Founded by legacy operators, 40 Tons is more than just a cannabis, clothing, and accessories brand; it represents a second chance at life. By providing charitable prisoner merch, career conferences, NFTs, and facilitating partnerships, the founders of 40 Tons grow that much closer to achieving their goals.
40 Tons Exclusive Interview with Founders Loriel, Corvain, and Anthony
On paper, 40 Tons only got its start a little over a year ago. It has since turned into a heavily partnered brand. They still continue to provide cannabis job opportunities to their community and financial relief to several cannabis prisoners and their families. Respect My Region had the opportunity to interview the founders of 40 Tons. They went in-depth about the beginnings of the company, motivations for their work, and more. Continue reading to learn more about the socially conscious cannabis and apparel brand making a lasting impact on those affected by cannabis convictions.
Starting 40 Tons
Loriel, Anthony Alegrete, and Corvain Cooper are the founders of 40 Tons and have been through a lot together. Loriel Alegrete is the Chief Executive Officer of the company. She oversees macro strategy and strategic partnerships between other brands, advocacy groups, and organizations. She understands what it’s like to live apart from an incarcerated family member and care for the family in their absence. Not only did she experience it during her teens due to her brother being arrested, but her husband was also incarcerated multiple times throughout their relationship. She said, “This mission is so important to me because I’ve gone through what we aim to help people with. I had to figure out a lot of things while Anthony was incarcerated, which gave me the insight to know what help was needed.”
Her husband, Anthony Alegrete, oversees day-to-day organizational functions. This includes marketing, branding, and oversight of the macro strategy of 40 Tons. His knowledge of the market comes from his time in the legacy market and being an entrepreneur for 23 years. He also went back to school in his early thirties, where he obtained a bachelor’s in Business Marketing at the University of Las Vegas, and a Masters’s in Organizational Leadership at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. Their combined insight allowed them to see the need for change and fueled their mission to help those struggling with the same circumstances. Together, Anthony and Loriel came up with the idea for a social impact cannabis brand and help free their friend and co-founder, Corvain Cooper, another incarcerated cannabis prisoner.
Anthony and Corvain would talk over the prison collect call system almost daily and realized the
impact they could have if they created a platform.
Photo by J Boogie Love
Establishing 40 Tons and Freeing Corvain Cooper
While big cannabis titans were making millions of dollars in the legal market, Corvain Cooper was still behind bars for the same plant. Although he was imprisoned alongside Anthony, he was tried for his third felony offense and received a life sentence. In our interview, Corvain said, “I was convicted on my third strike, which meant I was sentenced with life in prison. And although the investigators of the case said that they had no evidence of me committing the crime, it was the hearsay of a criminal that got me convicted.” While many think his offense was minor, it landed him in a Louisiana federal prison; separated from his then-fiancé and two children.
There were several people that wanted to support him, but many causes didn’t provide direct relief. During this time, a company reached out to Anthony to create a brand around an existing cannabis supply chain. Seeing the opportunity to combine a better donation route for his friend, and create a brand for the cannabis company, 40 Tons was born.
“Corvain called me collect one day, we suggested the idea of forming the brand, and he came up with the name 40 Tons. We really liked it so we rolled with it and developed an extensive brand guide in the following four months with help from Aaron Silverman and Naphtali Rodriguez.”-Anthony Alegrete, Operations Director and Co-Founder of 40 Tons
Photo via Emily Eizen
Corvain Cooper’s Release
During Corvain’s incarceration, a documentary by legendary rap superstar Nas came out about the importance of marijuana policy form, and it featured Corvain Cooper. The documentary, Smoke: Marijuana and Black America, garnered some attention for 40 Tons. The team fought hard to keep their name in the news. They persisted and ultimately, it paid off. In 2021, Corvain was granted clemency and released from his life sentence in the not only the last day, but also the last hour of former President Donald Trump’s term. This feat couldn’t have been achieved without the support from several individuals and organizations alongside the 40 Tons team. He is now out on 10 years of parole, reuniting with his friends and family, rebuilding his life, and joining Anthony and Loriel to fight for those who are still incarcerated for cannabis charges.
When Corvain was released, it became clear to Anthony that 40 Tons would be bigger than just any cannabis and apparel brand. At this time, the newest challenge became figuring out a way to bring more people equity and full lives; to do that, they launched their first cannabis career conference. Anthony said, “Our first cannabis career conference was held in September 2021, eight months after Corvain’s release. We wanted to figure out a way that we could scale restorative justice and help those who needed a second chance”
Corvain Cooper is the chief brand ambassador of 40 Tons, a co-founder, and also its first success story. His life sentence inspired Loriel and Anthony to start the company, and his involvement with 40 Tons was essential to guiding the route of restorative justice.
Photo via Mike Rosati, Skunk Magazine
40 Tons Careers
They knew if they wanted to have a nationwide impact, they’d have to partner with individuals or
companies already in the HR, staffing, and recruiting field. Anthony said, “We knew we shouldn’t do
it alone, we needed to partner with professionals that we’re already in the space.”
