Fab 5 Fred Brathwaite & Bernard Noble Team Up for Prison Reform

Bernard Noble and Fab 5 Freddy | In episode 97 of Light Culture Podcast, Paper Magazine founder David Hershkovits talks with Bernard Noble and Fab 5 Freddy about their new cannabis venture–B. Noble. The company is created in the legacy of Bernard’s unjust incarceration due to the possession of two joints in Louisiana. 

Can you imagine how it must feel to be serving a 13 year prison sentence for possession of two joints in the midst of a gold rush in the growing, selling, and marketing of weed.  Well, Bernard Noble can. He was that guy, but now he’s in the cannabiz thanks to the efforts of, among others, filmmaker and hip hop legend Fab 5 Fred Brathwaite. How Bernard got released and went into business with Brathwaite on BNoble prerolls is both a cautionary tale and an inspiring rare example of justice served better late than never.  Both blessed with gifts of gab, their story is recounted here in vivid detail that will make you both jump for joy and gasp in alarm.

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Q&A

David (00:00):

Can you imagine what it must feel like to be in jail for possession of weed while at the same time there’s a global gold rush to cash in on the growing, selling, and marketing of this plant-based medicine? Well, Bernard Noble can. Until a few years ago, he was in a Louisiana prison serving a 13-year sentence of hard labor without parole for possessing two joints worth of cannabis. Today, he’s free thanks to the support and hard work of his family, friends, and the New Orleans Innocence Project. Bernard Noble’s story originally came to my attention when I launched the podcast with my first guest, Fab 5 Fred Brathwaite. He had directed The Grass is Greener, a doc about the racist history of cannabis prohibition that ends triumphantly and improbably with the release of Bernard Noble from prison. Well, here we are a few years later with Bernard and Fred and Curaleaf teaming up to create B Noble, a pre-rolled package of two joints that helps provide legal funding for the defense of people wrongfully charged with non-violent cannabis related crimes. Part of the promise of cannabis legalization is social justice reform. Now that my guest today, Bernard Noble, and his advocate and now business associate, Fred Brathwaite, have shown the way, let’s hope many more follow, both in seeing justice served and in paving a way for the victims of the racist war on drugs to get a piece of the pie. So, welcome Fred and welcome Mr. Noble.

Bernard (01:50):

Thank you. Thank you.

Fred (01:52):

Hey, David. Thanks, great to be back with you.

David (01:54):

Sure. This is an ongoing story.

Fred (01:56):

Yeah. Light Culture’s in effect. This is dope.

David (02:00):

So, Fred, this is a great story with a happy ending. What has been the reaction so far to the launch of B Noble?

Fred (02:07):

Wow. That’s a good question as I just got back from Boston, which is the city in one of the two states where B Noble has been launched. It launched on 7/13, and that date was picked specifically to represent the seven years of the 13-years sentence, uh, Bernard served. So, on July 13th, this went on sale in Maryland and in Massachusetts, and it’s doing well. People are reordering. I finally got to taste the product. It’s dope, literally. It’s really good. There’s several strains that are in the B Noble packaging, some indicas, some sativas, and a hybrid. And so we’re off to the races. We’re gonna go back up soon with Bernard for a big full-on launch event. And we’ll go to Maryland and Bernard will be doing some talking and just spreading the gospel about this interesting twist on the story, which I was so happy to be involved with.

David (03:17):

Yeah. It also has this interesting aspect because your movie started in New Orleans, as the roots of this whole story and here we are back in New Orleans, full circle.

Fred (03:31):

Yeah. That’s the ironic fact of the matter. Jazz was born in Bernard’s home where he is right now in New Orleans, in the state of Louisiana and yeah, Some of the first anti-cannabis, news stories way in the, in the ‘teens and the ’20s… Once again, it was all racism that led to cannabis being criminalized because black folks making jazz and white folks wanted to come and enjoy and hear this music and share in the plant. And, racist people like Harry Anslinger, the first drug czar, didn’t want that to happen and that led to all this bad stuff, this reefer madness, this criminalization that we’ve had to live through. And it’s one of my favorite places. And you just mentioned a minute ago, David, that you lived in, down in that state-

David (04:35):

Yeah.

Fred (04:35):

… in New Orleans before we met actually, which I didn’t know until now, so.

David (04:41):

Yeah, in the ’70s. And I have to say, we did smoke weed back then (laughing) and we weren’t pulled over. So, Mr. Noble, may I call you Bernard?

Bernard (04:51):

Yeah.

David (04:52):

Okay. So, how does it feel? First you were put away for holding some weed and now you’re being celebrated for selling it. (laughs) That must be a crazy experience.

