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Cannabis Justice is Racial Justice

Last Prisoner Project

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“Ever since Harry Anslinger implemented [cannabis prohibition] in the United States, it’s main purpose has been a method of racial control by white people over communities of color and that continues to this day. We will not have racial justice in this country without cannabis justice and vice versa,” says Steve DeAngelo, the Father of the Legal Cannabis Industry.

GRAM spoke with Steve, the founder of Last Prisoner Project. He shared with us the mission and programs that drives Last Prisoner Project, as well as the stories of two specific men they are working to help.


This Nov. 2, 2017 photo released by the Michigan Department of Corrections shows Michael Thompson, who is incarcerated at the Muskegon, Mich., Correctional Facility. (Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections via Associated Press)

“Michael Thompson is in the 26th year of a 40-60 sentence for selling three lbs. of cannabis to an informant in 1994. After he was arrested, the cops went to Michael’s residence which he shared with his mother and his wife. And they went into a locked gun cabinet, they opened the cabinet and found some antique rifles that had belonged to Michael’s father. On those grounds, they said it was a gun crime, and because Michael had a couple of other minor offenses that had happened during this very intense street enforcement on the ground in the 1990’s in Flint, MI. Now he’s 68 years old; he has pre-existing medical conditions that make him more vulnerable to COVID, and COVID is present in the prison he’s incarcerated in. So we are desperately concerned that Michael is going to get COVID and potentially die, and his already outrageous sentence turns into a death sentence. There are two petitions on Governor Whitmer’s desk for his release right now. One is a compassionate release for COVID; one is a clemency request; those requests for release have been endorsed by the Flint Prosecutor’s Office which is the office that originally prosecuted Michael (that’s something that never ever happens), but Governor Whitmer continues to sit on Michael’s petition; each day exposing him to a possible death sentence,” Steve continues. “There’s dozens and dozens of other cannabis prisoners who are facing similarly long sentences on equally bogus charges.”

The reality of it is it’s not our constituents who are the criminals. The real criminals are the people who passed these laws and enforce these laws.

Steve says, “Our position is that nobody anywhere in the world ever deserved to be arrested for cannabis charges and that nobody ever deserved to be in prison on cannabis charges. We don’t care what the amount was; we really don’t care what the “complicating factors” were. The reality of it is it’s not our constituents who are the criminals. The real criminals are the people who passed these laws and enforce these laws.” 

Corvain Cooper is serving a federal sentence of life without parole in Louisiana for a cannabis conviction because he had two minor charges on his record in the state of California that at one time qualified him for the three strikes law, but since he earned those convictions, the law has been revised, and the crimes that he was convicted for are no longer crimes that make you eligible for three strikes. “Yet, Corvain faces spending the rest of his life in prison when it’s really obvious that that is a grossly unjust thing,” says Steve.

Steve says, “Last Prisoner Project has a very single-minded mission, a very singular focus quite deliberately. There’s a lot of organizations who are working on cannabis reform in general, on legislation, who are working on equity and racial justice issues specifically. Our focus is even more narrow. We just want to make sure that every single cannabis prisoner on planet Earth comes home to their families and is given the resources they need to build the lives that were stolen from them. We are interested in further reform, we’re interested in legislative stuff, that’s not where we put our energy, we let other organizations focus there. We just want to get prisoners out.”

Within the first year of its inception, Last Prisoner Project figured out that there are about 40,000 people in prison for cannabis convictions in the United States. They still don’t know the world-wide total. “It’s many many times the 40,000,” says Steve. “Once we had our hands around the problem, the size of it, and where it was located, then we started thinking about the most effective ways that we could get the largest number of prisoners released in the shortest period of time with the funds that were available to us.”

Last Prisoner Project has a couple of programs that achieve that objective. Steve tells us, “One of them is our clemency program which works with governor’s offices in legal cannabis states to develop a set of standard parameters that would allow the governor, at the stroke of a pen, to release hundreds or even (depending on the state) thousands of cannabis prisoners.”

