LAS VEGAS – The Hawthorne Gardening Company hosted a panel discussion about social justice reform during which participants explained challenges and offered potential solutions. The event took place during MJBizCon 2021.
In February, Hawthorne launched The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund with an initial investment of $2.5 million. Operating under the umbrella of The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation established by Hawthorne’s parent company, the fund supports nonprofit social justice organizations working toward criminal justice reforms and economic inclusion. Its initial focus is addressing problems caused by the disproportionate number of cannabis-related arrests and incarcerations involving persons of color. Later grants will focus on job creation, entrepreneurship, and increased investment opportunities in minority communities.
“We know people of color are disproportionately prosecuted for minor cannabis offenses, even though their use is on par with use by white people,” said Chris Hagedorn, executive vice president and division president for The Hawthorne Gardening Company. “This fact calls for the debate around cannabis reform to include a more urgent discussion about how the war on drugs has unfairly impacted people of color. It calls for us to use our voice and our resources to help individuals and communities that have felt the painful effects of prohibition.”
According to Amber Littlejohn, executive director for the Minority Cannabis Business Association, “Equal access to industry opportunity is paramount. More work is needed to ensure the industry, in states where authorized, can help balance the detrimental effects of the war on drugs by creating an equal playing field for all people to benefit from the changing legal landscape.”
Panelists for “Social Justice in the Cannabis Space” included moderator Kaliko Castille, president at Minority Cannabis Business Association; The Weldon Project cofounder and President Weldon Angelos; Minorities for Medical Marijuana founder and Chief Executive Officer Roz McCarthy; Steven Hawkins, Marijuana Policy Project Foundation executive director and U.S. Cannabis Council president and chief executive officer; LOWD CEO Jesce Horton; Fab Five Freddy, visual artist, filmmaker, and hip hop pioneer; and Last Prisoner Project founder Steve DeAngelo.