Bernard (05:03):

Yes. It’s kinda like a two-handed knife. You know, at one time, I was, I was lost and misled by the plant… Uh, from it being criticized so much, I thought that what’s happening to me was normal. So, later on, I figured it out and I learned to be and understand that I was a sacrifice for all the positive stuff that’s now happening. You know? So, this, this, this amazing change is great. I’m more interested in looking into the history now. Um, the plant came from hundreds of years ago.

Bernard (05:48):

I’m also learning through Curaleaf what the experience is about the cannabinoids that’s in a body, which all of us have. You know, it just affects people differently. So, I’m interested in all the science and I’m learning about how it helps insomnia, cancer, you know, Alzheimer’s, and stuff like that. I have people that have that kind of disease, so it’s really good. All of the negative stuff that was put on the plant and I took a beating for it, I feel good. I’m real happy. I’m not bitter about anything and I just wanna spread the gospel on B Noble, baby.

David (06:27):

That’s great to hear. I’m always surprised and amazed when I hear stories like yours of people who have been unjustly incarcerated for whatever and then they come out and they have good feelings and positive and they’re not totally bitter and (laughs) hating the world. It’s an amazing, uh, aspect of, of your personality, so I’m glad that, uh, you feel that way today.

Bernard (06:52):

Well, thank you. Because the prison system is designed, if people don’t know, to mentally really destroy you. And for example, I can still sometimes hear all the noise that’s inside of the places, but, um, I learned to adjust. I learned to live in there ’cause it’ll make you come out like a mad, mad dog being locked in a room. The size of the rooms there, we sitting in now for more hours than they have in a day. But I learned, I learned that I had to adapt to a different style of living. So, I took myself away from the city and I told those people that they took my body off of the street, but they never took my mind. They never took my willpower for wanting to do right and get out of there and make something out of it. So, I had to go through that struggle. And without that, I wouldn’t be here celebrating with you, so I’m grateful.

David (07:45):

Mind telling me a little bit about your background or, you know, what you were working on-

Bernard (07:50):

Yeah. 

David (07:51):

… or how, what you did? Yeah.

Bernard (07:53):

Yeah. Uh, well, I’m originally from here. Uh, I was here in the ’70s when you came.

David (07:57):

(laughs)

Bernard (07:59):

I came in, I came in the ’60s, you know? So, I been a native here all my life. I went to school here. I graduated here. I worked in Louisiana. I’m a pretty good cook. Um, that’s where I learned a lot about life. I didn’t have a whole lotta education, but I learned some things from all the hard times I went through. So, I love New Orleans. And a lot of people around me gonna be hopeful when they see me now. They can have something more positive to believe in.

David (08:35):

 Fred, tell me when you first heard about Bernard’s story, how that came to you originally.

Fred (08:43):

Wow. Well, in the process of putting Grass is Greener together, the main idea which got it going was to look at, at the history, as you explained, but also to look at cannabis as a connection to America’s music from Jazz all the way up to hip hop, reggae, rock and roll. And so many of the leading proponents, the leading architects of various musical genres, were big cannabis aficionados. Louis Armstrong co-founded-

David (09:18):

Every day.

Fred (09:20):

Yeah, one of the foundational pillars of jazz was an avid cannabis aficionado his entire life. So, that was the real idea. I said, “Man, I could be able to tell this story with music and really keep you moving and grooving.” But then, of course, I had to look at the criminal justice or the criminal mis-justice, especially how it’s affected way too many primarily folks of color which are disproportionately targeted. And I had originally seen a story on Bernard’s case, on a Vice TV show called Weediquette that I don’t think airs anymore. I happened to catch this show. Bernard was in prison and the show was focusing on his family. They were having a family gathering and they were telling his story and I was just so shocked.

Fred (10:14):

But then interestingly, David, when I did pick Bernard’s story to focus on, you also know my long-time friend, Dan Loeb. And Dan, the successful hedge fund, um, investor had decided to get involved in criminal justice reform. And he had targeted Bernard’s case and he was active and aggressive in working behind the scenes along with Jason Flom from the Innocence Project and other people to help get Bernard free. But I had forgotten all of that, picked Bernard’s case, had zeroed in. He was still in prison. We went to New Orleans when we were covering all the amazing things that happened culturally, but also this unfortunate story, and I interviewed Bernard’s family. That turned into a very tear-filled, emotional moment and I was just so upset and sad.

