An industry coalition has created ‘Freedom Grams’ to advocate for the release of more than 40,000 people in the US still incarcerated for non-violent cannabis possession.
Freedom Grams launched through California-based dispensary Mankind, with more distributors following soon. Each pack features someone imprisoned for the exact weight of cannabis inside the package. For example, Kevin O’Brien Allen, who was sentenced to life without parole in 2014 for the possession of 3.5g of cannabis.
“Through Freedom Grams, we are raising public awareness of the harsh reality of cannabis-related incarceration and hope to empower our supporters to join our fight to secure the full freedom of the communities we serve,” said Stephen Post, campaign strategist at Last Prisoner Project.
“Cannabis has been historically demonised, and people were punished for all the wrong reasons,” added William Kanistras, director of product operations at GABY Inc. “The legal system needs to recognise that the people who were imprisoned deserve to be free too.”
Freedom Grams is an open-source brand, meaning members of the community can submit more cases to feature on the packs and other industry players can join by creating Freedom Grams labels for their own product with an online label generator.
Apart from telling the personal stories of cannabis prisoners, freedomgrams.org features data-focused editorial content informing visitors about the unjust cannabis criminalisation in the US. The Freedom Grams website channels support by guiding people to write to local politicians directly, join a petition or connect with activist groups.
Besides founding partners AROYA and GABY Inc, the initiative is supported by Ball Family Farms and Dewey Cannabis Co. “Cannabis is now a legal and billion-dollar industry,” said Chris Ball, former legacy operator and CEO of Ball Family Farms. “It’s only right that we let people like me, who have cannabis convictions out of prison. Allow them to participate in this space. Let them bring the expertise that got them locked up into a legal framework.”
“The continued criminalisation only hampers progress and innovation in the cannabis industry,” Hertel added. “With Freedom Grams, we are bringing together the industry and cannabis consumers to solve this by allowing them to use their own freedom to free others.”