Cresco Labs’ 'Summer of Social Justice' Initiative Raised Over $250,000 and Supported the Expungement Process for Over 1,000 People With Cannabis-Related Criminal Records
CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–PRESS RELEASE–Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated multistate operator and wholesaler of branded cannabis products, announced today its “Summer of Social Justice” nationwide initiative raised over $250,000 for social justice-focused community organizations and supported the expungement process for over 1,000 individuals with cannabis-related criminal records.
In June, a trailer was released for “The Sentence of Michael Thompson,” a documentary short film part of Cresco Labs’ “Summer of Social Justice” initiative. The film will be released in 2022.
The “Summer of Social Justice” initiative that launched on June 19th—the 50th anniversary of the War on Drugs—was supported by Cresco Labs, its Sunnyside retail brand and its flagship cannabis brand, Cresco. The initiative encompassed the support of community expungement events and Know Your Rights workshops, a documentary short film on the War on Drugs’ impact on the sentencing of Michael Thompson and financial contributions from the company and its third-party vendors. The initiative also helped amplify the ongoing restorative justice, community business incubator and education and workforce development programming facilitated by Cresco Labs’ SEED (Social Equity & Educational Development) initiative.
“Through our ‘Summer of Social Justice’ initiative, we affirm our commitment to social equity as a company core value,” said Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs. “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. 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. Cresco Labs is committed to continuing initiatives like the ‘Summer of Social Justice’ that will help the cannabis industry to continue to develop into a responsible and respectable one.”
Chima Enyia, Cresco Labs’ Executive Vice President of SEED, added, “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 social equity and engaged our customers and partners to act. 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. As our inaugural ‘Summer of Social Justice’ initiative ends, we’ll continue demonstrating our commitment and responsibility to historically marginalized people, businesses and communities, as well as encouraging our peers and customers to continue supporting social justice-focused community organizations.”
‘Summer of Social Justice’ Initiative Highlights
- In total, the “Summer of Social Justice” initiative raised more than $250,000.
- Cresco Labs’ third-party vendors donated over $150,000, which was contributed to various community organizations around the nation for their ongoing social justice work.
- A portion of proceeds from the wholesale of Cresco branded products, Sunnyside in-store fundraising and anonymous matching contributions totaled over $100,000, which went toward the Cannabis Justice Initiative, a component of the Return to Freedom Project from the National Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers, to provide free legal resources to individuals impacted by the War on Drugs.
- Collaborated with eight community-based organizations—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 10 states to support over 25 expungement events and Know Your Rights information sessions.
- Served over 1,000 people at expungement events and Know Your Rights workshops with rap sheet obtainment, expungement eligibility review, record expungement legal support and legal rights education.
- Cresco Labs employees committed hundreds of hours of support to provide education, legal, marketing and fundraising services to social justice-focused community organizations.
- Released the trailer for “The Sentence of Michael Thompson,” a documentary short film about the story of Michigan’s longest-serving non-violent offender. Granted clemency this past January, Thompson was serving a 60-year sentence in Muskegon Correctional Facility in Michigan for selling 3 pounds of cannabis to a police informant in 1994. The documentary will be released in 2022.
- Launched a microsite on the Cresco brand website that encouraged people and businesses to act on criminal justice reform through sharing personal stories, signing Last Prisoner Project’s (LPP) Time to Heal petition or sending a letter of support to people currently in prison for cannabis offenses.
- Contributed to the collection of more than 4,000 signatures, surpassing LPP’s goal, through a Sunnyside in store petition and the Cresco brand microsite. LPP’s Time to Heal campaign calls on President Biden to advance criminal justice reform by granting clemency for the tens of thousands of people incarcerated with federal cannabis convictions.