Ben & Jerry's is calling on Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to grant clemency to those who are incarcerated for cannabis-related convictions.
Michigan legalized adult-use cannabis in 2018, but Ben & Jerry’s says 250,000 Michiganders are still serving time or have long-standing records for cannabis convictions. The Vermont ice cream maker is calling for clemency, which governors can bestow to either reduce a sentence or free an incarcerated person.
Last year, governors in states such as Oregon and Pennsylvania granted cannabis pardons and commutations, but there remains great opportunity for cannabis clemency in many states.
For example, in 2021, Whitmer signed legislation that streamlined removal of cannabis and other misdemeanors from public record but excludes felony convictions for sentences of 10 or more years. The 'Clean Slate' Bill allowed Whitmer to grant clemency to Michael Thompson, who served 25 years for a cannabis conviction – the longest sentence for a nonviolent drug charge in the history of the state.
"We thank Governor Whitmer for having the courage to address the injustice in Michael Thompson's case," said Chris Miller, head of global activism strategies at Ben & Jerry's. "However, Michael is just one victim, and many in Michigan are still paying a price for the racist war on drugs and the criminalization of cannabis, which is why we are calling on Gov. Whitmer to provide justice for all those still incarcerated for cannabis crimes."
To advance this work, Ben & Jerry's launched a campaign calling on citizens to contact Whitmer and urge her to grant clemency. The company's campaign has placed billboards adjacent to the Michigan state house in Lansing and mobile billboards across Ann Arbor and Lansing. It is part of a larger national campaign calling for clemency in every state.