If you ask 40 Tons founding member Anthony Alegrete about the very beginning of the brand, he would go back to 20 years ago when he and Corvain Cooper sold their first gram of cannabis together — but 40 Tons was only officially founded in the last few years by Anthony and his wife Loriel Alegrete, and their friend Corvain. Currently, 40 Tons is an equity-focused social impact cannabis brand in California’s adult-use cannabis market that sells apparel and accessories to support those behind bars for cannabis charges, and goes further to provide support as they re-enter society.
Corvain Cooper’s story touched a lot of people in the months before he was granted clemency. He was arrested just before the statute of limitations was up on a conspiracy to traffic cannabis and financial crimes. Despite the small amounts of cannabis that he had shipped years prior, he was tried for more than 40 tons of cannabis that was trafficked throughout the entire operation. Corvain was given a life sentence in 2014 — worse, he was to serve that sentence across the country in Louisiana, far from his family and support system. By 2020, social justice was finally being widely discussed in the cannabis industry and Corvain’s story started gaining attention. At the end of January 2021, with the help of many individuals and organizations, Corvain was finally granted clemency and released from prison back to his family home in Los Angeles.
Now, Corvain makes up one-third of the founding team of 40 Tons, a brand named after the amount of cannabis that was used against him and others caught up in the conspiracy. The brand first picked up steam when organizations and charities reached out to Loriel and Anthony in the months leading up to Corvain’s release to help them establish a foundation for a business. That is when the first pitch deck for 40 Tons was born, and the mission went beyond freedom for Corvain: 40 Tons is a brand focused on helping those who are unjustly sentenced behind bars for cannabis crimes.
“There’s still so much work to be done. We made a huge win championing behind our friend Corvain and we’re on to our next one,” said CEO Loriel Alegrete. “We just won’t stop until everyone is home who has gotten these horrific sentences for a plant.”
The brand operates in a legally compliant fashion which allows Corvain to participate as a brand ambassador without risking the conditions of his parole. As the incarcerated come home, 40 Tons will have a piece of merchandise designed for them along with some funds to promote on social media. This provides a true foundation for individuals to get back into the industry and gain access to real commerce. Additionally, a part of each purchase on the site will be donated to people still behind bars to help offset the costs of imprisonment. And the cost on the incarcerated is higher than most citizens realize: every phone call a prisoner makes incurs costs on the person calling and the family member who picks up, not to mention that many essential items like reading glasses aren’t provided to inmates. The team also spends funds providing postage for letter-writing campaigns, which brings joy to people serving time.
These are the reintegration efforts carried out by 40 Tons, but it goes without saying that everyone who does business in the cannabis industry should focus on social equity and reintegration. Amplifying the cause on social media, signing petitions, listening to people like Corvain, and educating those who haven’t woken up to the hypocrisy are only the first steps into this work. Taking action one step further would be to put income from a cannabis brand directly into the cause. Mentoring is another viable method of helping provide a start for those reentering society after being incarcerated for cannabis entrepreneurship.
Anthony, Corvain, and Loriel are eternally grateful for the mentors that have guided them as they forge ahead with 40 Tons. When the company was just an idea, Brittany Barnett from the Buried Alive Project followed through with a loan on favorable terms that helped them get the website up and running, and many other industry vets have stepped up for the trio. Other mentors include Doc Ray, who has been teaching them about cultivation; Marie Montmarquet and her brother Allen Hackett of MD Numbers, who provide insights into the economics of the space and into cannabis licensing, product sourcing, and other operations; and Kamel Jacot of Weedmaps. Zoe Wilder has also been great for press and media, and Nathan Cozzolino of Rose has been a huge help. Naphtali Rodriguez and Aaron Silverman were instrumental in the building of the brand and provided pro bono services to launch the 40 Tons brand in the very beginning. When asked about mentorship, they couldn’t leave Dr. E. Lance McCarthy out, a man that has worked closely with them to bring economic development to Los Angeles through a partnership with the Urban Hip Tech Foundation. These unsung heroes didn’t ask for recognition, but Loriel and Anthony say it’s important that people know it took mentorship and guidance for them to step into the power of their brand.
As the brand continues to build a following, 40 Tons is close to releasing collaboration gummy with the Evidence line that will be available in Cookies California stores. But their goals go further than white labeling one product — their true interest is in acquiring their own license and eventually achieve full vertical integration. The 40 Tons brand is working on some large endeavors and will have an entire line of Cannabis products that will release Summer 2021. The brand is specifically looking to operate in Hawthorne, California, due to local support for social equity cannabis businesses.
“Hawthorne is doing some really great things in their community and we’d love to work with that city as it relates to social equity in cannabis,” said Anthony Alegrete.
On top of all of these endeavors, the 40 Tons team is constantly grinding. Loriel is just over a year away from acquiring her nursing degree, which she intends to use to raise awareness about the benefits of the cannabis plant. She also serves as a member of the advisory board for Marijuana Matters DC, an organization that acclimates people to society by teaching about job interviews, computers, and other life skills that aren’t available while incarcerated. Their work never stops, and their execution is evolving, but the mission of 40 Tons remains steady.
“We just want to bring fair light to these unjust laws, not because we’re victims but because they’re legitimately not right,” said Anthony Alegrete. “We just want what’s right, we want to earn our way and start at the same point as everyone else and receive based on the merits that we put into the work.”
There are many ways to support 40 Tons and Corvain Cooper as he continues to rebuild his life after receiving clemency. First, visit the 40 Tons website to buy merchandise and apparel; also, visit Corvain’s GoFundMe to support his family and reentry. People in California can visit Cookies retail stores which currently carry Amplifier Art-branded flower with Corvain on the package, and soon the brand’s Evidence gummies. These actions will support the cannabis-incarcerated and their reentry as Loriel, Anthony, and Corvain continue their fight for justice against the unjust drug war.
40 Tons is currently focused on bringing awareness and providing support to Parker Coleman, Luke Scarmazzo, Pedro Moreno, Ismael Lira, Michael Woods, Damion Sleugh, and many others. Follow the links to a social share to learn more about their unjust sentences and to get each person’s address to write letters in solidarity as they fight for freedom.