As more states legalize the recreational use of weed, attention has turned toward restorative justice—a philosophy that focuses on repairing the harms caused by cannabis laws that were rooted in racism. While that movement may sound impossibly large for one person to tackle, you actually can make a difference, in some instances, by simply paying attention to what you consume.
For example, we can patronize companies that give a portion of their profits to justice- and equity-based organizations. We can purchase products like Kites Pre-Rolls that donate 50 cents a pack to NuLeaf Project, which invests in cannabis businesses owned by people of color. We can even get high and look into the organizations listed below and hopefully find one (or a few) that resonate with our personal ethos.
Wherever you end up on the cannabis advocacy spectrum, offering support to those directly affected by America’s racist War on Drugs is one way to make your weed taste better (probably), your dabs last longer (possibly), and your stoner heart feel fuller (assuredly).
Oregon Handlers Fund
Founded by local activist, consultant and organizer Raina Casey, the chief mission of the Oregon Handlers Fund is to remove one of the primary barriers to employment in the cannabis industry: the $100 fee to obtain a Marijuana Worker Permit. The motive is to bring more BIPOC representation to an otherwise overwhelmingly white industry, reversing the stigma around Black cannabis use with straight-up representation. The nonprofit accepts donations in any amount. oregonhandlers.org
Voix Noire is an online platform that assists Black women, children and all Femme-identifying individuals via reparations from non-Black donors. Founded by writer and organizer Creighton Leigh, the organization accepts funds via Venmo and Square, and you can also purchase branded tees, tanks and hoodies from its online boutique. voixnoire.com
Color of Change
Color of Change is the largest online racial justice organization in the nation. The program builds campaigns around efforts to decriminalize poverty, end cash bail, stop prison expansion, and hold prosecutors accountable for implementing reforms. colorofchange.org
The Sentencing Project
For over 35 years, the Sentencing Project has been working to change the way we think about imprisonment and criminalization in America by promoting racial, ethnic, economic and gender justice. The research and advocacy center’s policies focus on voter eligibility, extreme sentencing, youth sentencing and positive community development. Its expansive site has resources for not just ways to make donations, but also explains ways to participate in letter-writing campaigns and encourages people to connect with their state and local leaders to enact change. sentencingproject.org
Prisoners Literature Project
This grassroots nonprofit’s sole goal is to encourage literacy among incarcerated people. Prisoners Literature Project delivers free books to anyone behind bars—from educational textbooks to fiction novels—in order to promote learning and critical thinking, and ultimately prepare individuals for successful lives upon their release. The organization is run entirely by volunteers, and all donations pay for postage, mailing supplies and highly sought after reading materials like dictionaries, which is the group’s No. 1 requested item. prisonlit.org
Cannabis is not a gateway drug, but for many it has been a gateway to the criminal justice system, which can feel impossible to navigate with any success. Nolef Turns aims to build a network of resources for people who have been convicted of a felony and then typically struggle with housing, employment, fines and family support after they’re released. The nonprofit also assists the children of incarcerated parents. nolefturns.org
Portland’s own NuProject is perhaps best known for helping launch a number of small, BIPOC-owned cannabusinesses after its launch in 2018. But the group’s advocacy doesn’t end with grants and zero-interest loans. It also arranges industry mentorships, provides networking services, and runs NuSchool, a combination of traditional accelerator and startup studio all with the goal of bringing more people of color into the cannabis industry. nuproject.org