USDA Approves Hemp Production Plans For Maine, Missouri, The Cow Creek Band Of Umpqua Tribe Of Indians

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the approval of hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Maine, Missouri and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, bringing the total number of approved plans to 58.

USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes. To review approved plans or check the status of a plan, visit the Status of State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans webpage.

State and tribal plans previously approved include:

States Tribes
Delaware Blackfeet Nation
Florida Cayuga Nation
Georgia Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
Iowa Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Kansas Chippewa Cree Tribe
Louisiana Colorado River Indian Tribes
Maryland Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Massachusetts Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Minnesota Fort Belknap Indian Community
Montana Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Nebraska Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
New Jersey La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes
Ohio Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
Pennsylvania Lower Sioux Indian Community
South Carolina Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Tennessee Oglala Sioux Tribe
Texas Otoe-Missouria Tribe
Washington Pala Band of Mission Indians
West Virginia Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Wyoming Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
Puerto Rico Pueblo of Picuris Tribe
U.S. Virgin Islands Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
Santa Rosa Cahuilla Indian Tribe
Santee Sioux Nation
Seneca Nation of Indians
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo
Yurok Tribe

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) directed USDA to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp and include provisions for USDA to approve hemp production plans submitted by states and Indian tribes. Accordingly, on Oct. 31, 2019, USDA issued an interim final rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and the provisions for USDA to approve submitted plans. State and tribal plans provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdictions to operate according to their individual plans and in compliance with federal laws.

For additional information about the program, visit the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program webpage.

125 Groups Urge Congressional Action On The MORE Act

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Drug Policy Alliance, and 123 other national and state organizations today called on House Leadership to swiftly advance the bipartisan Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act (H.R. 3884) to the House floor when Congress returns in September. The MORE Act, the most comprehensive marijuana justice legislation to be considered in Congress, is needed now more than ever to alleviate economic hardship caused by COVID-19 and meet the calls for justice reform echoing all across America.

“In November 2019, the House Judiciary Committee made history when it advanced the MORE Act, becoming the first congressional body to vote favorably for a marijuana de-scheduling bill. Since that time, the circumstances of 2020 have made the failed War on Drugs even more untenable and amplified the voices of those demanding transformation in our criminal legal system. In the face of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national dialogue on unjust law enforcement practices, marijuana reform as a modest first step at chipping away at the War on Drugs is more relevant and more pressing than ever before. The MORE Act remains the most effective and equitable way forward,” the groups said in the letter.

The MORE Act, a sweeping marijuana measure that addresses criminal justice reform, racial justice, and equity, would:

  • Remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policy, expanding research opportunities, and broadening access to medical marijuana to underserved populations such as veterans.
  • Emphasize reparative justice, establishing social equity programs that acknowledge those who have been most impacted under criminalization by building community infrastructure and diversifying the regulated marijuana marketplace.
  • Provide for the expungement and re-sentencing of marijuana offenses.
  • Prevent the government from denying an individual federal benefits, student financial aid, or security clearances needed to obtain government jobs because of marijuana use.
  • Protect non-citizens from immigration consequences due to marijuana activity, including non-citizens working in state-legal marijuana marketplaces.

The MORE Act is supported by the Marijuana Justice Coalition as well 125 national and state organizations.

The signatories and letter are available here.

House Approves Blumenauer Amendment To Protect Cannabis Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  As national support for federal marijuana legalization continues to climb, the U.S. House of Representatives today approved important legislation to protect state, territory, and tribal cannabis programs from federal interference.

The amendment, introduced by U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-CO), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), was approved 254–163 and would ensure legal cannabis programs in Oregon and dozens of other states, territories, and tribal lands are protected from Department of Justice intervention.

“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in our discriminatory past and have continued inflicting harm on communities of color. As the public’s views toward cannabis have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies follow suit and move toward restorative justice,” Lee said. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Reps. Blumenauer, McClintock, and Holmes Norton on this crucial amendment to protect the progress states, tribes, and territories have made toward ending the discriminatory war on drugs.”

A copy of the amendment approved Thursday by the House can be found here.

And here’s a video of Blumenauer speaking in support of the amendment today on the House floor.

Are We Sleeping On The Women In Cannabis Media?

Recently, 420MEDIA CEO Kerri Accardi sat down with Tracy Lamourie for MJ News to discuss the exciting launch of her groundbreaking new venture A New Cannabis Channel

Here’s a peek into that conversation:

TRACY LAMOURIE: You have been doing some amazing things in the media and the cannabis space, and now you are combining the two in a way that I don’t think people are seeing just how groundbreaking it is!

