Ascend Wellness announced the next evolution of its social equity program with the launch of 'Ascend CO-LAB for Social Equity.' "This move emphasizes our company's dedication to fostering a stronger and more equitable cannabis industry and cultivating relationships within the social equity community."

To celebrate this, Ascend will unveil the Ascend CO-LAB for Social Equity 'takeover' at its stores throughout the month of February, featuring limited-edition merchandise and the launch of its 'Round-Up' program. 100% of the proceeds from the exclusive merchandise will directly contribute to supporting the initiatives of the Ascend CO-LAB for Social Equity. Further, through the 'Round-Up' program, customers can choose to round up their receipts to contribute to the CO-LAB.

The mission of the Ascend CO-LAB for Social Equity is to foster a stronger, more equitable cannabis industry by collaborating and addressing the social disparities from the war on drugs in order to spark change. The CO-LAB commitment is rooted in the vision of an inclusive and sustainable industry, recognizing the importance of diversity, equity, and restorative justice. The CO-LAB advocates for the rights and participation of all, especially those historically affected, aiming to rectify past injustices through actions like expungement and decriminalization. The Ascend CO-LAB is a testament to the company's unwavering belief in a shared future marked by collective growth, healing, and prosperity. Key initiatives include:

  1. Mentorship programs: In 2023, Ascend Social Equity, now Ascend CO-LAB, directly mentored 35 social equity licensees and an additional 65 social equity candidates through partnerships with the Minority Cannabis Academy, totaling 100 mentees. The focus of mentorship is on guiding current and potential social equity license holders in all aspects of running a successful cannabis business.
  2. Cultivation education tours: Ascend provided 24 cultivation tours in 2023 for social equity license holders, offering in-depth knowledge of cultivation facility operations.
  3. Expungement and resource clinics: In collaboration with partners, Ascend hosted 19 expungement clinics and resource fairs in 2023, serving over 1,200 individuals by providing legal support and essential resources such as mental health, food, housing, and employment services.
  4. Donation: In 2023, Ascend donated more than $300,000 to dozens of grassroots organizations and minority communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. In addition to these donations, in 2023, Ascend's consumers donated over $350,000 to the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), representing a total of $2.3 million in contributions to LPP together with our customers since program inception in 2021. Funds collected through the "Round-Up" program, launched during the takeover, will support initiatives like these and contribute to donations for grassroots organizations, supporting communities impacted by unjust laws.

"We believe justice is a 'Joint Effort' and that those closest to the pain are closest to the solutions," said Danielle Drummond, Vice President of Social Equity. Drummond continued, "That's why we partner directly within the black and brown communities most disproportionately impacted to come up with solutions. We have cultivated authentic relationships fostering seamless collaboration within the communities we serve. Together, we can create solutions that better communities, our company, and the industry at large. I am excited to continue to transform our program and embark on the next step in our work to pave the way for a more equitable future, one interaction at a time."

For more information:
Ascend Wellness Holdings