The drug war has kept people of color out of the weed industry, and the Cage-Free Cannabis Organization is striving to fix that.
The Los Angeles-based organization has two critical roles in the emerging U.S. cannabis industry: Cage-Free Consulting, which advocates for social responsibility within the cannabis industry, and Cage-Free Repair, the nonprofit branch of the organization that actually helps people expunge and/or seal their criminal records.
“Black people have traditionally been almost four times as likely to be criminalized for participating in the cannabis industry, whether as a consumer or on the supply side,” explained the organization’s co-founder, Adam Vine.
Cage-Free started when Vine saw the cannabis industry was excluding certain communities.
“I saw that, as this industry was really developing, more jobs, more profits were being created, but I didn’t see them come back to those communities that have been disproportionately harmed be the war on drugs” he explained.
Cage-Free helps coordinate and plan events like National Expungement Week, where the organization helped 298 people get their records expunged.
And while much of the work Cage-Free currently does is on the West Coast, as more and more states legalize weed, Vine believes equity should be a concern and it should be address in the language of legislation.