Ben & Jerry's Demands Congress Expunge Cannabis Convictions

The 4/20-friendly ice cream brand says marijuana legalization without criminal justice reform is "half baked."

Ben & Jerry’s is celebrating 4/20 with a call for criminal justice reform, warning Congress that without it, marijuana legalization is a “half baked” idea.

In a video tweeted Saturday, which is known as the annual holiday for stoners, the ice cream brand pointed out that when it comes to pot, those who profit and those who are punished don’t tend to look alike.

“Ever notice how most people making $$$ off legalized cannabis are white? But a disproportionate number of people getting arrested for using cannabis are Black?” the company asked, demanding that officials start “making sure legalization doesn’t leave people of color behind and expunging everybody’s cannabis convictions.”

In a statement released Friday, Ben & Jerry’s also urged lawmakers to “provide provide pardons/amnesty to anyone whose only crime was possession of cannabis,” adding that cities including San Francisco have already taken the lead.

The company also extended its call to action to prosecutors, noting that certain big-city lawyers are no longer pursuing cases of pot possession.

Ten states in addition to Washington, D.C., have now legalized recreational marijuana, while 33 states have approved it for medicinal use.

However, that doesn’t mean arrests are decreasing.

According to an FBI crime statistics report released in September and crunched by Forbes, marijuana arrests increased by more than 6,400 from 2016 to 2017, primarily targeting possession rather than production or distribution.

In 2013, an American Civil Liberties Union report found that people in the U.S. use pot at about the same rate no matter what their race ― but that a black person is nearly 4 times more likely to be arrested for possession than a white person is.

Furthermore, the report ― which examined arrests from 2001 to 2010 ― concluded that more than 8 million of them were related to pot. That amounts to 97 busts an hour.

Now Ben & Jerry’s is speaking out with a petition on its website, which has garnered about 23,390 signatures so far.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a 2020 candidate for president, is leading the charge in the current Congress. In February, he introduced his Marijuana Justice Act, which aims to legalize pot across the country and expunge criminal records of federal convictions while permitting prosecuted individuals to ask for reduced sentences.

The bill has received support from other Democratic contenders as well, with co-sponsorship from Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

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