Fred (11:16):

And then luckily, Bernard and Dan Loeb’s efforts had a big role in this. Bernard finally got parole and we flew back to New Orleans. Back to Louisiana to film him walk out of prison and that’s how we met. And literally right there on camera in the film is when I met Bernard and I’m happy to see the kind of person he is, really an inspiration. He’s got an incredible vibe. He’s a quick learner and he’s now understanding he was put in this position as an example of the horrors of the system, but also now reaping some of the benefits from this plant.

David (12:00):

Bernard, when you heard that there was all this interest in your case, growing, did you ever expect that you would get out, or were you optimistic? How did you feel in those times?

Bernard (12:11):

It was some dark nights in there man, it was some totally dark nights in there. I actually thought that my life was gonna end in prison. You know, when I got there, I figured, this is like, Lord, this is how I’m gonna die? So, I had no hope. Um … things start getting better. I started seeing the light. I started actually hearing about that program that Fab just spoke about, Weediquette. So I started getting inspired. Fab 5 Freddy was a guy I used to watch on TV a lot, and one day I heard that he was interested, you know. And, and I’ll tell you man, from the day that this cat came into my life and I saw him interviewing my family, I knew then. I had hope.

Bernard (13:08):

And the day that I came out of prison, I saw him, and he was standing there waiting for me with my family. It was the most exciting day in my life. I knew that I had hope when I saw Fab out there. I didn’t know if I was just gonna get a welcome home or, give me an autograph or something, but I was gonna take it. And, uh, that’s when things started over for me and, Fab never let go of me so, me and that guy, it’s- it’s so cool now, I make him laugh when I tell him, “Man, I used to watch you on TV.”

Bernard (13:42):

Now, I’m his partner, you know, and it’s amazing. Like I said in the main house too, I used to watch on TV, I thought this kinda stuff just happened to other people, but …

Fred (13:54):

It was wild, David. Bernard came up to New York, we brought him up a couple of weeks ago we had a launch at, at Red Rooster, a launch event. And Bernard, he’s been to New York a couple of times, but just quick trips in and out.

David (14:09):

Yeah.

Fred (14:09):

And uh, he was walking around Harlem, and going into the subway, he didn’t even pay, I said Bernard, what do you mean?

David (14:16):

(laughs).

David (14:17):

He’s a real New Yorker man, he’s a real New Yorker already.

Bernard (14:19):

Yeah.

David (14:19):

(laughs).

Fred (14:20):

Yes he is, he is now, but he was live streaming- he was live streaming to his friends on Facebook, and he was just giving people a constant, like, “Hey man, I’m walking around the corner, I’m going into the subway.” He said he went into the subway (laughs), and they opened the gate and said, “Come on in!” I was like,

 

David (14:40):

(laughs).

Fred (14:40):

Glad there was no cops there (laughs).

David (14:41):

I know right. That’s the last thing we need at this point.

Bernard (14:45):

Yeah, it’s been really exciting, you know, and the opportunity that I have with Curaleaf, you know, it’s amazing for them to have this interest in me. Oh, it’s given everybody else in the game a chance to see what diversity is, and it’s also given me a platform to really help the people of color that I never thought I would be able to do.

Bernard (15:07):

I always been a different kind of guy, coming from where I came from, but now I embrace everything I’ve been through in life, because if not, I wouldn’t be here, so all I had to do is hold on. So when I hooked up with Fab 5 Freddy, it’s been beautiful and amazing and, I just- it’s all surreal, still.

David (15:29):

Definitely. How about the other, prisoners… curious about how they felt about what was happening for you. And also, were there other people, you know, in a similar situation as your own, who had been, you felt, unjustly incarcerated?

Bernard (15:47):

Oh, extremely. It’s a lot of people of color in prison for uh, just a little bit more than I had for non-violent charges. At the time when it started happening for me, it make you feel good in prison to get a letter from somebody.

Bernard (16:09):

So once they started seeing the progress going on with me, they would tell ’em all the time, you know, “Bro ,this makes me feel like I got a chance, you know, so if it worked for you, I hope you don’t forget us.” So, it was inspirational to hear from them that, you know, I was some hope for ’em, and yeah I would love to go back and help out with some of the guys that’s been cruelly unjust.

Bernard (16:34):

Um, they have guys in prison right now that destroyed people, like, for instance I was in there with some men that, when they marry, you have a baby, they sleep with they kid, okay. So I was locked up with those kind of men that god four years of prison time. And, they wanted to accuse me with a joint like I was the five dollar kingpin. I’m just excited to lead my people and show ’em the truth in the plant, because it go back way before we ever thought of.

Fred (17:13):

You know, David, I just want to point out something that I learned from Bernard recently. I mean, thankfully, I’ve never been in prison, I’ve only seen it in movies and stuff, and when you hear about hard labor, you tend to think, you know from movies, guys making license plates or, even the other type. So many American companies, sadly, use prison labor which is equivalent to slave labor.