KERRI ACCARDI: Maybe that’s because we didn’t Press Release our every move!

TRACY: Right! But now you are finally ready to let some of the secrets out! Can you tell us a little bit about the exciting things you have got going right now?

KERRI: Absolutely! I’m the founder of 420MEDIA, a full-service marketing and content creation agency.  Over the past 6 years we have been documenting the legalization of cannabis in the US. Currently we are in the process of launching a cannabis TV channel across ROKU, Apple TV, Firestick TV, Android TV, two mobile apps and online, with original programming, including a docu-series.

We are bringing education through entertainment with unprecedented opportunities for targeted advertising to cannabis and CBD companies.  We are super excited to take a very fragmented space and streamline the information to the mainstream while showcasing products and services in a way the public has yet to see.

There are so many people that they hear about CBD or they hear about the benefits of cannabis,  but they don’t know where to find a product or even worse they try a product that’s called CBD and it doesn’t work and right away they’re judging CBD as nonsense, but when you read the bottle it’s really hemp seed oil or something that doesn’t have CBD in it at all.

We really want to help guide people seeking knowledge. At the end of the day, we all have an endocannabinoid system with receptors for the plant on a molecular level. I don’t think the majority of people really understand that – and when they do it’s going to be a game changer.

TRACY: Absolutely- you’re talking education, you’re talking entertainment, the business of cannabis, literally anything relating to cannabis you will find on this channel. I know to bring something like this together doesn’t happen alone and you really have been able to gather an incredible team, some big names not just from cannabis but from the advertising world, from the world of marketing, from the world of media – you are bringing them all together, can you tell us about some of the people you have behind you and some of their experiences before joining you on this groundbreaking project in the world of cannabis.

KERRI: We have a phenomenal team that has come together absolutely from the mainstream industry. We have Emmy award winners; we have advertising executives – in fact the person who is creating our logo created one of the most iconic advertising campaigns I think ever in the world!

TRACY: Unbelievable!

KERRI: We will put names and more information and promo out over the next few weeks.

TRACY: I’m excited to see this develop. Can you tell me some more about the content, and I know it is incredible – you have got people at the top of their industries from athletics to the medical fields, not just one doctor but probably ten from across America – can you tell us a little bit about the content and the experience of gathering that over the years? I know it is a literal library, or a museum of cannabis history over the last few years.

KERRI:  Yes -we have a massive library of professionally filmed content – literally over 300 pioneers- on camera plus products, music, panels and speakers, and original programming.

Super bowl champion Marvin Washington hosts one of our series which explores cannabis from an athlete’s perspective. We have him in a CBD lab, pharmacy, events, as well as closed sets interviewing fellow NFL players and nurses – so it really is different insights coming through him.

Then we have another series hosted by a nurse and educator Heather Manus that is more geared to the medicinal side of the plant. What is the endocannabinoid system? Dosing, our receptors, what are the products and the different methods of ingestion and how does it affect us. Why is this plant working for people? We have another series called “Faces Of Cannabis” featuring over 30 pioneers sharing their story and insight into cannabis – from Wanda James who is on Netflix right now, to a child named Landon Riddle who is cancer free for seven years and he is nine years old to Dr Dina, the women the show “Weeds” was based on. We have a lot.

To me, in a time that is so divisive – to have over 300 people on camera to camera of different ages, ethnicities, and financial backgrounds that agree on one thing is pretty powerful.

TRACY: I know you have spoken in the past about the personal part of your mission.

KERRI: It’s super simple. I left New York on December 10th, 2013 I left on a mission to educate the world about cannabis.  My Aunt Kathy died. My best friend, my mentor, my everything. She died, and she didn’t have to. She definitely didn’t have to suffer like I watched.

I knew that no one would listen to me unless I knew what I was talking about, so I started at the bottom, literally – learning how to grow, meeting with patients, doctors, growers, lobbyists and more. This was back in 2013 in CA – it was a much different world.

In January 2014 NY quazi- legalized medical cannabis through executive order and thus 420MEDIA was born.

TRACY: What a journey. Somewhere your aunt is smiling down on you right now saying, ‘WOW! I inspired all this.’  You really are changing the world with this.  That’s not just language, people are going to see that as this develops – it’s going to be epic.

KERRI: What people don’t understand is that cannabis isn’t new, this medicine isn’t new, even the cannabis industry isn’t new – it’s new in the regulated space. California has been legal-ish for over twenty years and has been helping thousands of people.

