One of the United States’ largest multi-state cannabis operators has revealed the results of a summer initiative to raise money and promote the expungement of cannabis-related criminal records.
Cresco Labs today announced that its nationwide Summer of Social Justice initiative raised more than $250,000 and supported the expungement process for over 1,000 individuals with cannabis crimes on their records.
The initiative commenced on June 19, 2021, 50 years after the drug war began in the United States.
Cresco Labs’ Sunnyside retail brand and flagship brand Cresco supported The Summer of Social Justice initiative.
Righting Past Injustices
Cresco Labs says the initiative involved supporting community expungement events, Know Your Rights workshops, and a documentary film about the drug war’s impact on the sentencing of Michael Thompson.
Cresco released the trailer for the documentary, The Sentencing of Michael Thompson, about Michigan’s longest-serving non-violent offender.
Thompson, who was granted clemency in January, was serving a 60-year sentence at the Muskegon Correctional facility for selling three pounds of cannabis to a police informant in 1994.
The documentary will debut in 2022.
According to Cresco Labs, the initiative helped amplify restorative justice, community incubator, and education workforce development programming made possible by its Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) initiative.
Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell says that the Summer of Social Justice initiative affirms the company’s commitment to social equity as a core value.
“As the United States moves to decriminalize cannabis and the industry continues to grow, it is critical that businesses use their platforms and resources to help restore communities and create opportunities for the BIPOC people and their families impacted by the War on Drugs,” says Bachtell. “We appreciate the passion of our partners, customers, and employees who lent their voices, time, expertise, and money to efforts that are building and uplifting the communities we operate in.”
Bachtell says Cresco Labs is committed to continuing initiatives like the Summer of Social Justice to help the cannabis industry continue developing into a responsible and respectable one.
While the initiative raise more than $250,000, Cresco Labs’ third-party vendors donated more than $150,000, which was contributed to community organizations across the country for their continuing social justice efforts.
A portion of wholesale proceeds from Cresco products, Sunnyside in-store fundraising, and anonymous matching contributions exceeded $100,000 and went to the Cannabis Justice Initiative (CJI).
CJI is part of the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Return to Freedom Project which provides free legal resources to people impacted by the drug war.
Cresco Labs also collaborated with the National Diversity & Inclusion Cannabis Alliance, Institute of Community Justice, PA Medical Marijuana Education Center, National Expungement Works, Center for Community Alternatives, Legal Aid Society of NYC, Black and Brown Cannabis Guild, and Social Change in ten states, supporting more than 25 expungement events and Know Your Rights sessions.
Cresco Labs says its employees worked hundreds of hours to support and provide education, legal, marketing, and fundraising services to social justice-focused community organizations.
“It was a privilege to lead a nationwide expungement initiative that supported the restoration of rights and agency for over one thousand people and collaborate with every business unit across the organization to deploy meaningful programming that raised broad awareness of soocial equity and engaged our customers and partners to act,” says Cresco Labs Executive VP of SEED Chima Eniya. “There are still over 40,000 people imprisoned with cannabis charges across the country, and for these people, their families, and their communities, the War on Drugs continues.”
Eniya says that as the inaugural Summer of Social Justice initiative ends, Cresco Labs will continue to demonstrate its commitment and responsibility to historically marginalized people, businesses, and communities and encourage peers and customers to continue supporting social justice-focused community organizations.
As part of its initiative, Cresco Labs launched a microsite on the Cresco brand website that urged people and companies to act on criminal justice with personal stories, signing the Last Prisoner Project’s (LPP) Time to Heal petition, or sending support letters to cannabis prisoners.
Through a Sunnyside in-store petition and the Cresco brand’s microsite, Cresco Labs collected more than 4,000 signatures for LPP, exceeding their goal.
The Time to Heal campaign calls on Joe Biden to advance criminal justice reform by granting clemency to people in federal prison for cannabis convictions.