Because of the tenuous nature of the cannabis business, many charities don’t want to receive any contributions from those companies. Companies that have tried to go through regular channels of charity have been shut down, thanks to federal criminalization. Organa Brands told Forbes that the message they were being sent on multiple levels was that “drug money” was not a desirable donation source for nonprofit organizations. While there are no legal ramifications that have backfired from accepting such a donation, charity organization are far more concerned with the stigma still prevalent around marijuana. Organizations that might seem like a good fit for cannabis endorsement, like Wounded Warriors or the American Cancer Society, care far deeper about looking like they’re taking a paid-for-by-drugs handout. Such a notion is ridiculous, especially as cannabis gains legality state by state, but if official nonprofits aren’t ready to accept money from such a community, there are other ways cannabis can give back.
Put your favorite cannabis company in contact with nonprofits that will accept their funding, or suggest they open their own! While limited, there are bodies working to make sure cannabis is societally beneficial. KindColorado is a company that connects cannabis companies with local nonprofits, and more states could use that kind of service. Grow For Vets is an example of a direct charity that helps veterans get medical marijuana. After experiencing the limitations of the charity industry, Organa partnered with the foundation, Growing Hope to distribute funds raised to the cannabis-hosting communities in need. With a little digging, the right avenue for cannabis to give back can be found or paved on its own.
Personally, I love grassroots campaigns that focus on cultivating a strong sense of local pride and togetherness. Cannabis businesses can maintain parks and keep trash from flooding their streets. Being knowledgeable in agriculture gives a big leg up on creating community gardens. Providing funds to create housing for the homeless, or even hire individuals who have struggled to find work. For some communities, cannabis has more than a moral obligation to give back, it is a requirement for the terms of their operation. Oakland, California and Thornton, Colorado have taken measures to ensure their local cannabusinesses are bettering the area, not decreasing its value. Having employees participate in local projects, like Bloom Farms’ initiative to assist Northern California food banks, is an easy way to demonstrate community value. Other companies have sought to improve circumstances that deeply affected owners, like Good Chemistry Nurseries’ donations of medical cannabis to AIDs patients and LGBTQ advocacy groups, in addition to donating toward Denver Rescue Mission for homelessness, and Ray of Hope Cancer Foundation. Even if foundations will not publicly accept cannabis companies as donors, owners can privately contribute to projects, such as the construction of the Ruby Hill Park amphitheater in Denver from Colorado Harvest Companies’ CEO Tim Cullen.
With a touch of creativity and any desire to help out, the cannabis industry is in an important position to use its products and power to make the world even just a little bit better. Think about supporting one of these brands when doing your holiday shopping this year, and you too can feel good about your consumership!