TRACY : Now let’s talk a little about the business of cannabis, and I know from a business perspective it’s often difficult to get your message out in the space, struggles around advertising, struggles around restrictions and limitations on social media, lots of barriers about getting your message out there that we don’t face in messaging with other consumer products. So what you are doing is absolutely valuable to people in the cannabis marketing space.  Can you tell us a little bit about this really unprecedented advertising opportunity?

KERRI:  Everything was born out of a problem, and the problem is that brands do not have a place to advertise consistently. I learned about this over the past 6 years of owning an agency and having different television deals and advertising opportunities. They can just change their mind and the rules and the pricing and all sorts of craziness. This was created to enhance cannabis brands and products and give them a place to advertise and share their information very similar to television and TV commercials and when we go back into production we will have opportunity for product placement and sponsorships, so it is a space that will literally give brands the opportunity to showcase their product in high level content that has a truly targeted audience – because you aren’t coming to this channel to watch a baseball game.  You are coming to this channel to learn about cannabis

What’s the value of your athlete CBD cream being seen in a series hosted by a Super Bowl champion who also happens to have a case going to the Supreme Court over the legality of cannabis? What does it mean to have your brand showcased amongst medical professionals discussing the benefits of cannabis?

TRACY: So right now, can companies get involved? Right now, is there opportunity?

KERRI: Yes! What we are doing now, given the COVID-19 situation, is selling permanent placement in three of our series where we will build in commercials to showcase those brands and services. If you are in a series with Marv Washington, for example, you are in there forever. So, brands are getting multiple digital assets and a lifetime value. If they don’t have a commercial, we can have it created for a slight up-charge. If they do have a commercial, they can send it to us, and it will literally be edited in as if it was a part of that series. It is only for our inaugural series!

TRACY: So right now, anyone can get in on the ground floor, in there forever, they can basically write their own story right now as far as where they want to be.  As a publicist and a marketing person, I’m definitely excited about this for my own brand and for my clients, it’s great to be able to get in on the very beginning.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Applauds Passage of Amendment to Protect State, Territory, and Tribal Cannabis Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, today applauded the passage of the Blumenauer, McClintock, Holmes Norton, Lee amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Department funding bill. The measure, which would prevent the Department of Justice from using its funds to impede the implementation of cannabis programs in states, territories, and tribes, passed in a 254-163 vote. 

“For far too long, our federal cannabis policies have been rooted in our discriminatory past and have continued inflicting harm on communities of color. As the public’s views toward cannabis have evolved, Congress has a responsibility to ensure that our policies follow suit and move toward restorative justice,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “I’m proud to have worked alongside Reps. Blumenauer, McClintock, and Holmes Norton on this crucial amendment to protect the progress states, tribes, and territories have made toward ending the discriminatory war on drugs.”

“The American people are demanding a change to our outdated cannabis laws and I am glad to see my colleagues heeding their calls,” said Rep. Blumenauer, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “As we work to ultimately end the senseless prohibition of cannabis and the failed war on drugs, these amendments will help ensure the protection of legal state, territory and tribal cannabis programs.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Defense Bill Amendment Removes DOD CBD/Hemp Prohibition

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, secured an amendment to the annual national defense bill that would ensure that the U.S. Department of Defense may not prohibit the possession, use, or consumption of hemp products — in compliance with applicable Federal, State, and local law — by servicemembers. This would apply to hemp that meets the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 definition (amended by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018). The Gabbard amendment was included in the final version of the bill which passed on Tuesday, 295-125, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

“There is great research being done around hemp, resulting in new products coming to market that are proven to help with ailments like insomnia, inflammation, chronic pain, epilepsy, Traumatic Brain Injury, Post-Traumatic Stress and more. Hemp products provide a form of treatment that serves as an alternative option for those who would rather pursue natural remedies rather than prescription drugs. This amendment passed with strong bipartisan support, ensuring our servicemembers have access to the same over-the-counter products that Americans all across the country benefit from today,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The 2018 Farm Bill, known as the Agricultural Improvement Act, legalized hemp, defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with extremely low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis). Currently, many over-the-counter products are sold that meet these parameters.

Pritzker Administration Announces Fourth Month Sales Totals For Illinois Adult Use Cannabis

State’s new adult-use cannabis industry generated more than $37 million in sales in April

ILLINOIS: The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has announced preliminary numbers show statewide adult-use cannabis sales in April totaled $37,260,497.89. Dispensaries across the state sold 818,954 items over the 30-day period. Sales to Illinois residents totaled $29,735,650.41, while sales to out-of-state residents totaled $7,524,847.47. These figures do not include taxes collected. A portion of every cannabis sale will be reinvested in communities harmed most by the failed war on drugs.

