By Amandalyn Vanover
In the wake of National Weed Day 2019, Ben & Jerry’s made a powerful blunt statement about social injustice, racial inequality, and cannabis reform. They did it in a number of ways and messages. They took to Twitter offering free Half-Baked ice cream (a mix of vanilla and chocolate infused with pieces of fudge brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough) to customers of the marijuana dispensary Caliva in California who placed new orders on Friday and Saturday. Taking the campaign to their fans and followers, B&J is planning on getting them involved in their criminal goals of wiping out racial injustice. A Twitter message on 4/20 from Ben & Jerry’s reads, “Stock up for the holiday! Order delivery from @gocaliva or shop their #SanJose, CA dispensary and get a FREE pint of Half Baked! Order here.”
Caliva is donating 4.20% of their total sales from National Weed Day to the non-profit Code for America’s Clear My Record Program, an optional service piloting in parts of California for people who want to clear their pot-related convictions. Justin Gural, Ben & Jerry’s marketing manager says that Caliva and Code for America are providing the 420 effort they are looking to support.
Our friends at @gocaliva will be donating 4.20% of their profits on 4/20 to @codeforamerica in recognition of their project Clear My Record, which works to give people a second chance by clearing cannabis records. All the more reason to celebrate the holidays! pic.twitter.com/wSDDrejoq1
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) April 20, 2019
They didn’t stop their support there. Part of the campaign includes a Twitter message and video about black injustice and the marijuana drug war. On Twitter during National Weed Day 2019, @benandjerrys posted, “It’s hard to celebrate 4/20 when so many people of color are still being arrested for pot. We have to do better. Learn more: benjerrys.co/2Xn8vr2”
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) April 20, 2019
When you visit their website to read the article, you first see an ad that says “legalization without justice is half-baked” (and there is a visual of three marijuana buds in the ad). The article starts on a high note, talking about the widespread legalization of marijuana and how fans and stoners alike can celebrate. They point out the pot culture across the U.S. and boast that it’s a pretty slim chance you will be hassled by the cops on 4/20 if you’re doing your thing.
That is, if you are a white person.
Yep, truth. The situation screams in outrage as people of color are arrested way more than whites for either enjoying or possessing the exact same substance.
This is what B&J’s website reads: “Sorry to bring you down, but that’s the harsh reality. If you love pot AND you’re white, everything is totally awesome these days. In 2017, 81% of cannabis executives were white. Meanwhile, even in states where pot is legal, and even though black people and white people use pot at similar rates, Black people are still arrested way more often than whites. We love 4/20 and we love legalization, but that’s not OK.”
The demand to Congress from Ben & Jerry’s is simple – expunge and clear the records of anyone with cannabis convictions. Addressing people across America, Ben & Jerry’s encourages more than pot use. They are urging the public to visit their website to sign a petition demanding Congress take fair marijuana reform action. At last check early on 4/22, the petition is already at 32,954 signatures.
The partnership between Caliva and Ben & Jerry’s was borne to promote awareness about the inequalities that exist for specific groups, most especially people of color. They are equally spreading awareness about the inequality between the people who go to jail for marijuana and those who use it and don’t get incarcerated.
According to Ben & Jerry’s website they say, “In states where pot is legal, and even though Black people and white people use pot at similar rates, Black people are still arrested way more often than whites. The country has shifted its perspective on legalization over the years, with 60% of the public now in favor. What’s troubling is that the criminal justice system hasn’t kept up with the culture.”
The war on marijuana has led to mass incarceration, yet failed miserably in reducing marijuana availability and usage. With the criminal justice system lagging behind new laws, there seems to be more trouble than ever. In 2017, 46.9% of all drug arrests were Latino or Black, although these two groups only make up 31.5% of the population. According to the ACLU, blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites are, although marijuana usage is about equal among the two races.
The ACLU shares the fact that a greater number of 18 to 25-year-old whites smoke pot than their same-age black counterparts even though arrest numbers show different. In 2010, Minnesota, D.C., Iowa, and Illinois were 7.5 to 8.5 times more likely to arrest blacks than whites for having weed. In May 2018, Vox reported NYC blacks are 8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than whites. On top of it all, states waste close to $4 billion annually enforcing marijuana laws.
How do you think the states could put the money to better use rather than locking up black people whose only crime is the possession of a plant legal in over half of the United States? Schools. Roads. Mental health care. Senior care. Food programs to feed children. Job training for the homeless. Veteran resources. The list goes on and on. I mean, 2/3 of the United States has legalized medical marijuana, with Oklahoma and Utah being the newest additions, so it’s nearly senseless to see so much money being thrown down the drain for all the wrong reasons.
When you are wondering how your tax dollars are being spent, you can count on states using billions to carry out mass racial bias, as arrest data consistently shows the significant trend, there is no denying it. On top of it, every .01 hours another person is being arrested for simply having marijuana. How is it possible that 6 out of every 10 Americans support marijuana legalization (62%), yet nearly half of all drug arrests are marijuana related? How is it marijuana is medically legal in 33 states, yet blacks and minorities are still being arrested around the clock for possessing the substance?
Ben & Jerry’s, the ACLU, organizations, non-profits, companies, and activists continue to push for smart and fair marijuana drug reform. Other companies are on the 4/20 train too, pushing the holiday and the plant to become even more mainstream. Lyft credited customers with $4.20 on 4/20; a Carl’s Jr restaurant in Denver presented customers with a CBD hamburger Saturday; Pizza Hut offered their famous Hershey’s Triple Chocolate Brownie for just $4.20 to those seeking munchies; and Boston Market offered a free Rotisserie Chicken Pot Pie with the purchase of another Pot Pie and drink to their customers celebrating the holiday, too.
While 22 states have removed the threat of jail time for marijuana possession or have decriminalized cannabis altogether, there is still much more work to do and progress to be made before the war on marijuana and racial inequality can be considered over.
The rising CBD market is helping, as it is creating a path for wider marijuana acceptance. The CBD market (THC-Free) is exploding across the United States, where coast to coast a CBD product can be found in nearly every gas station and health store. The product has expanded into all types of consumer products – coffee, candles, creams, food, dietary supplements, drinks, lotions, perfumes, and soaps, just to name some.
CBD has a popular reputation for migrating pain, squashing anxiety, and reducing inflammation (although more scientific research is needed for concrete numbers and claims).
Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Caliva to call on Congress publicly to provide amnesty, pardons, and expungements to anyone whose ONLY crime was marijuana possession. Cities like San Francisco and Seattle are already doing it. They say that it’s time to take the initiatives national.
This isn’t the first time Ben & Jerry’s has made a political statement about the charged topic of discrimination against blacks and racial inequality in America’s criminal justice system. Read Ben & Jerry’s take on criminal justice reform and other important social issues they are standing for on their website.