Cage-Free Cannabis made its first donation this week, its first act of repair, and it came in the form of tacos. These tacos were special - made with love and provided at a generous discount by Revolutionario North African Tacos Sin Fronteras - because these tacos were destined for the All of Us or None-Southern California (AOUON-SC) chapter’s year-end celebration in Watts.
All of Us or None is a national grassroots group that organizes to reverse the discriminatory policies and practices affecting formerly incarcerated individuals. They have been instrumental in “Banning the Box” on job applications and passing wide-ranging sentencing reforms, especially in California.
AOUON was co-founded by A New Way of Life's Susan Burton, and Ms. Burton, as she’s known, was among the first to show faith in the Cage-Free Cannabis project. Earlier this year, she invited me to present at one of these organizing meetings, in the same room, at the same time on a Tuesday night. She let everybody else around the table decide whether to allow Cage-Free Cannabis to use their logo on our website, and they voted to allow it. I've since been back to one of these meetings to keep them updated on our progress and new developments in cannabis policy.
As the celebration dinner unfolded, text messages about the Alabama election results started lighting up my phone. It became clear that not only had Doug Jones won, but that Black people, and more specifically, Black women, had provided overwhelming support that propelled Jones to victory.
And because of a recently-passed law in Alabama, some of those voters are currently incarcerated. In Alabama. Think for a moment about how long it took some talented organizers to make that change. Those organizers include people like Pastor Kenneth Glasgow and The Ordinary People’s Society.
But in a meeting room in Watts, we weren’t talking about Alabama; we were celebrating a year of victories and discussing the tasks at hand. We welcomed to the meeting an elderly woman, Miss Maddie, who had not been free in 32 years.
Before the night closed, AOUON organizers made sure that every attendee was registered to vote. Then they asked if anyone would be willing to join them when they go to LA County Jails to register voters. (I signed up.)
If this all sounds quite local, that’s because it is. That’s what repair looks like. There are policy changes that Cage-Free advocates for as well, but to a certain extent, repair has always happened over dinners like that one. And that’s why we’ve named our non-profit arm Cage-Free Repair.
With our first, modest, donations, we will support the first three groups to believe in us: AOUON-SC, Welcome Home LA (a re-entry program), and Homies Unidos (an organizing group that focuses on Central American immigrant communities).
Soon, however, the donation decisions will be made by a Drug War Reparations Committee, composed entirely of people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system.
Come January 1st, Los Angeles will be the largest adult use (21+) marijuana market in the world. Billions of dollars, thousands of jobs are on the table, while in Alabama, selling any amount of cannabis is still a felony. Cannabis is local too.
And that’s why Cage-Free Cannabis and Cage-Free Repair exist, and why we’ll be launching to the wider world in 2018. We work to ensure this industry becomes sustainable, inclusive, and reparative.
As the year draws to a close, please consider giving to Cage-Free Repair, which is fiscally sponsored by the Social Good Fund. All donations are tax deductible.
You can click on this link to donate online - or you can mail a check made out to “Social Good Fund” (this is CRUCIAL: put “Cage-Free Repair” in the Memo line or we won’t see a dime) to:
Social Good Fund
PO Box 5473
Richmond, CA 94805
Thank you all so much,