Fred (17:39):

But when Bernard explained what hard labor is in Louisiana, it was shocking, and why he wanted to go to Angola which, you hear is one of the worst prisons in America, but he could explain, if you could, Bernard, about how they treated you, what hard labor was like, and why you actually wanted to go to Angola. Can you just share with David?

Bernard (18:06):

Yeah, sure. Well, one reason that the public needs to know, and you can quote me on this, it’s a modern day slavery going down in these penitentiaries in the state of Louisiana. So, hard labor in Louisiana consists of, I’m a just tell you this part where, I was took out on a work detail, put in the back of a van, it was real dark. They don’t allow us to see the street, so we couldn’t break and find our way out.

Bernard (18:36):

So when they got the van stopped, they opened the doors, I jumped out of the van. It looked like it was snowing outside, because all I seen was a bunch of black and brown men, sitting on buckets with rags tied on they head, and they were picking cotton.

Bernard (18:52):

So, I’m chained up and the big redneck guard comes to me and he tell ’em, “Boy, get to work.” So my only response to him was, I said, “Boss, I have 14 years in prison. I’m not picking no damn cotton.” So he looked down at me and he said, “Boy, don’t you know you could be put in the hole for a long time?” My response to him was, “Boss, I got 14 years, why are we still standing here? Take me to the hole.”

Bernard (19:20):

So, I was threw in the hole for like, 120 days. And, I learned to live like that. I wanted to go to one of the worstest prisons in the world, it’s called Angola, it’s a state penitentiary. It’s its own city, and they house over 7,000 inmates. I could have gotten killed there, but the only reason I wanted to go there, to get some education. I could have came out a lawyer.

Bernard (19:48):

the places I was in, we call ’em satellite camps. I wasn’t allowed to learn how to read a book. I was being treated as a slave, modernized. They took away the whips, but we still got the chains, you know. They got guns, they ain’t got no whips no more. So that’s modern day slavery in Louisiana is picking cotton, getting dragged by chains, threw in a hole, and that was my way of living in there to survive, is being put in a hole because I refused the 21st century slavery that they invent behind the walls that the public don’t know shit about. And it’ll destroy you.

David (20:31):

Yeah, the prison industrial complex. 

Bernard (20:33):

Yes.

David (20:33):

… did you have uh, access to weed there? ‘Cause we always hear stories that people can get anything they want in prison?

Bernard (20:41):

Uh, I’ll tell you, and that is so true. Um, the men wanted to be women in prison so, we were able to get cell phones, all kind of drugs, and if you never heard of it, they have um, transgender men that they would lock up with us, that put everything in their ass to bring into the prison. And w- that consists of telephones, drugs-

David (21:10):

Oh, oh 

 

Bernard (21:13):

… you know. Yeah so like, the move in life, when Eddie Murphy they had the nerve tell ’em, uh-uh (negative), I don’t want none o’ that. You know where that boy had that at? That come out his ass.

David (21:21):

Oh shit.

Bernard (21:21):

Yeah.

David (21:22):

(laughs).

Bernard (21:23):

And, it’s real. 

 

David (21:24):

It’s sad, but I can’t help laughing, I’m sorry, but it’s- it’s, you know.

Bernard (21:30):

That’s okay, 

Fred (21:31):

(laughs) David, you got me crackin’.

Bernard (21:32):

That’s okay. You know, I can tell it, it’s a story but it’s real, it’s life. And it’s okay to laugh because there’s a lot of things that’s going on that- the world all knew. It made me stronger, you know what I’m saying, I saw some ridiculous shit in prison, and a person should come out real bitter.

Bernard (21:51):

And I was fortunate to have people like Dan Loeb, Fab 5 Freddy, Jason Flom … um, I was one out of a million, so I’m a take this, and I’m a run with it, is … I’ve been waiting on something like this for over 40 years. So it’s my turn to give back and, it’s a new life, it’s a new day, and it’s B Noble.

David (22:12):

I hear you on that. Did you know that there was this big, you know, cannabis business growing outside while you were inside, paying the price for the couple of joints you had?

Bernard (22:25):

I did. I read about a lot of places. I read High Time magazines all the time. I saw guys like what’s his name, uh, dag. I can’t think of the guy’s name. It’s right on the tip of my tongue.

Fred (22:41):

Steve?

Bernard (22:43):

Steve D’Angelo, I’m about to say Carlos Santana.

David (22:45):

(laughs).

