While cannabis is becoming legalized in many states, it’s still technically illegal on a federal level and there are many laws keeping cannabis offenders in prison unfairly. A new campaign from a group of industry creatives puts these laws directly on rolling papers, so people can smoke while raising awareness and money to get these laws off the books.
The Burn Book was started to bring attention to the laws keeping people in prison for cannabis possession and to raise money for the Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit that fights against the criminalization of the plant and tries to free those in prison because of it.
The group of creatives, including Han Lin, executive design director at Grey, created the papers with rolling paper company Field Trip Papers and printed those laws that unfairly and disproportionally put people of color behind bars for minor drug offenses on the rolling papers. The group then committed a portion of the profits of every pack sold to the Last Prisoner Project, essentially making the act of smoking weed an act of protest and activism.
Lin said the idea was born over text in the middle of the pandemic in February 2021.
“What began as a very casual conversation between my friends Alec Kleinfeld and Dan Greener became a fully-fledged idea within weeks. I helped bring the design to life and Diarra White—who sits on the junior board of the Women’s Prison Association—helped us focus our message and create an outcome that actually benefited the communities harmed by the legislation we wanted to burn,” Lin told Adweek.
From there, the group contacted every rolling paper company and manufacturer they could find online until Kat Kaneski at Field Trip rolling papers took a chance on their idea. They then photographed and built social media, including a TikTok channel that has already received nearly 64,000 likes and hundreds of thousands of views, and a YouTube video explaining the project.
On a dedicated website that also lets people buy the papers, the information lists the reasons for the papers’ existence and synopsizes some of the many harmful laws in a timeline, from the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 to National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 and beyond. An accompanying Instagram page provides more information, including facts on incarceration.
Lin said the point of the project was to turn an act of recreation into one of protest, education and impact—essentially putting money back into the communities of those harmed by the legislation on the papers.
“To date, we’ve donated over $5,000 dollars to the Last Prisoner Project to help those impacted by the war on drugs pay for medical bills, legal fees, phone calls and commissary funds. As the project continues to expand and sales continue to grow quarter after quarter, we plan on activating locally and teaming up with other organizations in the space,” said Lin.
The books of rolling papers can also be found in over a dozen dispensaries and shops, several of them run by men and women of color.