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Documentary Series Exhibits History of Cannabis Prohibition and Inequality

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Created in a partnership between Vanity Fair and PAX Labs, a newly released documentary series reviews the injustices caused by the War on Drugs.

The three-part documentary called The Human Toll, the first part of which released on March 12, offers an in-depth examination of the evolution of racial inequality as a result of cannabis prohibition. In part one, “The War on Race,” the series dives invited major organizations such as Last Prisoner Project, Marijuana Policy Project, Law Enforcement Action Partnership and Brookings Institution to comment on how early US drug policies have affected minorities. The second and third parts of this series, entitled “Collateral Consequences” and “Getting Out” are slated to release on March 26.

PAX Labs Senior Director of Communications & Public Affairs Laura Fogelman told Forbes that there’s no better time for big cannabis brands to take a stand against the injustices caused by the War on Drugs. “As a brand in cannabis, we’re deeply committed to driving awareness around the racial injustice of the War on Drugs, so it was great to work with Vanity Fair and the featured advocates to give voice to those impacted and bring these stories to life,” said Fogelman.

“This is not just something that happened in the rear view—there are more than 40,000 people incarcerated today for nonviolent, cannabis-related crimes while our industry remains one of the fastest growing in America. It will take all of us coming together, demanding much needed reforms, to see meaningful change.”The Human Toll was directed by Black director Øcean Vashti Jude, whose credits include Prudence, House of Mamis and Life As We Know It. When speaking to Forbes about her newest film project, she provided excellent insight in the creation of the series. “I think the greatest thing I learned is the true depth of this so-called war,” she said.

“To me, it appeared to be a thing of the past, something that caused chaos in the ’80s, but what I learned is this was a systematic attack on Black people dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. The other thing that stayed with me is the realization that despite cannabis being freely used in many places, there are thousands upon thousands of people sitting, rotting in jail because they had some weed on them. Hearing the stats really reminded me how powerful the media is, because they aren’t speaking on this. And so, to an entire viewership, it’s as if this war and the people affected by it don’t exist.”

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