Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s announced BEN’S BEST BLNZ (B3)—a registered non-profit cannabis company with an entirely new approach—giving 100% of profits to Black entrepreneurs in the cannabis space and groups advocating for criminal justice reform. First this comes in the forms of blended pre-rolls, full-spectrum live resin vapes, and potent flower.
Fueled by a craving for justice over profits, it could be a winning approach: Eighty percent of profits from B3 will go towards Black cannabis entrepreneurs in the cannabis space. In addition, B3 established a low-interest loan fund for Black, Indigenous, and people of color cannabis entrepreneurs.
Both the grant and loan programs will be delivered under a partnership with Oregon-based NuLeaf Project, a Black-led non-profit organization. The remaining 20% will be evenly divided between the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and the Last Prisoner Project.
B3 offers craft cannabis with a bigger focus on terps and quality, as well as protest graphics-inspired design. To do this, B3 collaborated with Eddie Opara of the design firm Pentagram to collaborate closely with Cohen to design a brand identity framework and packaging for BEN’S BEST BLNZ, prominently highlighting Black artists and designers. The goal is to convey the company’s message of activism with typography inspired by protest graphics.
“I started BEN’S BEST BLNZ because for me and lots of other people today’s pot is just way too strong,” Cohen tells High Times. “I mean when I was in college, the pot we were smoking was about 6% THC. Today’s pot averages about 23%.
Cohen continues, “I’m an entrepreneur and saw an opportunity for a business to fill that void in the market. But I’m lucky enough not to need more money, so I decided to incorporate as a non-profit organization whose purpose is to help right the wrongs of the War on Drugs.”
“Why am I in it?” Cohen asks, when we questioned what his motivations are if there are no profits. “There’s lots of people that are motivated by things other than money. Some of us are motivated by justice.”
Cohen launched Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in 1978 with Jerry Greenfield, first as a parlor. Over the years, the brand became involved with various advocacy efforts and introduced ice cream flavors based on Jerry Garcia, Colin Kaepernick, and Phish to name a few.
Today he’s still focused on advocacy. Despite using cannabis at the same rate, Black people have been arrested at four times the rate of white people, something BEN’S BEST BLNZ highlights on its website. Highlighting these injustices is a recurring theme that is manifested through the packaging typography and art.
BLNZ refers to the blends of several different strains in the company’s high-terpene, moderate-THC pre-rolls. That’s why you’ll also see a different focus on the qualities craft growers value over THC alone. The cannabis is sourced from independent craft growers in Vermont, including GMG Farms in Champlain Valley.
How B3 is Advocating for Justice
B3’s Board of Trustees includes President Jesce Horton, Secretary and Treasurer Dr. Darrick Hamilton, Killer Mike, Phil Agnew, and Nina Turner. They work with Cohen as Vice President and Irene Kim as Operations Manager.
“Black people have borne the brunt of America’s failed five-decade War on Drugs, being arrested at four times the rate of whites, despite marijuana use being roughly equal among both groups,” the BEN’S BEST BLNZ website reads. “As pot becomes legalized in more states, the fight to decarcerate Blacks with cannabis-related charges and to support the formation of legitimate businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana is just beginning.”
B3 advocates for “the decarceration of those convicted of nonviolent cannabis crimes and the descheduling of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance.” As much as possible, B3 plans to prioritize work with Black-owned vendors and partners.
“The goal for the Ben’s Best graphics was to be honest and artful—to reflect the quality of our products and the social mission of our brand—to help Right the Wrongs of the War on Drugs which disproportionately affected Black people,” said Cohen on the company’s website. “The focus on this issue is something that a lot of other brands might mention, but virtually no other brand makes it so prominent. […]”
Several items are slated for sales: B3 offers Blended SloSmokes with blended strains that are rich in terpenes and moderate amounts of THC. “It’s the terpenes that make the Music. THC is the volume,” the website reads. They’re available in 2-packs, 5-packs, all with five effects. You can get them at participating retailers.
B3 also offers terpene-focused, entourage-enhanced Full Spectrum Live Resin Vapes with five effects. They’re available in cartridges or pens using live resin extracted from freshly frozen whole plants.
B3’s more potent HiTest Buds are the more powerful strains, using the text on the packaging to advocate for getting weed off Schedule 1. They’re available in certain locations. Occasionally B3 will find a batch of high-THC bud that truly blows them away. When that happens we check in with their “Five Esteemed El Exigentes.” If they all agree that it’s fire, they can each give it a star to make five. They’re also soil-grown and have several other perks.
Learn more on the non-profit’s website.