Anthony met Brandon Mitchell, when he heard his interview on episode 59 of the acclaimed Earn Your Leisure podcast. After listening to that episode, Anthony knew this was a guy that could help take their vision further and was aligned with our core values. Brandon had scaled a resume company called Brand Resumes to 1.4 million in revenue and had an incredible amount of intelligence when it came to tech. He was also in the process of building a very successful SASS platform at the time, WriteSea.
The crazy thing about this story is that Anthony reached out to Brandon in a clever way. Brandon sold resumes. Anthony was an entrepreneur and didn’t really need a resume at the time. He also knew that reaching out as a regular person would probably get him put in the back of the line or placed in the “general” folder. Anthony was captivated by this young man and decided to purchase a $300 resume just so he could get one-on-one face time with Brandon. “I wanted to show Brandon I wasn’t just some knowledge hog trying to get free advice. Purchasing his services at retail prices would show him how serious I was; I also knew THIS was the guy that could help what we had going on. The energy was just different,” says Anthony. Anthony formed a friendship with Brandon and subsequently met another individual out of the same camp named William Sims, the Founder of the Freedom Unit. “The energy that these young entrepreneurs displayed gave me more energy and reaffirmed what we were doing was the right thing to do.”
In the end, 40 Tons & Brand Resumes formed 40 Tons Careers. Together they launched a never been done before career conference that wasn’t just your ordinary career fair. But one that was for the culture, by the culture. They called it the Canna Get a Second Chance: Cannabis Career Conference.
Photo via Mike Rosati, Skunk Magazine
‘Canna Get A 2nd Chance’ Cannabis Career Conferences
The Canna Get A 2nd Chance’ Cannabis Career Conference is one of 40 Tons’ biggest initiatives. Here, people with past cannabis convictions get their resumes reviewed, professional headshots taken, and are given access to cannabis jobs and scholarship opportunities. Some of the brands that have supported are The Shryne Group, STIIIZY, Curaleaf’s Rooted in Good, 710 Labs, WriteSea, Mediajel, PAX, Hemper, Dutchie, Vertosa, Oaksterdam University, Freedom Grow Forever, Cannnabiscapes, Rose Mary Jane, Marijuana Matters DC, CaniVision, Urban Aroma, Saucey Farms, The Freedom Unit, Pacific Stone, M4MM, LPP, The Source LA, Catalyst Cares, Chiefing, among others. Their events have assisted over 800 attendees, helping over 25% of attendees get an interview with their business of interest and hundreds of jobs fulfilled.
“There was a woman I met at one of our career conferences that expressed how nervous she was to apply for jobs when she saw the question, Have you ever been convicted of a crime, but after being encouraged to apply anyway, she ended up getting the job. It was so cool when I happened to run into her again while she was working at the company.”-Loriel Alegrete, Chief Executive Officer
Catch the next career conference is being held on August 13th in Trenton, NJ. You can register online here.
Graphic via 40 Tons
40 Tons Recent Partnerships
With Anthony’s 23 years of entrepreneurship, Loriel’s leadership, and Corvain’s story of overcoming the system, they have built a massive ecosystem of large brands that have supported or sponsored their conferences.
Recently, 40 Tons collaborated with Good Day Farm. They are a medical cannabis brand and launched two limited-edition vape pens in Arkansas and Missouri. With every purchase, a portion of the proceeds goes towards 40 Tons’ mission. The vapes are not only potent, but flavorful as well, with each one delivering a potentially uplifting or calming effect. You can choose between the citrusy, floral and diesel noted uplifting variety, named The Advocate: 20 TON. Either that, or you can choose The Legacy: 40 TON; a potentially calming berry blended with diesel flavors and aromas.
Photo via 40 Tons
Similarly, a new partnership was formed between 40 Tons, Sunset Connect, and HERBL. As a result, brand new 40 Tons branded products will be manufactured through Sunset Connect, a verified San Francisco social equity manufacturer, and distributed through HERBL Solutions. 40 Tons, they knew if they wanted a chance at success, they couldn’t just buy it and slap a label over something someone was already selling. They knew that their mission and social impact message was important but even more important was product quality; consumers want to smoke great products.
“What’s inside your package is just as important as what your brand stands on”-Corvain Cooper, Brand Ambassador
The partnership with Sunset Connect is a very special one because they are not only a social equity manufacturing company but also take big pride in their craftsmanship with the extreme level of detail they put in their products. Their love for the landrace traditions of extractions and the craft of producing hash is deeply rooted in their DNA. They have taken the ancient art of producing hash and turned it into a highly scientific method. Sunset Connect is truly on the cutting edge of hash production, combining different styles of hash-making techniques, combined with triple-A local sourcing, to make award-winning hashish. Legendary hash maker ‘Frenchie Canolli’ personally worked with the Sunset Connect Team before his unfortunate passing.
