No one deserves to be imprisoned for nonviolent cannabis crimes.
This is the key tenant of Mission Green, founded by Weldon Angelos to fight for criminal justice reform through clemency efforts, advocacy, public awareness campaigns, and support services for affected people and their loved ones. With your help, we have taken significant strides in supporting Mission Green’s initiatives, all to support individuals unfairly punished by outdated laws.
In 2022, Verano’s efforts to support Mission Green and Weldon Angelos were a key focus in dispensaries. These prisoners of the War on Drugs and their stories should not be forgotten – something Weldon, himself, understands; he was incarcerated for 13 years for a non-violent cannabis offense and was fortunate to receive clemency in 2020. Mission Green was founded to ensure others received his good fortune.
Keep reading to learn the impact of the Verano and Mission Green 2022 partnership and the stories of those individuals impacted.
Verano and Mission Green Supporters
When conceptualizing how best to make an impact, our retail dispensaries were top of mind. With over 100 stores across 13 states, it seemed the best way to maximize our efforts.
To start, Verano donated $50,000 to Project Mission Green for immediate support, but our year-long initiative was truly special. Each first Friday of the month, from June to December 2022, customers of Zen Leaf and MÜV Dispensaries were encouraged to donate to support Weldon’s initiative – and Verano matched up to $13,000 dollars in donations, to honor Weldon’s time served.
In total, customers of our dispensaries generously donated $50,173 to the Mission Green cause, and with the matched donations from Verano, the total comes to $90,715. Including the original $50,000 donated to Mission Green, Verano and all of you have donated a robust total of $140,715!
Mission Green at Zen Leaf
From New Jersey to Arizona, central Illinois to rural Arkansas, Zen Leaf shoppers came out in force to support Mission Green.
Zen Leaf Lawrence was the standout location with the highest donations at the individual dispensary with a total of $3,922 from customers and patients. With the matched donations from Verano that brought the total all the way to $7,844, just from one location! This is all attributed to the gracious cannabis community of Lawrence, New Jersey.
Mission Green at MÜV
When those in the cannabis community visited MÜV Dispensaries in Florida, they had the opportunity to donate $1, $5, or $10 along with their cannabis purchase. In total, patients of the state generated $35,304 in donations ot Mission Green!
Verano Donates $140,000 to Mission Green
Verano has collected $50,173 on behalf of Mission Green over the past 6 months, and with the matched donations from Verano, the total comes to $90,777! Including the original $50,000 donated to Mission Green, Verano and all of you have donated a robust total of $140,777!
Talk about an impact! These donations are key to advocating on behalf of those unjustly incarcerated – like Danny Trevio, Edwin Rubis, Deana Martin, Ismael Lira, and Luke Scarmazzo.
Mission Green Spotlights
Despite widespread legalization, harsh sentences are all too common for cannabis cases. Mothers, fathers, and even legal dispensary owners have been impacted. Here are their stories:
After owning and operating medical cannabis businesses in Michigan, Danny Trevino was harshly punished for his non-violent crime of being involved with the industry, a shocking 16-year sentence. He has served two long years thus far – his harsh sentencing and time left further underscores the need for cannabis reform and sweeping cannabis clemencies.
Edwin Rubis‘ fate was unexpectedly harsh. For a first-time, nonviolent offense he was expected to accept a plea deal but instead chose to fight the charges. Despite no one offering explicit evidence that Edwin was guilty, his ultimate sentence to be an astonishing 40 years in prison.
Deana Martin, a dedicated mother and loving wife, is being separated from her family for 7 long years because of an unjust cannabis-related crime. This heartbreaking separation has forced Deana 700 miles away from home in order to serve out the sentence imposed by blind justice.
After a nonviolent, first-time cannabis offense, Ismael Lira found himself in an unimaginable situation – facing life behind bars without parole at some of the most dangerous federal prisons in our nation. Despite being incarcerated for 18 years and counting, showing good behavior throughout, his appeals have been unsuccessful.
Luke Scarmazzo stands out as the last federal prisoner in California held captive for operating a legal medical marijuana dispensary. His conviction serves as an enduring reminder of alternative medicine’s slow acceptance by society and government alike.
Luke’s business partner, Richard Montes, was also tried and charged with a non-violent cannabis crime, though he was fortunate enough to receive cannabis clemency in 2017 from President Obama.
Richard Montes, Granted Cannabis Clemency
Richard Montes was a medical cannabis advocate because of the relief he received from the life-changing therapeutic plant. In 2004, Richard was in a car accident that required multiple surgeries that, unfortunately, left him suffering with chronic pain. Following the advice of his doctor, he started using medical cannabis and quickly saw how positively it affected his life. There was a small issue, though – in his local town of Modesto, California, there were no dispensaries. He had no choice but to travel to the San Fransisco Bay Area to buy the cannabis he needed – but Richard realized others needed this medicine, too. He reached out to a long-time friend, Luke Scarmazzo, and together, they opened a dispensary in their hometown.
After following all of California’s state regulations regarding medical cannabis, California Health Collective officially opened in 2005 – but not for long. In September 2006, the facility was raided by the DEA and the two owners ed under federal law for selling cannabis. Because they were charged under federal law and not state, the admittance of state laws in California as evidence for abiding by the legal medical cannabis program was not allowed, further allowing for extreme and harsh punishment of the two men. And, their thorough record-keeping for the business? All submitted as evidence in federal court against them, according to Richard.
Despite this, he was lucky – Luke connected Richard with Weldon Angelos when Weldon himself was still imprisoned. Weldon helped both Richard and Luke apply for clemency to curb their unjust sentences and, upon his release, advocated tirelessly for the California partners. Richard feels his release would not have been possible without Weldon’s paving the way, and Mission Green’s active initiatives with the federal government.
When asked what he would tell those still incarcerated, Richard said: “Don’t give up hope.”
How To Continue Your Support of Cannabis Clemency and Mission Green
Advocacy is key to furthering cannabis law reform. Contacting your state representatives, legislatures, and the White House itself detailing the injustice those imprisoned face, the benefits to their release, and how you, personally, have been impacted is key.
As are donations, of course.
Supporting organizations like Mission Green is pivotal to furthering cannabis reform. Whether by donating to the cause, following their social presence, or enrolling in Mission Green emails for updates on the program, you can have an impact – and did in 2022.
Thank you for the tremendous support of Mission Green. This partnership would not have been possible without you.