Say “CCC” and many people – at least those from an older generation – think of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era public works program that put unemployed men to work.
Today, a different entity is using the same acronym to define their public service efforts. While the original CCC’s mission was to pull America out of a Depression, this group focuses on improving the image of the cannabis industry.
“I want to show that we can all find a common goal with this plant,” said Colored Cannabis Collective President Ahnya Smith. “I am just trying to build a cannabis community we can all support.”
Colored Cannabis Collective – or ‘Triple C’– is a Seattle-based non-profit that works to alleviate stereotypes associated with marijuana, and improve communities through networking, charity events, and community service projects, all centered around pot.
Smith, who works at Herban Legends, a Seattle cannabis retailer, started the group with fellow cannabis-activist Lorenz Houston last September.
“We linked up and became friends and talked about the issues that we were seeing with cannabis and how the ‘War on Drugs’ really messed things up,” said Smith. She contends that prohibition has limited access, knowledge and research involving the cannabis plant.
“We wanted to be the change that we wanted to see in the industry,” she said.
This change includes giving back to communities through neighborhood cleanup days, putting together gift bags for homeless people, recycling, conducting food drives, fundraisers, holding smoke sessions, and other activities.
Members also work to change the stereotypes that people associate with marijuana use and users. CCC is working to normalize cannabis use with a public relations campaign that includes marketing materials featuring people of color (POC), LGBTQ and women. The only people Smith says are excluded are those under age 21, the legal age limit to use cannabis.
While Smith welcomes everyone to the CCC, she says people of color have been unfairly prosecuted and persecuted for using cannabis over the years – much more so than their white counterparts.
“We want to bridge the gap between the badge and everyday people,” said Smith.
Events aren’t currently scheduled on a regular basis but Smith hopes to soon start having monthly meetings, along with regular social, civic and charity events. She’d like to expand statewide, and is planning an event in Spokane as early as this fall.
The long-range objective is to take CCC national. Smith plans to visit Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and hopes to organize some meetups and cleanups while there.
In the meantime, Smith says she has people who want to help CCC grow by serving on the board that will eventually govern the non-profit. But she also says she has been criticized by some people for the inclusivity of the CCC.
“I’ve had people say they couldn’t be involved because I’m OK with those other than POC. What I want to share is that we can all find a common goal and a common good with this plant.”
Participants range across the board when it comes to demographics, from young to old, male to female, and with a wide spread of ethnicities represented.
As for the people who do want to be involved, Smith says it’s for a variety of reasons.
“I think it’s people wanting to give back. Some love conservation and love the clean-up aspect. Others love the inclusion. Some just love the smoke seshs and the social aspect. It’s a draw of different things for different people.”
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