Elaborate “Country Club Cannabis” campaign parodies how the green wave favors the privileged

A week before April Fools Day, advertisements for “Country Club Cannabis," an elite private club where the privileged could toke freely with their ilk, appeared across New York City and on social media. There was even a website and fake physical storefront in Manhattan with a marquee asking “Are you worthy?” in massive letters across from a heraldic coat of arms featuring a cannabis leaf.

It was all an elaborate hoax meant to expose the glaring inequalities in the modern day green wave, which the privileged and wealthy benefit from, while the underprivileged and those with criminal records from the days of the ‘war on drugs’ are often marginalized.

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The Drug Policy Alliance, an advocacy group which “envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more,” launched the campaign with the creative agency, Virtue.

Membership benefits in the fake club included a spa, rooftop greenhouse, cannabis investment consultations, and access to “legal counsel” for premium members. Applicants could be rejected due to their criminal histories, credit scores, educational backgrounds, or country of citizenship.

A mission statement on the club website reads “Country Club Cannabis was created with traditional values in mind. Join us in a celebration of our heritage to ensure an elevated, clean experience. We are founded on the belief that you should have a space where your reputation and influence can be recognized among others who share your values.”

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On Thursday, the DPA put out a statement revealing it was all a hoax meant to highlight their policy proposals while New York State works toward marijuana legalization. Included in these proposals are automatically clearing criminal records for those with marijuana convictions, starting an equity program that favors small businesses over large corporations, and reinvesting marijuana revenues in communities that have been most impacted by the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana.

In the announcement Kassandra Frederique, the New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance said “Legalization creates opportunities for places like Country Club Cannabis to exist, but the framework of legalization in New York should not reinforce a culture of exclusion and othering. A legalization model that creates exclusive spaces like CCC but does not reinvest in communities, does not create space for other people to participate meaningfully in the market, and does not clear records, should not be the legalization framework here in New York. This fight is about more than marijuana and about more than having the privilege to indulge. It’s about people and about investing in the dignity and humanity of all New Yorkers.”

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