Sunday May 22, 2016
Colorado Springs cannabis social club, The Pothole, was quick to gather headlines for giving away free weed to anyone returning to the location with a bag of garbage from the city. Club owner, Steve Pacheco told Fox-21 News of his intention to show local officials that cannabis social clubs (which may be forced to shut down within the next eight years) are not dangerous to the community and that the people these social clubs bring in are good, community-oriented people, as well.
Seven other social clubs in the area offered the same deal, though few were as public about it than the Pothole had been. Nevertheless, many cannabis social clubs and dispensaries have been working hard to contribute to their communities helping debunk the notion that marijuana businesses are inherently bad.
The Walking Raven, one of Denver’s first medical marijuana dispensaries, has spent years giving back to the community by sponsoring things like the Annual AIDS walk and GREEN TEAM events, raising money through donation drives and volunteering to help cultivate produce for food banks.
The Clinic supports community involvement as well. Since 2010, the Clinic has raised almost $300,000 for the National MS Society and actively supports the annual Colorado Pride Fest. Good Chemistry also contributes to the community by sponsoring events and raising money through donation drives. These are only a few examples of cannabis business philanthropy.
But donating to the community isn’t as easy as simply handing over some cash or donated goods; many non-profit organizations are reluctant to accept donations from cannabis businesses due to potential conflicts surrounding the federally-illegal status of marijuana.
Many non-profits get much of their funding from the federal government. Because cannabis businesses are still federally illegal, accepting marijuana donations could put the bulk of their funding in jeopardy. It is because of this that so many businesses either decline the charity or keep quiet about its source.
One organization, Team Fort Collins, publicly accepts donations from marijuana businesses but with the extra precaution of marking all items purchased with the funds with a special sticker. The intent is to keep all marijuana donations separate from others in case the federal government pulls the rug out from under the industry.
In time, organizations may become more willing to accept marijuana-funded donations but the process is slow-going. Meanwhile, many breweries are very public about their charitable donations – and it seems to be paying off. According to an article published in Craft Brewing Business, customers are especially likely to purchase a product from a charitable company, and they’ll pay premium prices to do it. This is especially true among millennials who are more likely to purchase both beer and cannabis, but only the brewers receive anything in return (including both recognition and a tax break for charitable donations).
Despite all of this, cannabis businesses continue to give back to the community.
And they should – all of them -- considering the huge impact these businesses (and the industry itself) has had on local communities by driving up the cost of real estate in Denver.
The high cost of rent in the city has made it unfortunately difficult for some groups to maintain their presence in the area. Specifically, artist studios and non-profit organizations like homeless shelters are finding it difficult to afford space in the inner city further supporting the need for cannabis businesses to help them out. They can do this selling local art, hosting charitable events and donating to local non-profit organizations – or by giving away free weed to anyone willing to help clean up the city.
Contrary to what some have speculated, marijuana legalization did not create a zombie apocalypse. It did, however, highlight the need for cannabis businesses philanthropy. If we want to prove that the industry can be beneficial to all, it is important to support cannabis businesses who give back to their communities, and to let them know how much we appreciate them for doing so.