Bernard (22:45):

So, it was [crosstalk 00:22:48]-

Fred (22:48):

Bernard calls Steve D’Angelo Carlos Santana.

Bernard (22:50):

Man- no-

David (22:51):

Yeah because of the ponytail, right, he looks like him. Yeah.

Bernard (22:54):

Yeah, it was guys like Steve man, that uh, was doing real good in the business. He had people that came to his dispensary, wrote to the inmates to help ’em get words to the Governor to maybe get some kind of pardon, but as it was exploding, I really felt hopeful, and then it would be days I felt like shit. I have a conviction, I’ll never be able to see that kind of stuff.

Bernard (23:18):

And to see it turn around, I’m more than happy to be a part of it in that, everybody understood that I was wrongfully, and superly unjusted about a plant that’s been here before man.

David (23:33): Yeah and Louisiana has particularly harsh laws around that, uh, they have their own justice code, right, ’cause it still goes back to the Napoleanic Code-

Bernard (23:41):

Yeah it’s the Napoleonic laws that we have here, and it’s so brutal until … it’s just a word that they made up back in slavery, and this shit has been carrying on for so long 

 

Bernard (24:00):

… and I’m just tired of hiding and I’m excited. I’m not scared no more. And I’m ready to just let my verse hang.

David (24:08):

So you’re totally free. You don’t have any parole. 

 

Bernard (24:11):

I don’t. I came home. They still wanted me to be locked up. I came home from prison after doing almost 10 years, they wanted to, this is the game that they play. They send you home after all of those years, they put you up under this strict stipulation with these parole officers that has no goddamn heart. So the first time you scratch your ass wrong, you going back to prison. I was prepared for all of that shit. They put me on parole. I beat them at their own game. I beat them so good until they came to me and they just discharged me because they couldn’t make money off me because I wouldn’t run. I wouldn’t run. I wasn’t fucking up.

Bernard (24:50):

I wasn’t doing drugs. And them, them bastards came and told me, “Don’t you call me no more. Don’t come back.” And it was a real redneck part of Louisiana outside in Slidell. And by me not being a screw up, the typical black man that they have on a list to come through the doors with recidivism, I told them they’ll never be on that note for me again. And they got tired and they let me go. So I beat them at that. I’m totally free. I don’t have no parole. And it’s all me.

David (25:22):

Beautiful, Fred. So how did the Curaleafs get involved with, how did that whole, uh, when did you have this idea, you know, to, to create this company around Mr. Noble? Yeah-

Fred (25:35):

Yeah, so. Yeah. So what happened, David was, um, you know, made the film and then you kind of have this point when you, you’re looking at every edit, every cut as a filmmaker. But then there’s a period of time when the film just lives as its own entity. And then when you see the film, the film began to speak to me in a way, like almost haunt me, things that different people said in the film were like coming at me in a dream. Like things that killer Mike said about this is an opportunity for generational wealth.

Fred (26:12):

This is a portion of our, reimbursement, if you will. It was things that were haunting me that was said in the movie, like I need to get involved. I need to, I need to take part in the, in the reparations is, is the word I was trying to say. There were little things that I said, “Man, well, I’d love to get involved, but I’d also love to do something about what’s being done to too many people.” Like what Bernard had to go through. So me and a business partner, Ron Samuelson, who actually was a really close friend and the conversation that we had led to the ideas that became Grass Is Greener.

Fred (26:59):

When one day in a phone conversation, he said, “I’m going to start a consultancy company.” ‘Cause he had been in the system as well. So he wasn’t able to physically work touching the plant, but he knows the cannabis industry upside down, inside out. He was like, “I’m going to start a consultancy company and call it 40 acres and a Greenhouse.” which was a reference to 40 acres and a mule that black folks after reconstruction had been promised, but never got. So, that conversation sparked the ideas of Grass Is Greener. And then when I told him, I want to try to create a cannabis brand in this man’s name, he was like, “Be noble.”

Fred (27:41):

And I was like, “Wow, all right, what a perfect way to talk about Bernard.” But also with that double meaning of getting people to be noble around this issue, this cause, raising awareness about cannabis injustice, this misguided war on drugs, which was all politically and, and racially motivated. And basically we came up with some branding ideas and we developed this package with our team, some incredible guys with amazing graphic skills came to work with us. And I kept Bernard in the loop. We kept talking and keeping him filled in. Getting to know each other over the phone calls and Zooms and stuff like that.

