Loriel Alegrete co-founded 40 Tons, a premium cannabis clothing and accessories brand in Los Angeles, California. As CEO, she oversees macro strategy and strategic partnerships between other brands, advocacy groups, and organizations representing the victims of the failed war on drugs.
Both the name of the brand and the story behind her advocacy are personal, with 40 Tons giving a nod to the amount of cannabis her husband and friend were associated with in a pool of charges.
To tell Loriel Alegrete’s story, you really need to start with her husband’s longtime friend, Corvain Cooper, and his tale of being handed a life sentence for the subsequent non-violent cannabis charges and last minute reprieve from former President Trump in the final hours of his term in February of 2021.
To back up further, and to demonstrate the endurance and strength of this woman, when she was just a teen her brother was arrested for being accessory to a murder, causing her to help care for the family, while also supporting her brother in prison. This gave her a painful understanding of the justice system at a very young age.
Fast forward and Alegrete’s prison woes continued with the incarceration of both her husband, Anthony Alegrete, and his close friend, Cooper, on cannabis charges.
While her husband’s sentence was less harsh, Cooper’s accumulated charges, combined with 100 other associated cases within the bust, along with the court using an newly obsolete three-strikes law (per then-sitting President Obama), gave him life without parole.
When Anthony was released, cannabis laws began to relax across the country, with the husband and wife now focusing on Cooper’s release.
“Corvain never once acted like he was serving a life sentance,” Alegrete shared. “All during those nine years served, he kept saying, ‘the same thing that landed me here will free me,’ and he was right.”
It wasn’t that Corvain denied any wrongdoing; on the contrary. Alegrete added he acknowledged breaking the law, but with the laws changing all over the country, albeit the world, with God as his higher power, he believed all would be corrected in time.
As explained during an interview with Cooper by Montel Williams on his podcast, Let’s Be Blunt, he watched from his cell as Trump was impeached a second time, holding his freedom in the balance. But by the time Trump boarded the helicopter, heading back to Mar a Lago, he had signed the orders releasing Cooper in his final hours, after nine years served, with five minutes to “get your shit and get out,” per a prison guard.
A Life of Advocacy, #notjustcannabis
A first-hand education on the U.S. justice system in her teens prepared Loriel Alegrete for a lifetime of advocacy, whether she wanted it or not.
Prior to his incarceration for cannabis, Alegrete and her husband, Anthony, were already active in their former community in Las Vegas, supporting and visiting Holocost survivors in retirement homes, as Anthony is of Jewish-Italian descent.
“Our heritage is important to us,” she explained. “The stories of both our lineages from being Black and Jewish, are fraught with persecution and suffering. But the stories are also of advocacy, redemption and subsequent freedoms.”
Ever the advocate, Alegrete also founded Jump for Joy while in Las Vegas, a community outreach for children facing obesity.
Loriel Alegrete: Fashionably Looking Forward
What Loriel Alegrete didn’t count on throughout her advocacy was using her degree acquired from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles (FIDM).
“I thought I had put that career in the rear view mirror,” she laughed. “I had plateaued in the space, after working in retail right out of the institute as a retail manager in clothing shops. Now I’m looking forward to dipping my toe into the design pool and putting my degree to good use for the cause.”
The website sports the usual hats, sweatshirts, t-shirts—and face masks—all with the 40 Tons logo on them. More clothing for women is now planned, with sports bras and yoga shorts on the top of her list to design and market.
Interesting and sad to note, during Cooper’s ten years of probation following his release, he isn’t allowed to partake of the plant, and isn’t allowed to even wear any article of clothing with the cannabis leaf on it. Hence the 40 Tons logo without any trace of the plant. The brand operates in a legally compliant fashion which allows Corvain to participate as a brand ambassador without risking the conditions of his parole.
As states in the U.S. and other countries legalize or decriminalize, we see more acceptance for the plant across the globe, both medicinally and recreationally. But the archaic criminal brutalities within the failed war on drugs in the U.S. continue, with little to no education on its benefits persuading the powers that be to acknowledge it as medicine.
“I’m grateful that my husband and Corvain have been released,” she concluded. “But, it’s heartbreaking how slow legislation in the U.S. is in turning things around. Our goal at 40 Tons is to continue to support those incarcerated and help to educate and change the laws for the better. I know this has been said a million times, but no one should go to prison for a plant.”