NEW YORK – Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH), a multi-state, vertically integrated cannabis operator, today announced its partnership with Last Prisoner Project (LPP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to clemency and expungement, re-entry programs and advocacy for individuals with cannabis convictions. The partnership will launch on July 1 with a commitment to raise $250,000 through a customer donation program at all AWH retail locations, which includes a company match of $125,000.
As the leading private multi-state operator (MSO), AWH recognizes its urgent responsibility in dismantling an unjust justice system that disproportionately incarcerates Black and brown individuals for cannabis-related offences while legal companies are openly profiting off of the sales of the same plant.
AWH is the only MSO to match customer donations to benefit Last Prisoner Project. Starting on July 1, the company will launch a three tier approach to support and build awareness along with the corporate match to LPP. AWH retail locations will also ask customers to voluntarily donate one dollar to LPP at checkout. To further incentivize participation, the company will offer customers who donate to the program entry into a monthly raffle for a $250 gift certificate prize. AWH will be matching every dollar donated for a total of $250,000. To build awareness for LPP, retail locations will provide each customer with a postcard that features a story of a person who has been impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.
“As part of our company ethos, we’ve built external local partnerships to recruit and hire employees who come through re-entry programs and we offer record-sealing clinics, but we needed to do something bigger and more impactful, said Andrea Cabral,” CEO of Ascend Mass. “The harm caused by the over-policing and over-prosecution of Black and brown people, especially for cannabis, is ongoing and for many as relentless as it’s ever been. LPP’s precise mission and method is what drew us: Change laws, change policies, build job skills and support networks and above all “don’t stop until the last cannabis prisoner is released.”
AWH will incorporate Last Prisoner Project donations in all future dispensary launches to bring awareness to the organization and challenge state governments to reform local cannabis incarceration policies. In addition to donation matching, the program will also launch an e-commerce and text message campaign to benefit LPP. In the coming months, the company plans to launch a campaign in Illinois that will name a flower strain after a local LPP client, highlight the individual’s life story and donate a portion of product sales back to the individual.
“Our industry will only become more powerful when we work together to lift up those who have been harmed by these discriminatory policies,” said Mary Bailey, Managing Director of Last Prisoner Project. “I am encouraged to see large operators like AWH stepping up and recognizing the need for more social advocacy in the cannabis industry.”
“Legal companies can no longer stand idly by and profit off of cannabis while individuals like Michael Thompson are serving a 60 year sentence in Michigan for selling the same thing,” said Abner Kurtin, Founder of AWH. “This is the largest financial commitment made to LPP by an MSO and we are proud to lead the way towards corporate responsibility and providing greater financial commitments to LPP from the industry. We will work with LPP to encourage other companies to join us at the champion sponsor level.”
About Ascend Wellness Holdings
AWH is a market leading, vertically integrated operator with assets in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Jersey. AWH is breaking down traditional walls in the cannabis marketplace to provide easy and accessible products and exclusive brand partnerships. AWH owns and operates state-of-the-art cultivation facilities, growing award winning strains and producing curated selection of products with effect-based categorization. AWH operates, Illinois Supply and Provisions, and Ohio Provisions, and has a strategic partnership with Michigan Supply and Provisions. AWH produces and distributes Ozone branded products. For more information, visit www.awholdings.com