Striking Ads From Jay-Z Battle Hypocrisy in Cannabis Laws

Monogram puts draconian rules in stark context

"Weed is a federal crime. Even in states where sex with farms animals isn't." "There's a state in American where cannibalism is technically legal and cannabis isn't." "The war on drugs worked. If systemic racism was the goal."

Such pointed copy drives fresh work from Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter's Monogram cannabis brand, which tackles the hypocrisy of the nation's marijuana laws in a series of stirring digital and out-of-home messages developed with creative shop Mischief @ No Fixed Address:

In each ad, stark white words overlay haunting images of eight folks charged with cannabis-related crimes.

"Cannabis laws are out of date and disproportionately cruel and punishing when compared to the rest of the legal code," Carter says in a statement. "I created this campaign to amplify the voices of those who have been penalized for the very same thing that venture capitalists are now prospering from with the emerging legal cannabis market."

"Far too often we forget that these are real people whose everyday lives and futures have been affected by this outdated legislature—people like Bryan Rone, who can no longer pursue a career in sales because of a cannabis-related conviction in 2003," Carter says.

Rone appears, along with others, in the campaign, which ultimately demands, "The hypocrisy of America's drug policy needs to end."

The work launches this week in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Miami, with plans for more cities to come online by month's end. Monogram will also introduce video testimonials from those depicted in the ads, to put the problem, and a possible solution, in sharper perspective.

"The disproportionate effects of the War on Drugs have been devastating, and we believe it is our responsibility to lay the stage to begin the process of righting the many wrongs against the Black and other minority communities," says Steve Allan, chief executive of Monogram owner The Parent Company.

To that end, Parent will fund a social equity ventures initiative designed "to give Black and other minority entrepreneurs equal opportunity for participation in the legal cannabis industry," Allan says. "Led by Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter and [Roc Nation CEO] Desiree Perez, this program will identify and fund the next generation of cannabis business leaders who are building value for their communities and diversity in our industry."

Of late, such issues have come to the fore in a big way. Last week, rapper Problem dropped "4 the Low," a video and track created with Wiz Khalifa, calling out racism and highlighting the struggle of BIPOC folks to succeed in the pot industry.

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