“High quality manufactured goods paired with a strong social impact mission is a recipe for success.”– Ali Jamalian, CEO of Sunset Connect
According to a quote from PRNewswire, Loriel said, “With the support of HERBL, 40 Tons will be able to impact significantly more lives. Sharing our brand and story with new audiences not only introduces consumers to our quality products but also enables our team to fund even more restorative justice initiatives. HERBL’s hands-on approach and organic relationship with our team place 40 Tons in a prime position to succeed.”
Photo by @thejojosnaps
Recently, Owls Oil, a 5-star premium Hemp company, joined the long list of companies who believe in the 40 Tons mission. The partnership began a year after Anthony met Luke Gavin, the owner of Owls Oil, at the Secret/Haze Cup in Las Vegas in 2021. Luke said, “I strongly believe in the 40 Tons mission, that no person should be incarcerated over the cannabis plant.” Together they created the Owls Oil x 40 Tons Gummies, donating 15% of the proceeds to the 40 Tons mission. Available in states that sell hemp products.
Over time, the 40 Tons team learned to adjust and adhere to California’s cannabis compliance. Today they have developed a pioneering brand that expands on the like-minded kindness of those who support the thousands of cannabis prisoners still behind bars and the need to bring more diversity and inclusion of BIPOC communities into the cannabis industry.
“We took our time finding legacy cultivators, social equity manufacturers, and or craft cannabis companies that made great products.”-Anthony Alegrete, Operations Director and Co-Founder of 40 Tons
Photo by 40 Tons
Partnerships with Purpose
Not only is 40 Tons partnering with companies to help provide careers and quality products. But they also believe in partnering with the latest technologies. Also, the Black Owned company Tetragram will feature 40 Tons as their first brand on the app. Tetragram is a SaaS platform positioned to be the “Yelp” of Cannabis by empowering cannabis and CBD consumers with the ability to Track, Rate, and Share their personal experiences with others. In addition, they partner with dispensaries, cultivators, brands, and doctors to help them tell their product’s story and connect directly to consumers. With the help from Tetragram, 40 Tons will get their products rated and shared so others can utilize them for the many medicinal benefits of the plant.
Last year the 40 Tons team linked with Saucey Extracts, another premium Cannabis brand in New York and developed a friendship with its owners Alex Todd, and Jim Jones. Additionally, Harlem New York Based rapper and mogul, Jim Jones rapped on a recent Mixtape by Urban Aroma about Corvain Cooper, 40 Tons, and his life sentence. As you can see 40 Tons is creating friendships, partnerships, and alliances with some of Hip Hop and Cannabis Royalty.
One last amazing accomplishment to mention is their partnership with Mediajel. In an effort to bring what they do to the social impact landscape of cannabis, they’ve donated $40,000 to the 40 Tons team to help with digital marketing ad placements. “We believe in what 40 Tons is doing and want to lend our digital ad placement expertise to their existing business model. We want to help them get more eyeballs to what they do and the products they sell,” said Guillermo Bravo, President of the Mediajel Foundation.
As you can read, 40 Tons is extremely leveraging partnerships to do social good and create a seat at the table.
Photo by @_shootpeople
Merch That Makes A Difference
With every 40 Tons affiliated purchase, some of the profit from sales goes to provide a better life for non-violent cannabis prisoners. This support helps fight their unjust sentences, engage in restorative justice, and/or find full, equitable lives once they return home to their families. In addition, those purchases support these three legacy operators and provide a new way for them to feed their families while remaining compliant.
Furthermore, buying a 40 Tons prisoner shirt can help improve that same prisoner’s quality of life because 100% of the profits from those particular shirts go directly back to prisoners’ commissary. Some of the prisoners you can support include Parker Coleman, Luke Scarmazzo, Edwin Rubis, Mohamed Taher, Dos Noun, among others. All of whom, had their lives ripped away for the same plant that reportedly props up a multi-billion-dollar industry.
Courtesy of 40 Tons @ the G4 LIVE Conference
40 Tons Social Impact NFT
40 Tons Brand was one of the first companies to offer an NFT at a major cannabis convention. The ‘40 Tons Flip of a Potcoin’ NFTs dropped for free at MJ Unpacked in 2021. A percentage of the royalties go towards cannabis prisoners via a separate wallet to help them with a second chance. The drop featured over 1,000 NFTs total. 40 Tons plans on dropping 80,000 total NFTs within the span of 5 years. This timeframe helps give the funds time to build before the suspected total US legalization of cannabis in hopefully 2 years.
In conclusion, this is a group that not only has created an incredible brand, forged many partnerships with big name companies, but they are doing the work.
When asked what was next for 40 Tons, they simply said, “investment!” “If we want to continue to have the impact we are having, we must scale across the country. That means an infusion of funds, and creating more strategic partnerships has to happen. We love to work, now it’s time to build our Voltron of a team.”
Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it’s not heavy!
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