There are currently about 50 people in the United States serving sentences of life without parole for cannabis convictions. “For most of them, their cases are complicated and are challenging for governors to give clemency to. So we do know that–unfortunately, in some cases–we are going to have to raise the funds that are necessary to mount a new legal defense for people who have already (in some cases) been in prison for decades. It’s a very expensive proposition to do that; it’s a very time consuming proposition to do that; it’s an absolutely necessary thing to do.”

The second program within the Last Prisoner Project is the Prison to Prosperity Pipeline. “We want to make sure that when our constituents are released that they have a support network that is sufficient to make sure that their reentry is successful,” says Steve. That involves housing, training, and finding employment. Last Prisoner Project is already serving their constituents through this program and recently hired a full time staff member to administer the program.

82% of the arrests for the war on drugs were for cannabis possession.

“We have a few different ways that we work to fund those programs. Our ‘Roll it up for justice’ program asks cannabis retailers to ask cannabis consumers to make a donation at the end of their cannabis purchase, to at least round up to the next dollar from their cannabis purchase.” Steve states that the program spreads the burden out widely across the whole cannabis community and doesn’t call on anybody too much. “We encourage cannabis retailers to participate in the program, and we encourage cannabis consumers to patronize the dispensaries that do participate in that program. In a similar vein, we have our ‘Partners for Freedom’ program. This program allows cannabis companies other than retailers (growers, manufacturers, etc.) to make a commitment to be a sustaining partner for the Last Prisoner Project, and they earn the ability to put the Last Prisoner Project logo on all the packages of all of their products. The idea being that we want cannabis consumers to have ways that they can support the companies that are supporting the community.”

“We are in a unique time in this country right now. That’s put a fresh lens on law enforcement and what’s been going on with law enforcement over the course of the last two decades in the United States. And what many people don’t realize is that stop and frisk, cops on the ground in black and brown communities harassing people has been justified and driven by cannabis prohibition. 82% of the arrests for the war on drugs were for cannabis possession.”

Learn more about Steve DeAngelo and how he earned the moniker “The Father of the Legal Cannabis Industry” in an upcoming issue of GRAM. In the meantime follow @lastprisonerproject on social media and keep up with Steve on his new podcast: Radio Free Cannabis.

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This Week | Oct 22

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!


October 22nd, 2020

On this episode of GRAM This Week, we sit down with the one and only – Keith Stroup. He is the founder of NORML – the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. listen in as we discuss policy and the upcoming election. Be sure to tune in again next week for part 2 of this interview!


GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

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Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
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This Week | Oct 15

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!

October 15th, 2020


Featuring | Tommy Chong

The one and only Tommy Chong sits down with our Founder, Nancy Moss. Hear what’s new in his world and be sure to read the upcoming article in our publication.


Meet The Scientist | Dr Igor Kovalchuk

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Meet A Sponsor |Invincibowls

Welcome to another episode introducing you to one of our sponsors. This week we have the CEO and CFO from Invicibowls. They have created a line of smoking accessories that are indestructible. Tune in and learn more.


GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

ReleafApp – https://releafapp.com/
Frere Cheramie – https://www.frerecheramie.com/
Nugtopia Art – https://nugtopia.net/
Chef Sebastian Carosi – https://www.instagram.com/chef_sebast…
Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
Trichom Health Center – https://www.trichomhealthcenter.com/
The Grateful Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/thegratefulv…
Mr Boomers Magic Kitchen – https://www.instagram.com/cannabenoid…
Magical Butter – https://www.magicalbutter.com/
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This Week | Oct 1

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!

October 1, 2020


Featuring | Whole Plant Expo

Learn about the Whole Plant Expo: a two month virtual expo featuring speakers from seven different countries and eleven different educational institutions. These educators and scientists are from around the world and are bringing you the most up to-date and comprehensive information information on hemp and cannabis plant medicine.


GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

ReleafApp – https://releafapp.com/
Frere Cheramie – https://www.frerecheramie.com/
Nugtopia Art – https://nugtopia.net/
Chef Sebastian Carosi – https://www.instagram.com/chef_sebast…
Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
Trichom Health Center – https://www.trichomhealthcenter.com/
The Grateful Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/thegratefulv…
Mr Boomers Magic Kitchen – https://www.instagram.com/cannabenoid…
Magical Butter – https://www.magicalbutter.com/
True Terpenes – https://trueterpenes.com/

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