Chicago-based cannabis multistate operator Verano Holdings announced on Tuesday that it has entered a partnership with The Weldon Project to advance the goals of Mission Green, the nonprofit organization’s initiative advocating for clemency for those serving time for marijuana offenses. Under the partnership, Verano will support Mission Green with a nationwide fundraising campaign at the company’s nearly 100 retail cannabis locations.
“As a leading U.S.-based cannabis company, we share a common vision with Weldon Angelos and the Mission Green team to support cannabis clemency, and the continued fight for the repeal of cannabis prohibition that has disproportionately affected communities of color and incarcerated millions of non-violent offenders for decades,” George Archos, Verano founder and CEO, writes in an exclusive email.
55-Year Prison Sentence For Selling Weed
Weldon Angelos founded The Weldon Project after serving 13 years in federal prison for selling less than $1,000 worth of cannabis. A hip hop producer from Salt Lake City, Angelos had been nabbed by the feds after selling weed to an undercover officer on three occasions. Because Angelos also had a firearm when he was arrested, he was sentenced to 55 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, despite objections from the presiding judge.
The harsh sentence Angelos received for a nonviolent pot conviction arouse the attention of supporters including Sen. Corey Booker, a vocal advocate for ending the federal prohibition on marijuana, and other well-known personalities including billionaire Charles Koch and rap icon Snoop Dogg. After the federal judge who sentenced Angelos joined the call for clemency, President Barack Obama commuted the sentence in 2016 and Angelos was released from prison. In 2020, he was pardoned by President Trump in the waning days of his administration.
After his release, Angelos founded the The Weldon Project to advocate for offenders who were sentenced to prison for nonviolent drug offenses. Working directly with incarcerated individuals, lawmakers and government officials, the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization advances progress on criminal justice issues and advocates on behalf of currently or formerly incarcerated nonviolent drug offenders.
Mission Green Helps Nonviolent Cannabis Offenders
The Mission Green initiative provides unique opportunities for cannabis businesses and consumers to participate in the nationwide campaign aimed to provide relief to those who have been negatively impacted by marijuana prohibition. Mission Green’s cannabis clemency program is designed to secure the release of those serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses, as well as to create a pathway for pardons or expungements so that those who have been affected can move forward with their lives. The initiative also provides legal assistance, re-entry programs and additional support services for formerly incarcerated individuals without access to legal counsel.
“Our organization’s ability to meaningfully dismantle systemic injustices created by cannabis prohibition is further amplified when we partner with respected and established industry leaders like Verano,” Angelos writes. “We are proud to join forces with a team that shares our commitment to supporting communities disproportionately targeted by the War on Drugs and believe this national campaign will compel more Americans to demand impactful cannabis reforms from their lawmakers.”
Verano’s partnership with The Weldon Project includes an initial donation of $50,000 to Mission Green. Additionally, the company will match up to $13,000 in customer and patient-generated donations at its nearly 100 dispensaries across 13 states on the first Friday of each month beginning on June 3 and continuing through 2022, all to commemorate the 13 years Angelos spent in prison. The fundraising campaign will be featured exclusively at Verano’s flagship Zen Leaf and MÜV dispensaries, as well as additional retail locations the company operates across the country.
“After enduring 13 years behind bars for a minor cannabis-related offense himself, Weldon’s unique perspective, combined with the widespread support he’s earned from leaders across the political spectrum after years of impactful cannabis activism, positions him and the Mission Green team as ideal partners to help expand and elevate our actions in support of cannabis reform,” says Archos. “We’re proud to stand alongside The Weldon Project and Mission Green as we further scale and amplify our cannabis reform actions, with the goal of creating permanent, positive change for cannabis and our society at large.”