Fred (28:31):

And then, um, Curaleaf, got a look at it back in the fall and got really excited. So we were negotiating for seven or eight months back and forth with them. And it all came together. And then I learned Curaleaf is the biggest, one of the biggest MSOs in the game. But they have a real giant heart and a commitment to want to really lean in on these really glaring issues of the inequities and these inhuman laws that have persecuted way too many people. And we’re in a place now where we see state after state New York, our home state finally, legalizing with a very progressive bill, the most progressive.

Fred (29:23):

So the timing and the things that are converging right now that we’re able to do for Bernard, his willingness to be a spokesperson, to be an example of the horrors of this. But also now to reap these benefits and to be like a living example is just, it’s just amazing to me. And so this B Noble brand, which once again is this same two joints that they put Bernard imprisoned for, in this packaging with messaging on the packaging, by the fall, it will be available in every state in the country that has recreational and medical cannabis flower for sale. And so we’re going to go to each and every one of these states, uh, talk to people, meet people, Bernard is going to tell his story.

Fred (30:11):

He’s going to be, as you can see now he’s learning more about the, about the endocannabinoid system and about all these elements of the plant. So, we’re excited and this new journey is just beginning and I’m just blown away that we get this opportunity to put a quality product on the shelves that also is messaging directly about these injustices. And we’re also hoping we can get an audience, at the White House, and show Grass Is Greener, to Joe Biden and Kamala and try to really have a conversation so that they can also get a deep understanding about what’s going on and also see and learn more about the benefits. These are confirmed medical benefits of this plant. So that’s it.

David (31:02):

Well, getting it to Biden would be an amazing, success story because you know, the White House has not been very open-minded about this even while the rest of the states are falling one by one, recognizing the value of cannabis as a plant, a wellness product.

Fred (31:21):

Yeah.

David (31:22):

And, uh, yeah. So how are you making any progress on that? Or what, what is the status of that-

Fred (31:27):

They’re putting the word out. I know that your podcast is something that, you know-

David (31:33):

Joe listens to it, man, every week I tell you.

Fred (31:38):

I know that people in the cannabis world and the people are listening to Light Culture. We’ve been talking it up and just hoping we’re going to try to get an audience with Chuck Schumer. I met with Hakeem Jeffries a couple of years ago. He’s a Brooklyn Congressman. Big hip hop fan, loves the culture. I met Kamala Harris a few years ago in San Francisco. We’d just like to have an audience and be able to dialogue with people because you know, it’s been over 80 years of lies about cannabis.

Fred (32:13):

This war on drugs, this gateway drug, this demonization of a plant that has killed no one. Alcohol, which is on people’s shelves in their homes right now, is killing people every day. But there’s laws that regulate and guide the use of alcohol. We’re looking for the same type of system to be embedded and to be in place for cannabis because it’s got medical benefits as well as just making you feel good and helping you get through life. So there’s so many benefits and so much harm being inflicted. We need to turn this around. 

David (32:52):

Have you, have you thought about approaching president Obama, to help bring it to Joe? ‘Cause you know, that was his vice president. 

Fred (33:03):

That’s a very good call David. We would like to speak to president Obama, Michelle, Sasha, Malia, they’re young women now that know, we’ve got to stop this and turn this around because there’s so much benefit in this plant. 

 

David (33:51):

I think you’ve hit on a nice idea with regard to Bernard and bringing him into the game in this fashion, because I think it’s very difficult otherwise. When you think about what has to go into the business today, it’s a big business. You can’t just open a store like a bodega you need to have a big operation. There’s lots of elements. Most people who have been imprisoned come out, they’re not really prepared to go into the game in that level. They can’t, what are they going to do? So right now, there’s laws in New York, for example, where they’re trying to make it possible for people who have been unjustly affected by going to prison to be involved in it. But what can they do? You know, how are they going to get involved?

Fred (34:43):

That’s a very good point and this is the issue we have right now. And so that’s why, it’s so great working with Bernard, as he now dives in and gets more understanding of what really is going on. And he speaks so well to it because, you know, once again, it’s just this great injustice and we can turn this around and really benefit. I think Bernard’s attitude is reflective of the attitude that many marginalized people in America remarkably have like, “Okay, I went through that. They, they, they tried to take me down, but it didn’t work. Now I’m going to turn that around on them and I’m going to teach people what’s really going on.”

Fred (35:34):

And that’s how we’ve gotten to this point. So we’ve got a lot of work to do to change people’s attitudes, their ideas. And I think once again, I tell you like Curaleaf has stepped up so major from the top down their CEO. I mean, it’s made us a firm commitment and we are legitimate partners with them. And once again,

Fred (36:00):

And along with, Bernard benefiting from the proceeds, we’re gonna donate 10% of what we make to give to organizations that are helping to get more people like Bernard free, to also help people coming from where Bernard and where I’m coming from, to basically teach them how to work in this business, how to learn, how to cultivate. All the agricultural farming skills that need to create, and produce quality cannabis flower, we wanna help people learn these things.

