About the Project

We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by... criminalizing [marijuana] heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
— John Ehrlichman, Domestic Policy Adviser, Nixon Administration
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April 20, 2018, was the biggest 420 celebration in history, but that was only a start. Going into April 20, 2019, 420 celebrations will be even bigger. Events and promotions have been hyped for weeks, and for good reason. The ongoing repeal of cannabis prohibition has opened the door to a multi-billion dollar industry, mainstream media coverage, and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Some of the biggest villains of the War on Drugs have maneuvered to cash in on this turning of the tide. John Boehner is on the board of Acreage Holdings, Mitch McConnell has pushed through the Hemp Farming Act, and Cory Gardner is working to secure guarantees the Feds won't interfere with states that have repealed prohibition.

But while big dollar signs are on the horizon, the stark reality is that the so-called "War on Drugs" has extracted a tragic human cost. $50 billion dollars is spent annually on "drug enforcement" and the numbers show that this largely translates into targeting communities of color.

88% of arrests between 2001 and 2010 were for simply carrying small amounts of cannabis. And despite the parity of cannabis consumption between white and non-white Americans, people of color are 4 to 8 times more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis.

While millions of Americans prepare to celebrate 420, and many are poised to become very rich from the cannabis industry in the years to come, there are people still being incarcerated and damage already caused by a failed cannabis policy that will take generations to heal.

These are stories that need to be told.

So, along with the newly formed San Francisco Equity Group, we have set out to tell the stories—in photo portraits and written narrative—of people who have been directly or indirectly impacted by the War on Cannabis. There is an open call for submissions across California and the US for people to tell their story.

Our goal is to draw attention to these stories, these people, and these communities so that permanent policy change can take affect, and so that initiatives like San Francisco's Equity Program can serve as a model for course correction nationwide.