Ben From Ben & Jerry's Is Now In The Cannabis Business

Half of the ice cream dream team that brought you the psychedelic-inspired flavors of Cherry Garcia, Wavy Gravy, and Half Baked is now in the cannabis business. Let us give you a moment to collect yourself while you gasp in shock. Okay, maybe it's not the biggest surprise that Ben Cohen, part of the duo that launched Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, has forayed into the world of weed. After all, growing and smoking/consuming marijuana for recreational purposes has been legal in his home state of Vermont since 2018, and he's been known to enjoy the occasional happy smoke himself while hanging out with friends.

In fact, Cohen got the idea for B3, or Ben's Best Blnz, while smoking marijuana with a friend. Similar to his ice cream, B3 features different blends or types, although these are designed to get its users high rather than settle a sweet tooth. However, Cohen told Burlington Free Press that he actually developed his brand of marijuana to be less potent. B3 contains less THC (the chemical that causes intoxication and altered consciousness) than many variants of modern marijuana. Cohen said, "It's just too strong for a lot of people."

Currently, B3 is starting out with a medical line of cannabis products with plans to move into adult recreational use once they receive their approved application from the state. In addition, Cohen is using the company to highlight social injustices. 

Pot with a social mission

Lest you think this is just about getting people high so they'll splurge on pints of Ben & Jerry's when they get the munchies, Ben Cohen has registered B3 as a nonprofit in Vermont, according to its website. B3 funds its social initiatives by collecting royalties from for-profit partners for things like packaging and trademarks. Currently, the business is funding three social initiatives with 80% of its profits going to NuProject, 10% going to the Last Prisoner Project, and 10% to the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance.

The Vermont Racial Justice Alliance was created to help shine a light on and reform systemic racism; meanwhile, the Last Prisoner Project aims to foster the release of people imprisoned on cannabis charges. As for the NuProject, the program provides grants to help black entrepreneurs with licensed cannabis businesses and works to address inequalities in ownership opportunities.

While he may be known for Ben & Jerry's, Cohen doesn't want his previous business venture to overshadow his journey into the world of cannabis. As he told the Burlington Free Press, "We're looking to downplay the Ben part. Not because of Ben & Jerry's, just because it's not about me. It's about these guys and the cause, righting the wrongs of the war on drugs."