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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Good Fight: Farms and Crime

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A sense of justice and fairness is what led Dennis Hunter and Ned Fossell to launch Farmer & Philon, a cannabis grower and advocacy brand dedicated to social justice. The duo knows very well how radically bans can change lives.

“When you’re incarcerated, and even when you’re awaiting sentencing, it feels like an eternity before you’re released — it can feel very dark,” said Hunter. The Emerald Triangle native spent more than six years in prison after a federal raid on his illegal cannabis farm in Late 1990s. Upon his release, he connected with fellow farmer Fossil and the pair went on to launch the influential CannaCraft family of brands, which includes Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts. The company became a small compliance model and saw sales soar. It was a Cinderella story, almost unfathomable Gore it for the vast majority of cannabis offenders.

But despite the amazing transformation, Hunter and Fossil never forgot where they came from. They knew they wanted to support restorative justice efforts and raise awareness of the plight of those still suffering because of the ban. But the lightbulb doesn’t go off until a fateful dinner meeting with mentor Terry Wheatley, CannaCraft’s chairwoman.

She said, “There are growers and criminals” as we sat, and I was like, “This is our brand new!” The name stuck, and thus Farmer and Felon were born. As CannaCraft’s first flower line, Farmer and Felon took the company back to its roots while at the same time maintaining Hunter and Fussell’s desire to educate the cannabis community at large.

Farmer and Felon’s product catalog includes eighths, quarters, ounces and pre-rolls.

“We wanted to be able to tell the story of the company and the founders who used cannabis and the injustice that happened,” Hunter said. “And the name really lends itself to doing that. But we really see an opportunity to use the brand to share information and get the message across — to intervene in change in the industry and how people view cannabis.”

With a clear vision, the team set to work. In another stroke of serendipitous fortune, cannabis activist and Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo approaches Hunter with a new venture that gets along almost too well.

“It was probably a month after it was released when he approached me with the idea for the Last Prisoner project,” Hunter said. “I just thought, ‘Wow, that’s a perfect fit—I’m about to launch a brand called Farmer and the Felon.'” ”

Last Prisoner Project (LPP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to freeing individuals imprisoned for non-violent cannabis offenses and supporting those recently released from custody. The mission was a perfect match. As such, Farmer and the criminal agreed to include LPP messages in each of their products, with a portion of the sales benefiting the nonprofit.

Once launched in March 2020, Farmer and the felon resonated with consumers, many of whom loved the opportunity to do a little good every time they resurfaced. It also helps if a flower grown in the sun is a great bang for your buck.

Varieties include The Farmer, Felon Orange Creamsicle, Legend OG, Blue Dream, and Strawnana.

“We have more than 40 years of combined experience in farming, and we want that to be true in every bag,” Hunter said. “We want to get this brand as close to the factory as possible.”

The product catalog includes eights (the company’s best-seller), quarters, ounces, and pre-rolls with varieties like Orange Creamsicle, Legend OG, Blue Dream, and Strawnana. The brand also plans to create a line of solvent-free rosin cartridges in the near future.

Bringing premium flowers at affordable prices to the market is the goal of many cannabis brands, but the message behind Farmer and Felon is most important to the team. “No matter how dark it seems, there are a lot of beautiful things in the criminal justice system,” Hunter said when asked if he had any advice for people still making their way through the criminal justice system.

“I missed a lot, but now I can look back on all that I accomplished once I got out. Wait and get over it, then cherish the opportunities you had.”

This story was originally published on printed edition of hemp now.

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