Cosmic Profile: LaTorie Marshall
As a brand dedicated to the benefits of weed, we also recognize the negative impacts it continues to have on communities around the country — in particular Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities. Millions of American carry the burden of criminal records (and probably a few petty cannabis ones in the mix), which can restrict access to housing, employment, education, public assistance, and voting rights long after sentences have been served. And while many politicians and big wigs rant about their expungement agendas and policies, there is one organization who is actively getting things done: National Expungement Week.
Co-founded in 2018 by LaTorie Marshall (We B.A.K.E.D.) and Adam Vine (Cage-Free Repair), N.E.W. is a grassroots collective of individuals and organizations that care for the wellbeing of our communities, specifically people affected by the War on Drugs. In just a short time, they’ve helped millions of individuals get the relief and repair they deserve by clearing their records and getting them on a path to equity. To say they are rolling out change would be an understatement.
We recently caught up with LaTorie Marshall to learn more about this cosmic week of activism and action. She’s a dope queer Black woman who continues to inspire us with her love for humanity and her passion for reform in the cannabis space.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE NATIONAL EXPUNGEMENT WEEK?
I had just got arrested and Adam Vine called to check on me. I shared my vision to create a movement of national awareness for reparative justice for marginalized communities harmed by systemic injustices like the Drug War. As a result of my experience — and that of so many others ravaged by these systemic injustices — I created N.E.W. with the support of others that shared my passion.
HOW DID YOU FIRST MEET ADAM VINE? AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WORK WITH HIM AND CAGE FREE REPAIR?
Adam and I met in Georgia at the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) International Drug Policy Reform Conference in 2017. We’re both from D.C. and we love our city and its go-go music. I decided to accept the offer to be on the advisory board of Cage-Free Cannabis because we shared some of the same ideas for making cannabis different from other industries when it comes to using Black and Brown people for capital gain/interest, while never investing in those same appropriated communities.
AS A CO-FOUNDER AND REPRESENTATIVE OF NATIONAL EXPUNGEMENT WEEK, WHAT MAKES N.E.W. SPECIAL TO YOU PERSONALLY?
I created it in order to understand what it means to really heal with realness, support, and accountability.
CAN YOU SHARE MORE ABOUT HOW YOU HEAL WITH REALNESS, SUPPORT, AND ACCOUNTABILITY?
Absolutely! You can't heal in denial, lies, irresponsibility, dishonesty, deceitfulness, misunderstanding, or avoidance. That puts more hurt and toxicity in a trauma wound that NEEDS to heal.
WHAT MAKES N.E.W. EXPERIENCES SPECIAL TO YOU AND YOUR TEAM?
The story isn’t finished yet! It is ongoing as long as these injustices ensue. Every experience of injustice is relevant, especially: in marginalized communities where the negative impact of systemic injustices are disproportionately prevalent.
WHAT'S BEEN YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT WITH N.E.W.?
Creating a national movement of healing and uplifting our people.
WHILE N.E.W. IS A SPECIFIC WEEK OF AWARENESS, HOW DOES IT MAKE AN IMPACT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
We are no different than any other year-round community project that has a national week of action, like the movement for Black Lives and #BLM. We assist our people year-round with available legal and wrap-around resources like legal assistance for Immigration, Veteran Affairs, or Landlord/Tenant issues. On the non-legal side, we have programs like utility assistance, food banks, clothing banks, resume workshops and government programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
IF SOMEONE COULD WALK AWAY WITH ONE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT N.E.W. AND YOUR MISSION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WHAT STEPS CAN INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES TAKE TO HELP MOVE TOWARDS THIS HEALING?
It first depends on the need or level of healing required, because every trauma is different, though it's the same word. If you don't know where to start, reach out to us at nationalexpungementweek.org.