By Spencer Feingold

The social justice non-profit FREE is launching a new campaign to create jobs for people formerly incarcerated on marijuana charges ー by opening its own grow facilities and putting them to work.

The organization aims to raise $500,000 in next six months and open up cannabis grow facilities in multiple states, the group’s founder and CEO Dylan Hood told Cheddar on Tuesday.

“It’s a booming revenue industry,” Hood said. “And I can’t help but think about all those individuals that have been arrested for marijuana violations.”

Named “Two Million Square Feet of Hope,” FREE's marijuana project aims to create 2,500 jobs in multiple grow sites and employ people of color who have been jailed for marijuana-related offenses. The initiative is be part of FREE's larger mission to prevent recidivism through support and mentoring.

“We will provide employment to those individuals in whatever areas we can, whether it is in distribution and cultivation or in retail,” Hood said.

The facilities aim to generate $300 million in revenue, all of which will be put back into programming and community development, Hood said. FREE also promises to provide an average starting annual salary of $52,000 and ensure that over 50 percent of the jobs created go to women.

An almost unimaginable initiative 10 years ago, Hood’s campaign hopes to take advantage of marijuana's rapidly changing legality and use its profits to help correct historical injustices that arose from the nation’s drug statutes.

“We’re waging war on the war on drugs by hiring the very people who’ve been disproportionately impacted by it,” the group's website states.

FREE is asking patrons to donate a fitting amount of $4.20 to support the cause. For $420, a supporter can name one of the group's marijuana strains, Hood told Cheddar.

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