Illicit Gardens’ Freedoms Campaign advocates freedom for cannabis offenders on Independence Day
One Missouri grow facility and dispensary’s mission has continued during the United States’ annual celebration of freedom — by amplifying what freedom means to those who are currently serving or have previously served jail time for cannabis charges.
The Freedoms Campaign is a joint venture between cannabis brand and social justice advocate Illicit Gardens and the Last Prisoner Project (LPP) to provide donation dollars to individuals imprisoned under cannabis possession charges. Together, the two organizations fight for criminal justice reform around cannabis at the local and national legislative levels.
“The Freedoms Campaign is an unfiltered view on how American racism is affecting the judicial system. Even though we live in 2022, where flying people to Mars gets more attainable every day, the nation’s heart is still corrupted by stigmas and prejudices set hundreds of years ago,” said Illicit CEO Adam Diltz. “We speak of progress and equality, but the truth is that we are still very far from it. Without hearing the firsthand accounts of people directly affected by this, how are we to face this truth and change?”
In partnership with LPP, Illicit Gardens is featuring eight “prisoners of war” (POWs) throughout its year-long campaign, an allusion to the U.S. war on drugs. Through videos and exclusive interviews, the Freedoms Campaign features the individual stories of national cannabis justice spokespeople such as Donte West and Evelyn LaChapelle — as well as what freedom means to them.
In 2013, LaChapelle was federally charged in Charlotte, North Carolina — though she had never visited the state — for conspiracy to distribute marijuana and initially sentenced to 24 years in a federal prison. After waiving her right to appeal in exchange for a lighter sentence, LaChapelle was sentenced to 87 months and served 63 of them, costing taxpayers more than $190,000.
West was also arrested with no criminal record and nothing illegal in his possession, then was convicted on charges that were later overturned. West spent three years imprisoned, where with the support of the facility’s warden and staff, he worked to fight his charges and also spoke to area teens about his experience with law enforcement and the courts.
Other POWs speaking out on claiming their freedom are Natalia Wade, who served an 87-month sentence alongside LaChapelle and was diagnosed with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis in prison; Corvain Cooper, who after being arrested alongside LaChapelle and Wade, was initially charged with a lifetime sentence on incorrect charges without possibility for parole; and Kyle Page, who was sentenced to 82 months when he was just 18.
For information on the campaign or to donate or get involved, visit https://www.illicitgardens.com/freedoms. Illicit Gardens will also share weekly stories on their Instagram account, @illicitgardensmo, and full, unedited audio segments on their website, illicitgardens.com.
About Illicit Gardens
Illicit Gardens is a Missouri-based cannabis brand that’s highlighting the hypocrisy in the legal system through criminal justice and drug policy reform. Illicit keeps a watchful eye on every part of the cannabis cultivation and manufacturing process to ensure the highest quality products while also partnering with local and national advocacy groups to overcome marijuana prohibition and support the release of cannabis POWs. Learn more at illicitgardens.com.