Is the Marijuana Industry Ready to Put Its Money Where Its Guilt Is?
She’s a white weed bitch. She listens to Snoop Dogg half-ironically while zoning out in Whoopi Goldberg’s THC/CBD-infused menstrual soak, and she would never attend Coachella without a glimmering gold Firefly vape in hand (or fanny pack). She got into CBD briefly, when everyone else did, but now has reverted back to the hard stuff. She’s never been punished for smoking pot, unless you count that one time her mom found her stash and grounded her. And he, his pockets lined with capital rich for the investing, is seeking a new opportunity in the burgeoning legal cannabis market, where he recognizes a gold mine when he sees it. She’s going to buy what his money funds, at a California dispensary perhaps, or at whatever retail system Illinois cooks up. No one above the law will bat an eye. But outside this sparkling clean weed bubble are people still stuck below the law, sitting in prison for nonviolent offenses that are no longer illegal. They can’t make money off this new legal market. They can’t even go home. Cannabis, for all its promise in America, has never been the cause of more inequality.
The transfer of money: That’s what it took for Eric Rachmany, front man of the reggae band Rebelution, to start to feel angry about weed. Not angry like that weed bitch’s mom. He’d been smoking the stuff since he was a teen in San Francisco, when listening to the reggae greats showed him that marijuana didn’t send you barreling down the road to destruction. It could, he found, be a spiritual tool to achieve a higher level of consciousness, a stronger connection to the earth, and also a damn good cure for what ailed him. Angry because it was his band’s success that made selling marijuana products under the Rebelution name a possibility at all, which prompted him to face an uncomfortable truth.
Today, Rachmany and his band are profiting off the legal marijuana industry when not 10 years ago, that would’ve been called drug dealing, and it could’ve landed them in jail. “It makes me angry thinking that there are people locked away for cannabis offenses, nonviolent cannabis offenses,” Rachmany told me this fall. “But instead of just being angry, I think the best way to go about this is to raise funds for these people that need to get out of prison.” Enter Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit organization founded by Steve DeAngelo, the so-called “father” of the cannabis industry and founder of several cannabis businesses, his brother Andrew DeAngelo, and Dean Raise, aiming to advocate for the freedom of these prisoners. Rachmany eagerly joined its board as an advisor, along with other marijuana-adjacent celebrities like Stephen and Damian Marley, as well as ambassadors like Melissa Etheridge and Willie Nelson, all who have their own cannabis projects.
Published: January 22, 2020
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News