Time’s Ticking for Criminal Justice Reform with Shinola’s Watch Release

Michigan-based watchmaker Shinola is donating proceeds of their new Grassland Runwell to efforts that support criminal justice reform including the impact campaign for the upcoming feature film, Grassland.
Courtesy Shinola

Michigan-based watchmaker Shinola is donating proceeds of their new Grassland Runwell to efforts that support criminal justice reform including the impact campaign for the upcoming feature film, Grassland.
By High Times

With an increasing focus on advocacy, luxury watchmaker Shinola is again raising awareness of inequities that plague the criminal justice system, particularly for people impacted by the criminalization of cannabis, many of whom remain behind bars.  

In 2020, the Detroit, Michigan-based brand introduced the Twenty After Four Detrola watch in collaboration with rapper and advocate Common, as well as Woody Harrelson, who now runs a dispensary and lounge in California. Proceeds of the Detrola release also went to Common’s chosen organizations that fight for criminal justice reform: the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and the Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Shinola is again raising awareness—donating to two new efforts that support criminal justice reform—with the all-new limited edition 41-millimeter Grassland Runwell, designed in collaboration with actor and Michigan native Quincy Isaiah. The budding actor’s portrayals include his role as Magic Johnson in the series Time to Win: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. He stars in the upcoming social justice drama Grassland, which confronts the failures of the criminal justice system, head-on, as it impacts families and diminishes their chances at long-term success. Grassland, which is produced by David Goldblum and Adam Edery, is set to premiere later this year.  

The Grassland Runwell aims to promote change by bringing awareness to the racial disparity in cannabis arrests that is now impossible to ignore: as people monetize cannabis, others remain behind bars for something that is now legal for medical or recreational purposes in most states. A portion of the proceeds of each watch, limited to 420 pieces, is pledged to support criminal justice reform policies, with donations going to two new groups: Imagine Justice and the impact campaign for Grassland. Imagine Justice is a project of Free To Dream Institute, a social impact venture founded by Common.

Courtesy Shinola

The Grassland Runwell

“We’re calling it the 41-millimeter Grassland Runwell,” says Philip Pirkovic, Shinola’s Director Of Brand & Partnerships, and who helped to develop the new watch which was based on Shinola’s flagship Runwell Collection of watches. “It’s a limited edition watch and we’re only making 420 of them.”

The creative design team worked diligently to develop a concept for a classy, cannabis-friendly watch that isn’t too loud to wear in the workplace. The idea was to create a nod to cannabis while keeping the look of the watch in par with the refined look of Shinola’s Runwell Collection.

“It’s a quartz movement watch,” says Shinola Creative Designer Christopher Daniels. “What makes this one special is that we have a green dial with a blue number four and a weed leaf at the thirty-second mark.”

The hand-assembled watches boast argonite 1069 quartz movement, with a matte velvet green dial. It’s alway 4:20, because the watch has a aqua-blue C5 lume illuminated number four and the 20-minute mark, and a fan leaf at thirty-second mark to designate our favorite time of day. Its olive leather strap also features green glow-in-the-dark stitching. But you also won’t be advertising that you smoke in a pervasive way.

“As for design, we wanted the watch to be more minimal in that sense,” Daniels says. “The first one was more kind of a celebratory, with a weed leaf pattern on the dial. This one we want to do a nod to it but in a more serious [tone]. 

“One of the cool things we were able to do with this one is custom packaging for the box,” says Pirkovic. “So we have this custom box that is partially made out of hemp paper. But the cool part about it is on the side, the size of the watch box.”

They explained that the watch box displays the number 40,000—for a reason. Statistics show there are some 40,000 Americans in prison on cannabis charges. A 2007 Bureau of Justice Statistics (BLS) report that divided state and federal incarcerated populations by substance-specific drug offenses found that there are over 40,000 people in prison for cannabis in the U.S. Then again in March of 2021, another BLS analysis used data gathered in 2018, and when applied to the earlier report’s figures, arrived at similar numbers. This is why organizations that aim to free pot prisoners say the number is around 40,000, while the actual number is difficult to reach.

The Push for Criminal Justice Reform With Grassland and Shinola

The main concept of this product launch is to support efforts that they can stand behind. “We will be donating half of the proceeds from this watch to Common’s Imagine Justice and the other half is going to go toward supporting the impact campaign for the upcoming film Grassland,” says Pirkovic. 

When Shinola launched the Twenty After Four watch in 2020, the team pledged to donate $176,400, equaling total sales, to the two groups. In 2024, the Shinola team plans to renew their push for criminal justice reform.

As explored in the upcoming independent film Grassland, law enforcement continues to incarcerate people for cannabis—many of whom are good people—and it’s disproportionately affecting minorities, making it difficult for people with minor offenses to get jobs once they re-enter society. This is evident in the way it impacts children like young Leo (played by Ravi Cabot-Conyers). And while cannabis is increasingly decriminalized across the country, many people are still locked up for cannabis-only offenses. 

“There’s a lot to be said about marijuana reform. When people go through that experience it’s so much harder to succeed,” Pirkovic says. The Shinola team was moved after seeing a private screening of Grassland—so much so that they wanted to create a partnership with Isaiah. 

“We were just like both just so moved by it,” Pirkovic says. “On our way back to Detroit, we were just like, ‘What can we do to help?’ Quincy’s message is just so powerful and what he’s trying to do. We saw the 420 release and thought maybe we could do our own spin on it.”

“Today there’s still 40,000+ people are incarcerated for the first time even to this day, so we are able to use that stat that’s on our packaging paper we’re super excited to kind of tie in some of those elements through the packaging—but not as much on the watch that we did the first time,” says Pirkovic. “So for us as a brand this is about empowering Quincy’s message and using the brand as a conduit to support these efforts and why he wanted to do this. We’re merely just a vessel.”

“At the end of the day, we’re making a product and we’re having these elements of design, incorporated into it from the hemp paper on the box to everything else,” Pirkovic adds. “But we wouldn’t be doing this. So that was a big part of what we’re doing here.”

To learn more, visit the Shinola website.

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