White Boy Rick Is Out Of Prison, Entering Michigan Cannabis Industry: What You Need To Know

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At the age of 17, Rick Wershe Jr. was sentenced to prison for cocaine possession after having been used by the FBI as an informant since he was a boy of 14. (As originally seen on Benzinga by Maureen Meehan)

Known as White Boy Rick, Wershe, now 52, was released in July 2020 for good behavior after serving 33 years in federal prison under Michigan's 650-Lifer Law. Exactly a year later, he sued the FBI and Detroit Police for $100 million for having recruited him at such a young and impressionable age. 

And now he’s getting into the cannabis industry. His home state of Michigan is just the place to be. 

The "8th"

Wershe will call his company “The 8th,” a double entendre, he told Detroit Metro Times.

The name refers to a standard measurement for cannabis, but also to the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution that prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment,” which Wershe apparently feels that he and many other drug prisoners were and still are subjected to.

“I had run into people in prison that were doing life sentences for marijuana, and now it’s legal,” Wershe said. “So doesn’t that tell you how crazy our drug laws are?”

Wershe is an outspoken advocate for prisoners affected by the injustices of the war on drugs, which he calls “the biggest sham that has ever existed in America.”

To help set up The 8th, Wershe will partner with the Michigan-based Pleasantrees Cannabis Company, which he chose because the company’s social equity plans were in line with his own, though other companies approached him.

“One of the things that sold me about Pleasantrees was their criminal justice reform that they were already working on,” Wershe said. “So when they started talking to me, it was kind of like a hand fitting the glove perfectly.”

Jerome Crawford, the director of legal operations and social equity at Pleasantrees, agreed.

“For better or worse, Rick has become the poster child for what it means to be over-criminalized and prosecuted for drugs,” Crawford said. “The war on drugs is really a war on people in impoverished communities, especially Black and brown communities.”

A High Profile Prisoner Now In The Movie Industry

As one of the most well-known cases in the drug war and with attitudes having changed drastically, Hollywood scouts are circling. White Boy Rick will be played by Eminem in an upcoming Starz series, which follows a 2018 biopic that starred Matthew McConaughey.

Better Yet, Wershe’s Own Film

Wershe is working on his own documentary, too — about himself. 

“It’s tentatively titled 'The Long Road Home.' It’s going to be my version of going through everything that I went through, and the long road it was to get my freedom back. And, you know, I’m still standing, and I’m in society, and I’m thriving, and I’m a positive productive member, after 33 years growing up in a cage,” Wershe said.

“I want to make sure that it never happens to anybody else. I can’t get the time that they took from me. I can’t go back and see my dad or my children grow up. I don’t get any of that back, there’s no do-over. To me, the way to do it is I have a platform, and I stand on that platform, and I do all that I can for those people. I call them the ‘Forgotten Ones,’ the people that are forgotten about.”

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