Medical and adult use cannabis dispensaries remain open as part of the essential businesses and operations named in Governor Pritzker’s executive order signed on March 20, 2020. Both sides of the cannabis industry were included to ensure the cannabis supplier industry protects medical cannabis patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the revenue generated by adultuse cannabis sales funds the important social justice and equity goals at the core of Illinois’ adult-use law.

“Our top priority is to ensure consumers are safe when they go to a dispensary to purchase cannabis,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Gov. Pritzker. “The steps we’ve taken to increase social distancing at dispensaries are accomplishing that, while also enabling this new industry to continue to grow. As such, curbside pickup will remain an option for medical cannabis users to obtain the product they need through May 30.”

Dispensaries are permitted to sell medical cannabis outside of their limited access area on their property or on a public walkway or curb adjacent to the dispensary. Medical cannabis patients will be able to continue to utilize their designated caregiver to purchase medicine for them. However, dispensaries may not deliver medical cannabis to a patient or caregiver’s home. These rules do not apply to adult-use cannabis sales; those must still take place inside the limited access area. A complete list of the rules extended may be found here.

Senator Harris, Colleagues Call On Congressional Leaders To Ensure Cannabis Small Businesses Can Access Emergency SBA Loan & Grant Programs

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday joined Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and 7 of their Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Congressional leadership calling for forthcoming COVID-19 relief legislative packages to allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and indirect cannabis small businesses to access loan and emergency grant programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

In the letter, the Senators highlight the failings of current regulations that exclude small businesses with “direct” or “indirect” products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). These outdated regulations have left taxpaying, state-legal cannabis small businesses behind during this crisis.

“The cannabis industry supports more than 240,000 workers in the United States, spanning 33 states and the District of Columbia. Some of these jobs have already been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, and there is significant risk of greater job loss in the coming months. Many cannabis businesses are small-to-medium size operators, and some have been ordered to close to comply with state public health safety measures without having access to the same support systems in place as other small businesses in different sectors,” wrote the Senators.

“Given the nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that every American small business has the capacity to protect the health and economic wellbeing of their community and workforce. Therefore, we ask Senate Leadership to include in any future relief package provisions to allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and the small businesses who work with this industry to access the critical SBA support they need during these challenging and unprecedented times,” concluded the Senators.

In addition to Harris, Rosen, and Wyden, the letter was signed by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer:

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to address the needs of the American people during the COVID-19 crisis. We write to ask that forthcoming COVID-19 relief legislation allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and indirect marijuana small businesses to access emergency loan and grant programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program will allow these small businesses to keep their workers on payroll and prevent further job losses that are devastating the economy. The coronavirus crisis demands relief for all workers and businesses, no matter the sector.

The cannabis industry supports more than 240,000 workers in the United States, spanning 33 states and the District of Columbia. Some of these jobs have already been lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, and there is significant risk of greater job loss in the coming months. Many cannabis businesses are small-to-medium size operators, and some have been ordered to close to comply with state public health safety measures without having access to the same support systems in place as other small businesses in different sectors.

SBA’s current regulations exclude small businesses with “direct” or “indirect” products or services that aid the use, growth, enhancement, or other development of cannabis from SBA-backed financing, including PPP and EIDL. Consequently, small business owners in states with some form of legal cannabis must choose between remaining eligible for SBA loan programs, or doing business with or in a rapidly-growing and legal industry.

Workers at state-legal cannabis small businesses are no different from workers at any other small business—they show up to work every day, perform their duties, and most importantly, work to provide for their families. This lack of access to SBA assistance for cannabis small businesses will undoubtedly lead to unnecessary layoffs, reduced hours, pay cuts, and furloughs for the workers who need support the most. The COVID-19 outbreak is no time to permit outdated federal policy to stand in the way of the reality that state-legal cannabis small businesses are sources of economic growth and financial stability for thousands of workers and families.

Given the nature of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that every American small business has the capacity to protect the health and economic wellbeing of their community and workforce. Therefore, we ask Senate Leadership to include in any future relief package provisions to allow state-legal cannabis small businesses and the small businesses who work with this industry to access the critical SBA support they need during these challenging and unprecedented times.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

USDA, DEA Provide Options For Labs, Disposal Of Non-Compliant Hemp Plants

usda-logoDISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the delay of enforcement of certain requirements under the interim final rule (IFR) establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program.

Under the new guidance, USDA will delay enforcement of the requirement for labs to be registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the requirement that producers use a DEA-registered reverse distributor or law enforcement to dispose of non-compliant plants under certain circumstances. Enforcement will be delayed starting this crop year and until Oct. 31, 2021, or the final rule is published, whichever comes first.