Fred (36:41):

So there’s an organization out of Mass that we’ve made an arrangement with, we’re gonna work with, called Mass CultivatED, that are taking people from the inner city, Roxbury, what have you, that got caught up in the system, that are gonna work. Curaleaf’s helping train them, and there’s gonna be other orgs in different cities and states that we’re gonna target and give some money to and help get their thing going as well.

Fred (37:08):

So, that’s the mission that we’re gonna be on. You know, so it’s so exciting to start this journey, and it’s cool to be talking to you, ’cause you… Uh, you know, once again, David, you were at one of the first screenings of Grass is Greener before it dropped on Netflix, I invited you. So it takes me back to that.

David (37:26):

Yeah. Well, I’m, I’m very happy also to see that this has gone around to this point where we are today. Bernard, have you been contacted by other people in similar situations reaching out to you, asking for your help, or trying to figure out what they can do or what kind of advice you have for them?

Bernard (37:45):

Oh yeah, I have. Uh, well, actually, a couple a guys, that, um, that was in prison with me. But, what I failed to say, it was a lot of people left behind, and not- uh, in an unfortunate incidence. These guys were pasts they was unfortunately from. They didn’t have the help. So they’re on the streets right now today. They can’t take it.

Bernard (38:11):

And, um, I can’t connect with anybody inside the prisons right now, so all I do is talk with some of the guys on the street that I know that’s still hustling, still getting high, and they lost their way. So I’m actually trying to counsel some of my home boys in the neighborhood, and they’re excited about what’s going on with me. So yeah, maybe, I can touch some of them only.

Bernard (38:41):

I would love to get into a transitional housing with some of my people coming at home to help them get back in the midst of this crazy world, because like I said, I was fortunate. I’m strong at will, and it worked out really well for me. And I’m just, I’m excited, Dave. I got a brand in my name.

Fred (39:00):

(Laughs).

Bernard (39:00):

So-

David (39:00):

You bet

Fred (39:00):

(Laughs).

Bernard (39:00):

Yeah. I’m ready to, uh, help the people, and it’s really exciting.

David (39:10):

Well, I’m glad. Uh, thank you both for being on the show today. I think you’re inspirational, both of you. Fred has taken his amazing energy and, and channeled it into this very productive beautiful way. Uh, very happy about all of that and to see him. Of course, he’s always had a great taste in people. (Laughs).

Fred (39:28):

(Laughs).

David (39:29):

He knows what’s what and who’s who and where the energy is, and you guys seem to make a great team, and you make me feel good and optimistic, (Laughs). You know, I can use some of that as well.

Fred (39:42):

Why, thank you.

David (39:43):

(Laughs).

Fred (39:43):

Thank you.

Bernard (39:44):

Fred always telling me that… I mean, I don’t know, Dave. I just was born like this and it’s just who I am, and Fred and everybody else always telling me that I have this gift of gab, you know, things that I never understood, never took interest in, and they say I talk so well, you know, I’m articulate.

Bernard (40:05):

I only went to the 12th grade, and I was so disruptive in class, I had to get in the slow learners class, but I learned a lot. I learned a lot from people and I’m just… Whatever it is, Fred, that they like about me, like I am- this is who I am. I’m gonna keep being myself because I can’t be nobody else.

Fred (40:26):

And you know what, Bernard? Just on top of that, like one of the foundational things in hip-hop culture is about keeping it real.

Bernard (40:33):

Yeah.

Fred (40:34):

And so, Bernard is the epitome of keeping it real. I literally met this man when he walked out of prison. I was involved in his case, wanted to see him free, but I didn’t know anything about what kind of guy he was, and he walked out and this is Bernard. This is this man that unjustly was given a 13 year sentence, hard labor for two joints of cannabis, this incredible man right here. So we wanna try to do whatever we can do to stop this, and hopefully we can turn this around, and stories like this will hopefully soon become a distant memory, and that’s what B-Noble… By the way, B-Noble.com, we’ve got a website up, and we are planning to go hard in the paint, with increasing content.

Fred (41:26):

There’s a few clips on B-Noble.com, on our website, where they can learn more, see more, and we will be coming at it hard. And we got some interesting collaborations coming up that we’re working on in the state of California, which is just to let, let people know, with Sherbinski, which is one of-

David (41:48):

Oh, okay.

Fred (41:48):

… the legendary legacy, cannabis entrepreneurs, great master cultivator that’s come up with some unique strains. He’s down with us and, and like what we’re looking to do. So we got some-

David (42:02):

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Fred (42:02):

… cool things coming up.

