While April 20 is regarded as a day of cannabis consumption and celebration for millions of people, many continue to suffer from the war on drugs. Additionally, the rights of communities, patients, and others continue to go underrepresented on a day centered on cannabis and its importance.
One group aims to use the day after 4/20 to shine a light on these issues and start the conversation around a fair and equitable market for all.
On April 21, 2019, a New York-based advocacy group called Four Twenty One For All Inc. (421 Co.) will launch an inaugural fundraising event dedicated to “promoting awareness of cannabis legalization issues related to criminal justice reform, social and economic empowerment, patient rights, environmental protectionism, and inclusion/diversity/access matters,” according to the group's published mission statement.
The kickoff event will livestream the 421 For All Fête, a performance featuring artists, entertainers, and activists involved in the cannabis movement. The event emanates from New York City's Chelsea Music Hall, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern time. Mary Jane Gibson and Mike Glazer of the popular Weed + Grub podcast will host the event with guests tuning into the livestream on the 421 For All website.
The group aims to raise awareness of lingering issues around cannabis, said veteran events producer Sky Cohen, an organizer of the event and the 421 Co.
“We want to make the numbers 421 synonymous with the keystones of cannabis justice — criminal justice reform, socioeconomic empowerment, patients rights, environmental protectionism, and inclusion/diversity/access matters," Cohen wrote in an email.
"Every April 21, [and] every time the clock reads 4:21, we want people to realize that the fight for cannabis reform doesn't end simply because people can legally consume the plant," he said.Every April 21, and every time the clock reads 4:21, we want people to realize that the fight for cannabis reform doesn't end simply because people can legally consume the plant. Click To Tweet
Cohen explained why the event takes place the day after the cannabis community's largest holiday.
"We felt that the unadulterated consumption celebrations of April 20th, or 420, required follow-up and follow-through conversations around the collateral consequences of 80-plus years of cannabis prohibition,” Cohen said. “There's no better day than the very next day, April 21, to have that conversation and commence education and advocacy around these must-haves in legislation."
The livestream aims to touch on a series of pressing topics in cannabis that often go overlooked by 420 celebrations. They include the disproportionate arrest rates people of color experience despite similar usage rates among whites and he impact on communities experiencing those arrests. Other discussions investigate the plight of those incarcerated for cannabis offenses, patient access concerns, and the lack of comprehensive environmental considerations in legislation.
Proceeds from the evening will benefit groups on the front line of the cannabis movement. They include the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Cage-Free Repair, National Bail Out, and Veterans Health Solutions.
In addition to Cohen, 421 Co.'s core team includes Cristina Buccola, a hemp attorney, adviser, and advocate who is active in cannabis policymaking and political campaigns; Matthew Evertsen, the co-founder and executive producer of the 2017 and 2018 Vegas Cannabis Summit; Tracey Henry, owner of the cannabis-focused strategy and public relations firm Tracey Henry Consulting/THC.
Buccola further clarified the goal of the 421 movement in a statement, noting the shortcomings in cannabis laws and regulations: “Cannabis legalization all too frequently omits meaningful criminal justice reforms, fails to repair communities that have borne the brunt of prohibition, doesn't require diverse economic, ownership, and educational opportunities, and forgets to protect patients' rights and our environment.”
“We can no longer create regulated frameworks for cannabis commercialization at the expense of these considerations,” she added.
Cohen explained that 421 Co. was born out of frustration. "State cannabis legalization measures were not focused on the reformation of our criminal justice framework. They weren't providing diverse economic, ownership, and educational opportunities,” he said. “They failed to repair those communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition. They neglected to protect patients' rights and our environment."
Viewers can expect a wealth of conversations, aimed at kickstarting the movement through education and discussions, in addition to performances throughout the evening.