SEATTLE — A collaboration between Seattle-based artist Teddy "Stat" Phillips and Washington cannabis grower Solstice aims to draw attention to what they say is a contradiction in need of correction: people still incarcerated on marijuana-related offenses while cannabis, as an industry, rakes in billions.
Since its inception in 2010, Solstice has seen an evolution in attitudes toward, and laws surrounding, cannabis, but says a widely varying patchwork of policies still exists nationwide. The company began serving patients who used medical marijuana and grew from there.
"We really focused on legalization, on medical cannabis, and fast forward ten years- we accomplished that in Washington state, we accomplished that in a lot of states in the US, and so many people feel like the battle's kind of over, but it's not," Solstice CEO and Co-Founder Will Denman said.
The company launched an artist series to elevate local voices through the platform of their products, and when they reached out to Phillips, he proposed a campaign drawing attention and donating money to the Last Prisoner Project.
"Even the establishment we're in right now, they're selling cannabis, but people who got locked up a while ago are still doing time on it," Phillips said. "So it's a systemic issue, but I'm happy to have partners that see the issue and want to bring awareness to it as well."
Phillips said the "Free the Homies" artwork includes two designs: one inspired by Monopoly's "Get Out of Jail Free" card, and another depicting Allen Russell, serving a life sentence. Along with raising awareness of all incarcerations, they are sharing education about the disproportionate number of Black people who are incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses, and the disproportionately low number of Black-owned legal cannabis businesses.
"What we're advocating for is that they expunge the records and release the prisoners," Phillips said.
The pre-rolls with artwork will be on sale at Have a Heart and The Reef. A donation will go to the Last Prisoner Project. For further education, they are directing people to the Last Prisoner Project, the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU.
"When Teddy brought up the idea of Last Prisoner Project and wanted to put voice to some of the issues we still have with the amount of people we still have in jail for cannabis-related crimes, it was a no-brainer," Denman said. "It's kind of the next step in the process for us, and at Solstice, we feel like we've accomplished so much but there's still so much left to do."