A day after revelers around the world mark 420, a still spirited — but more sober — summit of cannabis enthusiasts will this year declare their dedication to the fight for a just and equitable legalization of the plant.
This April 21 will mark the inception of 421 For All, a new campaign to advocate for criminal justice reform, social and economic empowerment, patients’ rights, environmental protection and related questions of inclusion and diversity in the legal cannabis industry.
A live-streamed fundraising event at New York City’s Chelsea Music Hall will kick off the effort that evening, with proceeds to benefit some of the organizations leading the fight for cannabis equality, including the Drug Policy Alliance and Cage-Free Repair, activist arm of the advocacy group Cage-Free Cannabis. Other beneficiaries include National Bail Out, which is working to end mass incarceration with a focus on pre-trial detention for nonviolent offenders, and Veterans Health Solutions, which advances the right of military veterans to self-medicate with cannabis.
The public will be able to live-stream the proceedings from Chelsea Music Hall, cybernetically joining the invitation-only mix of activists, performers, educators, politicians and celebrities at the forefront of cannabis reform.
Confirmed for the performance are British-American singer-songwriter Nellie McKay, Brooklyn rappers TK Wonder and Chelsea Reject, and local worldbeat conglomeration Goolis.
Legalization Isn’t Enough
421 For All’s organizers stress that although many states have enacted legalization measures, people of color continue to be arrested, incarcerated and criminalized for low-level cannabis offenses at greater rates than their white counterparts — despite essentially equal rates of use. People with records for cannabis offenses no longer considered criminal continue to face barriers to education, housing, medical services and nutritional programs. And the communities hit hardest by cannabis prohibition may be effectively barred from participating in the newly legal cannabis industry due to lack of access to capital.
421 For All founder Cristina Buccola says: “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. 421 is about creating a day of cannabis education and advocacy, to highlight these priorities and the organizations working towards these goals.”
Buccola, an attorney with New York-based CB Counsel, PLLC teamed up for the 421 affair with activist and event producer Sky Cohen, music marketing strategist Matthew Evertsen of RONIN, and cannabis industry publicist Tracey Henry of Tracey Henry Consulting, or THC.
“The concept of 421 was born out of frustration: mainstream cannabis conversations were failing to address the non-commercial aspects of cannabis legalization, like criminal justice reform,” Buccola says. “The message of organizations and advocates who have been doing this very work was being drowned out by cannabis revenue talk. The answer was to create 421 as a day focused on cannabis justice matters, highlighting the issues that accompany cannabis legalization and the people who are doing this important work.”
“On 420 we celebrate the cannabis plant,” Buccola summed up. “On 421 we celebrate the people who are focused on these crucial matters of cannabis justice, amplify their message and have a call to action to continue the work.”
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