorado, and Washington, DC, all of which have legalized pot,” the Ben & Jerry’s statement said. “In Alaska, Black people are still being arrested 10 times more often than whites. In DC, they’re arrested 4 times more. In Colorado? Three times.”
Through the link above, the company is collecting signatures to take to congress to push action on restorative justice for cannabis law. With cities like San Francisco and Seattle setting a precedent, they want to take this national.
Daniel Johanson (he/him) is a journalist and digital media specialist living in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scapi and in that capacity manages all things content, including writing and editing articles and producing digital content. His most recent work includes the docuseries Heart of a Nation: Tracking Socialism in the Midwest and co-hosting the podcast Scapi Radio. He spends his free time with cats.
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