CHICAGO, Feb. 11, 2022 – PRESS RELEASE – Cresco Labs, a vertically integrated multistate operator and the No. 1 U.S. wholesaler of branded cannabis products, announced the Clio Award-winning documentary short film, “The Sentence of Michael Thompson,” will have its world premiere on March 9 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) and screen March 13-17 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival. 

“The Sentence of Michael Thompson” is the first documentary short film on the topic of social justice, criminal justice reform and cannabis decriminalization, and the first social justice-focused documentary produced by a cannabis brand (Cresco), to debut at both acclaimed global and U.S. film festivals held in Santa Barbara, Calif. and Austin, Texas, respectively.

“It is humbling and an honor to have the opportunity to help share Michael Thompson’s story through such prestigious film festivals like SBIFF and SXSW,” said Chima Enyia, executive vice president of SEED, Cresco Labs’ Social Equity, Education, Development initiative.

“Unfortunately, one of the themes central to Michael’s story is not unique; several hundred thousand Americans—predominantly Black and Latinx—continue to be arrested on marijuana-related charges every year,” he said. “Over 40,000 people suffer in prison because of cannabis-related convictions at this very moment. Through this film, we hope to help audiences truly understand the gravity of injustice on the lives of people adversely impacted by the war on drugs and advance the dialogue surrounding racial and social justice to help change our nation’s drug laws.”

The subject of the film, Michael Thompson, is the longest serving non-violent offender in Michigan history. In 1994, he was arrested for selling three pounds of cannabis to a close friend turned police informant. He was sentenced to 42 to 60 years and remained in prison after Michigan legalized the adult use and sale of cannabis.

“The Sentence of Michael Thompson” follows Michael’s daughter, Rashawnda, and his lawyer, Kim, during the fight for clemency. It examines the harm the war on drugs has caused on marginalized communities and explores paths forward as national cannabis legalization gets closer to becoming a reality.

The filmmaking team includes Kyle Thrash, Haley Elizabeth Anderson, Ian Ross, Logan Triplett and Matt Schaff, whose work have all been shown at SXSW, Sundance, Tribeca and other notable national and international film festivals. Released on Juneteenth 2021, the film’s trailer earned the Silver Clio Cannabis Award for Film & Video creative excellence.

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Over the past 35 years, SBIFF, a nonprofit arts and educational organization, has become one of the leading film festivals in the U.S. The film festival takes place March 2-12, 2022. For more information, visit

Now in its 29th year, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. The film festival runs March 11-19, 2022. For more information about the SXSW Film Festival, visit

To watch “The Sentence of Michael Thompson” trailer and learn more about Cresco’s year-round restorative justice efforts, visit For more information about Cresco Labs’ social equity, social justice, education and workforce development initiative, SEED, visit

Film Stills and Trailer File can be found HERE.