36 states have legalized cannabis for medical use and 19 for recreational use but, despite this significant progress, cannabis is still deemed federally illegal – and there are thousands of Americans, a large percentage minority, serving time for nonviolent cannabis charges.
The Weldon Project’s Mission Green is working to correct this from support from the cannabis space, and in 2022, we at Verano heeded their call, as reported by Forbes:
Excerpt from Forbes Mention of Verano and Mission Green:
The Mission Green initiative provides unique opportunities for cannabis businesses and consumers to participate in the nationwide campaign aimed to provide relief to those who have been negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition. Mission Green’s cannabis clemency program is designed to secure the release of those serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses, as well as to create a pathway for pardons or expungements so that those who have been affected can move forward with their lives. The initiative also provides legal assistance, re-entry programs and additional support services for formerly incarcerated individuals without access to legal counsel.
“Our organization’s ability to meaningfully dismantle systemic injustices created by cannabis prohibition is further amplified when we partner with respected and established industry leaders like Verano,” Angelos writes. “We are proud to join forces with a team that shares our commitment to supporting communities disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs and believe this national campaign will compel more Americans to demand impactful cannabis reforms from their lawmakers.”
Verano’s partnership with The Weldon Project includes an initial donation of $50,000 to Mission Green. Additionally, the company will match up to $13,000 in customer and patient-generated donations at its nearly 100 dispensaries across 13 states on the first Friday of each month beginning on June 3 and continuing through 2022, all to commemorate the 13 years Angelos spent in prison. The fundraising campaign will be featured exclusively at Verano’s flagship Zen Leaf and MÜV dispensaries, as well as additional retail locations the company operates across the country.
“After enduring 13 years behind bars for a minor cannabis-related offense himself, Weldon’s unique perspective, combined with the widespread support he’s earned from leaders across the political spectrum after years of impactful cannabis activism, positions him and the Mission Green team as ideal partners to help expand and elevate our actions in support of cannabis reform,” says Archos. “We’re proud to stand alongside The Weldon Project and Mission Green as we further scale and amplify our cannabis reform actions, with the goal of creating permanent, positive change for cannabis and our society at large.”
View the original press from Forbes: The Weldon Project’s Mission Green And Verano Team Up For Cannabis Clemency.
What is the Weldon Project?
Founded by Weldon Angelos after serving time for a nonviolent cannabis-related charge, The Weldon Project is the culmination of Weldon’s first-hand experience within the criminal justice system as it relates to cannabis-related “crime.”
“What Weldon does, so powerfully, is draw attention to all the things that are broken about this system—so much of it he represents in his one story about how the system has become a perversion of justice.”
Senator Cory Bookervia The Weldon Project
While Weldon’s story had as close to a happy ending as possible, there are thousands of those still imprisoned unfairly – something he could not forget, nor move on from. The Weldon Project is Weldon’s attempt to address the ongoing tragedies in the criminal justice system as it relates to nonviolent cannabis crimes. The nonprofit organization began as a driver of financial aid to those incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses, and is now the powerful head of the Mission Green initiative.
Who is Weldon Angelos?
Weldon was a burgeoning music producer, on his way to the top thanks to collaborations with Snoop Dogg, Nas, and Pink, when he was arrested for selling cannabis to an informant. Three separate transactions took place, totaling $300 and weighing in at just over a pound, but due to the criminal justice system, the three sales were expanded to 20 federal crimes, five of which carried a mandatory 105 years in prison.
Weldon was convicted of 15 of the 20 charges which required a 55-year sentence. This was Weldon’s first legal conviction, let alone cannabis conviction. The harsh sentence thrust Weldon into the spotlight, creating unlikely allies from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C.
The case struck a chord with the judge presiding, as well – Judge Cassell, a conservative Bush-era appointee, described Weldon’s 55-year sentence as “cruel, unjust, and even irrational.” After the sentencing was handed down, Judge Cassell resigned from his lifetime appointment to advocate for the release of Weldon.
After years of advocating on behalf of Weldon by government officials such as Cory Booker, celebrities like Snoop Dogg, and cannabis advocates, Weldon was released from prison after serving 13 years for a first-time cannabis crime.
What is cannabis clemency?
Clemency is the reduction of a sentence or the full pardon of a crime. This important piece of our criminal justice system was established to curb and rectify punishments that were, in fact, unjust.
Cannabis clemency is the act of showing leniency towards someone who has been convicted of a cannabis-related offense. This can take the form of a pardoned sentence, a reduced sentence, or even just a dismissal of charges. While cannabis clemency is not currently available in all jurisdictions, it is an option that is becoming increasingly available as more and more jurisdictions decriminalize or legalize cannabis. For those who have been convicted of minor cannabis offenses, cannabis clemency can provide a second chance and allow them to move on with their lives without the stigma of a criminal record.
In a time where cannabis is gaining acceptance, and widely available in states where it is now legalized either medically or recreationally, the time for pivotal and broad-reaching cannabis clemency is now.
What has Mission Green accomplished?
Weldon and Mission Green “played a key role in President Trump’s final clemency grants of nearly a dozen individuals who were serving life sentence for marijuana. Angelos is now working with the Biden administration to create a clemency program for cannabis offenders.”
The organization’s support goes beyond clemency, however, and into the prison walls themselves. While imprisoned, food is below subpar, and often in small portions. The Hand Up program of Mission Green lends support to inmates, in an effort, Weldon says, to signal “to other inmates and staff that there is someone on the outside that cares for them and is fighting for their release.”
Help Verano support Mission Green
Project Mission Green was our bold foray into cannabis clemency. While we have supported reform campaigns in the past, our partnership with Mission Green is “our way to further scale and amplify our cannabis reform actions, with the goal of creating permanent, positive change for cannabis and our society at large,” said George Archos, CEO of Verano.
Our partnership included an initial donation of $50,000 to Mission Green. In addition, the company matched up to $13,000 in customer and patient-generated donations at nearly 100 dispensaries across 13 states on the first Friday of the month from June to December, all to commemorate the 13 years Angelos spent in prison. The fundraising campaign was featured at our flagship Zen Leaf and MÜV dispensaries.
We are proud to be a vocal supporter of The Weldon Project: Mission Green and are honored to further cannabis reform with your help. Learn more about how you can get involved with Mission Green and cannabis clemency efforts.