For the millions of people incarcerated for cannabis possession because of harsh laws around carrying and using it, there’s no clear path towards creating massively lucrative cannabis companies like MedMen or Eaze. That’s what the Possible Plan, a new nonprofit dedicated to funding organizations that address access and justice for those affected by cannabis laws, wants to change.
Possible is running a national ad in The New York Times Magazine’ special 1619 Issue, which takes a look at the 400-year anniversary of the first slave ship arriving to the U.S.
“Advertisers were walking away from this issue, and I found that to be so upsetting, because there are brands that make so much money in the African-American community,” said Jason White, chief marketing officer of cannabis company Select and former evp and global head of marketing for Beats Electronics. “Here’s an issue [that] wasn’t about shaming, [but instead] recognizing [the community]. I want to remind people that we’re not done yet—we have work to do.”
The team—which is led by White; Select CEO and founder Cameron Forni; and Carri Twigg, who was a special assistant to former President Barack Obama and director of public engagement for former Vice President Joe Biden—initially wants to raise $30 million dollars to fund organizations doing work around reparatory justice and equitable access. It’s a key part of the company’s mission: working with organizations who were here in this space long before them. “Rather than compete with [these organizations], we’re going to help,” explained White.
The national ad features a poem by 13th-century poet Jalal al-Din Rumi, and at the bottom, it implores readers to participate any way they can to help those “whose lives have been adversely impacted by cannabis prohibition.”
White said the organization first plans to focus on incarceration and expungement issues; then, it will move on to “reparatory justice” by figuring how those affected by previous cannabis policies still can become part of the cannabis business movement, whether its through investment or entrepreneurship.
White said that in leaving Beats to join Select, he was aiming to be part of something like Possible Plan. And while he expects some might push back on a cannabis brand attempting to fix the current situation surrounding cannabis and its access, he said he’s ready for it. At the end of the day, it’s not about Select, he explained.
“We’re using the resources that we have internally that we have as a company to make it successful,” White said. “Our job is not done. It’s actually just beginning.”