Philanthropy Blooms Nationwide in the Cannabis Industry

Feb 16, 2018

Cannabis companies across the country are doing much more 'good' than just providing a product or service or even spurring economic activity. Many are embarking on their own campaigns of philanthropic giving, hoping to aid the neediest in their communities. In a recent post, GreenState reported on some fantastic charities in California, shedding light on what cannabis companies are doing for good in that particular state.

Bloom Farms, a Oakland-based cannabis manufacturer, recently announced it has donated 1 million meals to needy Californians since 2015.

The company donates a meal to a nearby food bank for every single product sale it makes in its dispensaries.

“We’re fortunate to be in California and in a community where the cannabis industry is thriving and fortunate that they are initiating these philanthropic efforts from the beginning,” [David] Goodman [Bloom Farms' Cheif Financial Officer] said, “because so many companies big and small think it’s something they’ll do later on when they have more money. That it’s built into their DNA is really admirable.”

As GreenState points out, the medical marijuana movement is rooted in charity.

Medical marijuana began with freebies. Individuals like Mary Jane “Brownie Mary” Rathbun and Dennis Peron became cause celebres for the civil disobedience of giving cannabis away to terminally ill AIDS patients in San Francisco in the 1990s.

Their efforts led directly to voter-approved Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which granted a medical defense in court to patients and caregivers. Senate Bill 420, which followed, provided for the formation of collectives that grow and dispense cannabis, laying the legal groundwork for modern dispensaries. Since then, non-profits like SweetLeaf have handed out free cannabis to terminally ill patients in recent decades. That't’s because oftentimes the people that need cannabis the most — the terminally ill — are among the least likely to be able to afford it.

In 2014, Berkeley became the first city to mandate “compassion programs,”requiring dispensaries to provide free cannabis for very low income residents with medical needs.

That's just the beginning though. Harborside Dispensary, also in Oakland, California, has given $500,000 to community groups since its inception in 2006. In San Francisco, the Apothocarium has given $350,000 to various causes. Both are mentioned in the GreenState piece. Beyond California, there's Weed for Good, a company that provides medical marijuana to low-income patients in need. And in Denver, The Hemp Connoisseur hosts the annual Cannabis Charity Open golf tournament. It seems the young cannabis industry is intent on integrating philanthropy into its DNA at the very beginning.

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