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Ben & Jerry’s is making sure weed legalization doesn’t leave POC behind

On 4/20, also known as the nation’s weed day, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream released a short, powerful video reminding us about how far we still have to go in the ongoing decriminalization of marijuana, and in remedying racial disparities under the law.

Ben & Jerry’s argues that despite the increasing legalization of marijuana at the state level, Black people are still getting arrested at a disproportional rate to white people. Thus far, 10 states and Washington DC have legalized recreational marijuana for individuals over 21, and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

In a link attached to Ben & Jerry’s video — which has racked up 305k likes and 137,000+ RT’s on Twitter — the company notes that in Alaska, where weed is legalized, “Black people are still being arrested 10 times more than whites. In DC, they’re arrested four times more. In Colorado? Three times.”

The ice cream giant is calling on Congress to expunge marijuana convictions and “provide pardons/amnesty to anyone whose only crime was possession of cannabis.” They attached a petition at the bottom of the page for this Congressional campaign.

Though Ben & Jerry’s video was met with widespread enthusiasm, some people felt uneasy about a giant corporation possibly co-opting a social justice movement, and using it to hawk their ice cream.

For instance, the brand argued that “legalization without justice is Half Baked,” a reference to their popular ice cream flavor. Additionally, Ben and Jerry’s partnered with Caliva, a popular marijuana dispensary based in the San Francisco Bay Area, to give away free pints of Half Baked for all delivery orders on 4/20.

But I believe when a company has a huge platform, why not use it for good? I also believe that their commitment to the cause is not just surface level (as many corporations who supposedly support social-justice movements are).

That is to say, they’re not just voicing their support because it looks good for their brand, but backing it up with a call to action.

Even in their partnership with Caliva is based on activism. Proving this the dispensary donated 4.2% of its sales on 4/20 to Code for America’s Clear My Record Program, which helps individuals who have been arrested in relation to marijuana possession.

Ben & Jerry’s marketing manager Justin Gural stated,

“Knowing that Caliva is challenging the status quo of bogarting human rights of non-violent offenders — and providing these communities a second chance — is exactly the 420 effort we want to support.”

It’s time to do better, to give communities a second chance, and remember who 4/20 is really for.