David (42:02):

That’s cool.

Fred (42:03):

This is just the beginning, and, uh, so good to be here with you, David, once again-

David (42:07):

Thanks. Yes.

Fred (42:08):

… and share the love.

David (42:08):

Sherbinski was also on my show as well, so that was cool.

Fred (42:11):

Oh wow, I got a-

David (42:12):

And also I understand Jason White, who was at, uh- Curaleaf at the time, was a guest on my show as well, so this is all the family.

Fred (42:20):

Forgive me for not mentioning, but once again, David, you’re all- as always, so connected. Jason is the person that wanted me to be part of a social equity board they were building, and I just sent him what we were working on for B-Noble. He hit me back the next day. He’s like, “Yo, I showed this to our CEO and he said let’s make a deal,” and that’s when the negotiations started. And interestingly, just as we were about to close the deal, Jason hit me up, “Good news and bad news. The good news is Curaleaf wants to do this deal. The bad news is I’m taking a job at MTV.”

David (43:01):

Okay.

Fred (43:02):

“I’m gonna be the chief marketing officer at MTV.”

David (43:05):

(Laughs).

Fred (43:05):

I was like… How life goes around, comes around. Like where I used to work hosting Yo MTV Raps, he’s over there now trying to help turn them around, so that’s, Jason White is a key part of this story. As well as a woman now, named Khadijah Tribble, who heads up Curaleaf’s social equity initiative, and she’s been doing amazing work, along with a great team over there under them. So it’s been… It’s been special.

David (43:34):

So also, just, uh, hearing what you just said, so it sounds like you have other ideas going forward. This is not a one-off, that there’s gonna be more products?

Fred (43:43):

No, it’s not a one-off. So the parent company that we created, which we’re calling Rebelution, B-Noble, this product is the first part of that, and we want to develop other products on other brands that have a cause connected so we can give back, and that’s what we are developing now. B-Noble is the focus right now, the first product, the first brand out the gate helping Bernard and, and too many other people. I believe there’s over 600,000 people in prison right now for non-violent cannabis offenses. That’s the number that I just-

David (44:27):

That’s crazy.

Fred (44:28):

In this American criminal justice system, which is a nightmare gone wrong, we hope to make a dent and to turn some things around.

Bernard (44:42):

It’s, it’s, it’s nothing but a bunch of slavery. So, uh, like I say, I was saying, I’m, I’m glad that I have the platform to, to be adverse. No more trickery. Uh, it’s, it’s political, and, uh, the way we see it here in Louisiana, all it is, is to intimidate people. They don’t want us to learn. It’s just like prison, what they’re doing in this world. If they let us learn about the benefits of this plant, they know the people could capitalize. So politics, wanna keep us in the dark, like they’ve been doing for thousands of years, but B-Noble is here. I got a chance to tell the people, “No more trickery. We’re coming out. We’re coming out.”

David (45:22):

Well, it’s great to meet you on the Zoom at least. I hope to meet you in-person, uh, one day with Fab

Bernard (45:28):

Yeah.

Fred (45:28):

Yep.

David (45:28):

… in New York.

Bernard (45:29):

Yeah.

David (45:29):

We could all celebrate. And thank you so much for being on my show today.

Fred (45:34):

Thanks for having us.

Bernard (45:34):

Thank you for having me. It’s stuff like this that’s just inspiring me. This is what keeps me happy, Dave.

Fred (45:40):

(Laughs).

Bernard (45:40):

I’m satisfied. I’m, I’m, I’m ready. I’m all hyped up now again.

Bernard (45:44):

So it’s, it’s no pain with-

David (45:47):

That’s good.

Bernard (45:47):

… me, man.

David (45:47):

That’s good. Give them-

David (45:48):

Give the energy and take it as well.

Bernard (45:51):

Yeah.

Fred (45:51):

Yes. (Laughs).

Bernard (45:52):

Thank you.

Fred (45:52):

Bernard’s the best interview ever. (Laughs).

David (45:54):

I know.

Fred (45:55):

Thanks so much, Dave. Man, appreciate it.

David (45:55):

Yeah, my man. Thanks.

Bernard (45:55):

Okay, Dave.

David (45:57):

Take care, guys.

Bernard (45:58):

Thank you, man.

Fred (45:58):

Okay. Thanks.

Bernard (45:58):

I’ll talk with you later, pal.

Fred (45:58):

Thanks, Bernard. Talk to you soon.

David (45:58):

Okay.

Bernard (45:58):

All… All right, homey.

 

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