Ascend Wellness Holdings, Inc. AAWH AAWH, has announced an array of programs and initiatives to support cannabis expungement efforts. The announcements include increased donations through the Ascend Foundation to address the impact of the War on Drugs, donations to equity organizations around the country and coordinated expungement clinics to provide opportunity in the communities most harmed by the consequences of historical and current U.S. drug policy.
Special Expungement Events
AWH will host a week of events across the U.S. that offers expungement and other legal services to formerly incarcerated individuals. Not only will the clinics assist in expungement and record sealing, but they will also help attendees access other critical resources, such as housing, mental health support, legal services and more. AWH's expungement events will kick off with a clinic in Montclair, New Jersey this October.
In addition, AWH has increased donations through its previously announced, Ascend Foundation, expanding the company's corporate social responsibility to organizations around the country that support expungement efforts, economic empowerment and community engagement locally. The Foundation is committed to the holistic wellness of communities and supports organizations that keep communities healthy—mentally, physically and financially. The Foundation has recently donated over $65,000 to several such organizations in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and more, funding a variety of efforts toward restorative justice. Those organizations are the following:
Westside Justice Center
Michigan Cannabis Freedom Coalition
Black Economic Council of Massachusetts
Urban League of Ohio
AWH continues to contribute to nonprofit organizations that work to address the harms and injustices created by cannabis prohibition. Including contributions by Ascend customers, AWH recently surpassed $1.8 million in donations to the Last Prisoner Project ("LPP"), a nonprofit organization dedicated to clemency, re-entry programs and advocacy for individuals with cannabis convictions. AWH's contributions have helped the organization to expand its executive bench, hiring a diverse range of leaders that is representative of the community. Ascend is the largest contributor to LPP among the multi-state operators, the company's support of LPP has specifically funded several impactful initiatives, including:
The release of 21 constituents to date
60 constituents matched with pro bono attorneys, 41 cases currently being litigated
Funding constituent commissary accounts for phone calls, stamps and emails
$1 million in micro-grants, funding 10 semesters of tuition for constituents' children, 48 months of childcare for children with an incarcerated caretaker and a full year of housing for 16 returning citizens
These initiatives follow a long history of the company's commitment to criminal justice reform. "Cannabis legalization is a unique issue in that if executed properly it can be used as a tool for economic growth in underserved communities," stated Danielle Drummond, vice president of social equity at AWH. "Expungement clinics, legal assistance and mental health services are practical initiatives that can make an incredible impact in the lives of the formerly incarcerated. The Ascend Foundation is proud to support such a range of organizations making a difference in their communities as cannabis becomes an increasingly equitable space."
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