“Because currently there isn’t sufficient capacity in the United States for the testing and disposal of non-compliant hemp plants, USDA has worked hard to enable flexibility in the requirements in the Interim Final Rule for those issues,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach.

Laboratory Testing

Laboratory testing for the purposes of determining compliance under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program can be conducted by labs that are not yet registered with DEA. The laboratories must still meet all the other requirements in the IFR.

All laboratories engaged in the testing of hemp through this interim period will be subject to the same compliance requirements of the IFR. Specifically, labs must adhere to the standards of performance as outlined within the IFR, including the requirement to test for total THC employing post-decarboxylation or other similarly reliable methods. All labs will have to make arrangements to be compliant with registration requirements before this period of delayed enforcement expires. DEA will evaluate all applications using the criteria required by the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 823(f)).

Disposal

Based on feedback from states and tribes, and in consultation with DEA, USDA has identified additional options for the disposal of “hot” hemp plants. Some of these new options include, but are not limited to, plowing under non-compliant plants or composting into “green manure” for use on the same land. The new methods are intended to allow producers to apply common on-farm practices for the destruction of non-compliant plants.

Hemp that tests greater than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis must be disposed of onsite according to the disposal methods approved by USDA. The state, tribe or the state’s department of agriculture will be responsible for establishing protocols and procedures to ensure non-compliant hemp is appropriately destroyed or remediated in compliance with applicable state, tribal and federal law.

A list of allowed disposal techniques and descriptions is available on the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program web page.

“One of the top considerations in making these changes was the desire to provide additional options that minimize, to the extent possible, the resource impact to state and local law enforcement in handling hemp that is out of compliance,” said Under Secretary Ibach.

“We look forward to partnering with producers, states, tribes and other stakeholders to deliver regulations that work for everyone,” said Under Secretary Ibach.

Viola Launches Viola Cares With National Non-Profit Organization Root And Rebound

Social Impact Initiative Aims to Destigmatize Minority Representation and Increase Social Equity Within the Cannabis Industry

CALIFORNIA: Viola, a nationwide leader in the production and sale of premium quality cannabis products founded by NBA veteran Al Harrington, today announced the official launch of its social equity initiative – Viola Cares. Through education, equitable offerings, expungement, and incubation programs, the initiative will result in more than 10,000 jobs, hundreds of new business owners and expanded industry diversity by increasing representation, facilitating community building and providing employment opportunities.

Viola’s first strategic alliance within its Viola Cares program kicks-off with Root & Rebound. Root & Rebound is home to lawyers and advocates committed to restoring power and resources to the communities most harmed by mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. Their work combines direct legal services with systems-changing policy advocacy and public education, in an effort to move society toward greater racial and economic equity, justice, collective liberation and intergenerational healing. Their educational resources like the California Roadmap to Reentry, the Reentry Planning Toolkit, the National Fair Chance Housing Toolkit, and others have supported thousands of people as they work to navigate the collateral consequences of an arrest or conviction history.

Viola, in conjunction with Root and Rebound, will produce a first-of-its-kind toolkit designed specifically for people with cannabis-related convictions, to be entitled: “A New Leaf: A ‘How-To Guide’ for Successful Reentry After A Cannabis Conviction.”

“At Viola, we live and breathe the belief that a cannabis conviction should never be considered a life sentence,” said Al Harrington, Founder, Viola. “In joining forces with Root and Rebound, we will look to help those communities of color who have historically been the victims of cannabis-related incarceration and who have fallen on hard times, and turn those struggles into opportunities for success within this rapidly growing industry.”

Opportunity within the cannabis industry only continues to grow as legalization progresses and passes into law across the country, and Viola is breaking the barrier of entry for minorities to contribute to that growth through cultivation and entrepreneurship.

“We’re honored to be working side-by-side with Viola on such an important initiative–one that positively impacts thousands who have been unfairly stigmatized by their prior cannabis-related incarceration,” Katherine Katcher, Founder and Executive Director of Root and Rebound. “Together we’re changing that conversation, leveling the playing field for minorities and creating opportunities for those deserving of a second chance.”

In celebration of the strategic alliance between Viola and Root and Rebound, Viola will host a welcome reception and panel discussion in support of the launch of “A New Leaf” toolkit at the Viola headquarters in Los Angeles on February 26, 2020. A moderated panel hosted by Viola CMO Ericka Pittman will include Katherine Katcher, Eliana Green, and Sandra Johnson from the Root & Rebound team, along with Al Harrington and Dan Pettigrew, Co-Founders of Viola moderated by Van Lathan.