In 2015, Lionel Tate was one of the 141,880 Black Americans arrested for marijuana possession. Facing a felony conviction, homelessness, and crippling debt, he strives to rebuild his life with his family, but all black Americans remain at risk of unequal criminalization from marijuana laws in our country. Meanwhile, legal cannabis is sold medicinally and recreationally across the country and has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry.
The documentary, which runs for fifteen minutes and is produced by From The Earth, a minority-founded and operated cannabis retailer, tells the story of Lionel Tate, a young black man who was arrested in 2015 in Los Angeles for possessing a small amount of marijuana. An aspiring chef, Tate, then 23, was on his way to give a security deposit to a property manager to lease an apartment when a police officer pulled him over and found the money in addition to the marijuana. Using first-person narration from Tate, as well as interviews with key figures in his life, such as his mother and criminal defense attorney, “Not Just Another Day” relates what happened in the aftermath of the arrest.
Though Tate’s case does not have a dire ending—he received three years of probation rather than face a five-year prison sentence— the viewer is starkly reminded that he “was one of 142,000 black Americans arrested that year for marijuana possession. Of those incarcerated, 70% will go back to jail.”
Not Just Another Day is officially selected to play at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival and Oregon Documentary Film Festival in 2021. The film was written up in this Forbes Article and includes an in depth interview of the creators. The article covers the inspiration for making the film, the profound message of the story and an expose on the two sides of legal cannabis.