January 11, 2024

ACHEM Launches Innovative Freedom Initiative with Major Support from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation 

January 11, 2024
Medical Cannabis Advocacy

The Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) is the leading voice in medical cannabis advocacy for people of color, and they have taken yet another big step as they continue to design strategies to restore the communities harmed most by cannabis prohibition.

I am so excited to share that ACHEM announced this week the launch of the ACHEM Freedom Initiative (AFI), a groundbreaking program designed to train medical and legal experts to safeguard the rights of medical cannabis patients ensnared in the justice system. This initiative is bolstered by a generous $100,000 contribution from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, underscoring a shared commitment to advancing health equity. 

ACHEM Freedom Initiative Mission and Goals:

  • Creating a Legal Resource Library: a comprehensive toolkit for legal defense in medical cannabis cases 
  • Training ACHEM Experts as Legal Consultants: enhancing expertise at the intersection of medical and legal cannabis use 
  • Fostering Medical-Legal Collaboration: strengthening partnerships between healthcare and legal professionals for a unified defense strategy 

Despite the legalization of medical cannabis, patients and healthcare providers continue to face stigma and legal challenges, especially in historically excluded communities. The ACHEM Freedom Initiative aims to remedy these issues.

Inspired by a case handled by Dr. Carmen Jones, an ACHEM board member and now Director of AFI, the initiative seeks to replicate her success in using scientific evidence to aid a patient of color in retaining child custody and avoiding incarceration. This case exemplifies the importance of the Freedom Initiative. 

“Incarceration rates are unjustifiably higher in Black communities and other communities of color. Patients are neglected in healthcare settings. We’re proud to create an effort that allows us to combat two forms of injustice that leave our communities in a state of poor health.”

– Dr. Carmen Jones, Director of the ACHEM Freedom Initiative

Dr. Jones elaborated on how the ACHEM Freedom Initiative plans to address the specific legal challenges faced by medical cannabis patients, especially in historically marginalized communities. She explained, “Historically, African American communities have been arrested for violating marijuana possession laws at nearly four times the rate of whites, despite both ethnicities consuming marijuana at roughly the same rates, according to the ACLU. We believe many of these individuals are likely using cannabis medicinally. Due to widespread distrust in governmental systems within these communities, they may not feel comfortable, be financially able, or have access to obtaining a medical card. If convicted of a “drug-related” crime, these individuals risk losing their livelihood, employment, housing, children, or their health. ACHEM aims to interrupt this process and restore the community.”

ACHEM has partnered with the National Association of Black Cannabis Lawyers (NABCL) to create a workgroup with legal and medical experts to facilitate program execution and professional collaboration. NABCL is a membership association of attorneys, law students, and advocates preparing members to participate in, respond to, and take action in the national conversations around cannabis legalization, regulation, policy reform, and civil rights.

ACHEM and Equity

AFI reflects the organization’s dedication to aiding communities historically marginalized in healthcare. AFI aims to empower patients, healthcare providers, and legal teams in navigating complex legal challenges by providing resources, training, and support. 

The Association for Cannabis Health Equity and Medicine (ACHEM) is the first medical association for people of color in cannabis, collectively designing strategies to restore communities harmed by prohibition. The organization exists at the cross-section of science and social responsibility, preparing and empowering members to use their skills collaboratively to make health equity a reality for all.

ACHEM Collaboration with The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation

As mentioned, this new step for ACHEM would not have been possible without the amazing support from The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation. Their mission is to inspire, connect, and cultivate a community of purpose. The Foundation is deeply rooted in helping create healthier communities, empower the next generation, and preserve our planet. The Hawthorne Social Justice Fund, within The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation, supports nonprofit organizations with cannabis social justice missions. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that funds non-profit entities that support its core initiatives through grants, endowments, and multi-year capital gifts. For more information, visit . 


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