LOS ANGELES – besito, the LA-based cannabis brand known for their 2:1 balanced dose, brass hexagon shaped vapes, has announced a partnership with Equity First Alliance, with the release of a powerful campaign featuring advocates, formerly incarcerated individuals, and their family members, amplifying the voices of those impacted by the War on Drugs. The multi-media campaign puts an intimate and human face to those who have been most harmed, featuring the subjects’ compelling personal stories in their own environments. The campaign tagline, “A Record Shouldn’t Last A Lifetime,” is a call to action and urgent reminder of the moral obligation of those who are profiting off the legal cannabis industry to fight for equity and reparative justice.
In addition to the campaign, besito has committed to corporate social responsibility by providing sponsorship to National Expungement Week and donating 1% of all profits to Equity First Alliance, which will continue to support the nonprofit’s long term initiatives.
“At besito we believe it’s an enormous privilege to work in legal cannabis given the criminalization of this plant and sacrifices so many have made before us. The failed War on Drugs has ravaged communities–particularly communities of color–and we believe that it’s our industry’s moral imperative to help repair the harms caused. We’re honored to partner with Equity First Alliance and build reparative justice into our business model.” –Maggie Connors, besito Founder and CEO.
Through awareness, connection and storytelling, the campaign explores and illuminates the myriad of different ways people of color are discriminated against because of their previous convictions, from employment and education, to housing and healthcare.
The campaign is produced in collaboration with Tree Femme Collective, a womxn-owned creative agency and global community that works at the intersection of cannabis, media, education, and activism. Tree Femme Collective also sits on the leadership steering committee of Equity First Alliance.
The campaign was shot by photographer Thalia Gochez and directors Lauren Zubia Calsada and Ocean Vashti Jude. Filmed on location around Los Angeles, LA-based besito wanted to bring to stories from the Equity First Alliance community to life, giving a platform to marginalized voices and drawing attention to the many different ways people have been impacted by the drug war.
“We created this campaign to drive awareness around the non-negotiable need for community reinvestment and reparative justice for communities of color as legalization sweeps the country. It’s easy to feel disconnected and inundated with news headlines but storytelling encourages empathy. When we see the faces and hear the voices of the human beings who have been impacted by the racist war on drugs, we’re more likely to take action.” –Lauren Kruz, Tree Femme Collective Co-Founder and Creative Director
While thousands of people remain in prison for cannabis convictions, the legal cannabis industry is estimated to grow to $65B. The 2019 Farm Bill – which federally legalized hemp exponentially expanding the potential legal profits from the plant – specifically excludes people with prior cannabis convictions from participating. As legalization sweeps the nation, over half a million people – disproportionately people of color – are still without basic liberties because of cannabis charges that prevent access to education, housing and future employment.
besito’s campaign is a call to action for everyone participating in legal cannabis – whether profiting as a business or enjoying the benefits as a consumer – to take decisive action to advance equity in the industry.
“We have a short but vital window of opportunity to change the course of the cannabis industry — and by doing so, we can prevent further harms to the most impacted communities and create a model of transformative economic and criminal justice. We cannot achieve gains in equity without the staffing, power mapping, landscape analysis, convenings, toolkits, digital organizing, leadership development, and other aspects of infrastructure that allow for a movement to make change. We’re confronting a multi-billion dollar industry with a demonstrable opposition to equity, justice, and repair. Having cannabis companies understand their corporate social responsibility in supporting organizations doing this work is crucial to our success. We’re looking forward to creating sustainable resources for our community through our partnership with besito and any other brand wishing to demonstrate courageous leadership.” –Felicia Carbajal, Equity First Alliance, Leadership Steering Committee
Based in Los Angeles, besito makes super-stylish, low-THC vapes in three natural flavors. besito was founded by cannabis industry pioneer Maggie Connors in an effort to bring highly designed products to market in a way that gives back to the community. Under the direction of Connors, and creative director Ely Kim, the brand advocates for LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, and the advancement of scientific research in cannabis.
ABOUT EQUITY FIRST ALLIANCE
The mission of Equity First Alliance is to harness the political power of cannabis organizers that work at the intersection of the cannabis industry, racial equity and reparative justice. Through education, mobilization, dialogue, engagement and collective action, we work to advance equity in the cannabis industry, to repair harms of the War on Drugs, and to seek justice for those who have been most harmed by it. We come from a diverse range of communities nationwide, and we are in need of support in a time of moral crisis in this field.
ABOUT NATIONAL EXPUNGEMENT WEEK
National Expungement Week is a week of events across the U.S., organized by Equity First Alliance and Cage Free Repair, that offers expungement and other forms of legal relief to some of the 77 million Americans with convictions on their records.