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Sunday July 12, 2020

By Andrew Ward


The world faces an array of pressing public concerns, from civil rights to criminal justice reform to Veteran care to the environment and beyond. You can make it clear where you stand by letting your wallet do the talking. In 2018, it was revealed that 73% of millennial buyers are willing to spend more for sustainable products. In light of the most recent police brutality news, including the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, there has been an uptick in supporting Black-owned businesses and companies giving back to those communities and charities in need.

Cannabis consumers can support the causes they believe in by choosing where to shop. That said, sourcing the most ethical brands has been a problem for many would-be consumer advocates. A common concern many potential customers face is buying and supporting reputable, ethical brands. Here are some of the ways you can check to see if a cannabis brand aligns with your values.  

The Mission Statement

The first step is examining what the company believes is to examine its own words. A company’s mission statement should lay out what the brand stands for and what it holds dear. If a brand has a particular cause or causes it supports, there is a strong probability that it will make some mention of the issue at hand, organizations involved, or some reference in this vein.

About us sign
A company's "About Us" page can help you to better understand the values of a brand. photo credit

The mission statement is often found on a company’s online brand biography, usually on an About Us page or somewhere similar. Some brands will make the message clearer by placing it on their main page, pop-up windows, and their outreach, like its newsletter and other examples discussed below.

However, social media now serves as the best indicator for many brands. Across the major platforms, cannabis brands can get the word out by stating their own goals and amplifying voices and launching charitable efforts to give back to the causes it aligns with. If a brand isn’t speaking up, users will be quick to tag the business for clarification, providing rather instant answers in many cases.

Does the Action Support the Statement?

Unfortunately, platitudes are all too common during imperative fights. A person or brand may want to show their support, be it genuine or otherwise, but won’t do much other than say some words before moving on.

While supportive words do help to a degree, many want to see more from companies they put their money into. This want is especially true in the cannabis space, where marijuana arrest disparities continue to affect Black people and other minority communities at much higher rates than White people. Pressing global issues also extend to the environment, where environmentally-unfriendly packaging continues to shadow a growing market. In either case, consumers can determine if a company backs its words with action by doing a bit of research of their own.

Companies will put out press releases highlighting their efforts. These attempts often lead to subsequent news stories in various media outlets with additional information.

However, some companies and business leaders would instead remain low key in their philanthropic efforts. In that case, you may need to do some research on your own. Consumers have a variety of tools to track charitable donationsthat they can use to expedite their research. Be sure to rely on the news as well. Reporters and journalists often pick up on donations, whether the story was intended to reach the public or not.

Tessa Adams, Chief Marketing Officer for Moxie, told PotGuide about the power of self-research. Adams explained, “Google and self-intuition are the best tools for cannabis consumers to determine which products fall in line with their values." Adams added, "If a consumer is unsure if a company is engaged in supporting the causes they want to support, the best path forward is to contact the company directly and find out the answer."

Product Sourcing and Production

People want reliability out of their products. Many also want to ensure that they are supporting American job creation. Those concerned with one or both of the previous points should examine how the company conducts its product sourcing and labor practices. Again, a company's About and main pages should be the first indicators of how it operates. In most cases, brands will tout if they are American-made, a Green company or carry the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) seal of approval, among common seals of approval.

The production process has a big impact in determining whether a brand is reputable and ethical. photo credit

Once again, be on the lookout for brands that go beyond a statement. Some companies will elaborate on their production process to highlight those helping source the products, indicating the country of origin, the region it is produced and how the items were sourced. In some cases, companies using international items and labor will donate portions of their sales to causes in these regions.

What Does the Staff Look Like?

The call for diversity, equity and inclusion in cannabis is far from new, but remains a concern despite recentimprovements to some degree.

Cannabis is aimed at correcting some of the wrongs imposed on minorities, including Black people, women, the LGBTQ+ community and all others negatively affected. Yet, all too often, company boards and support staff can become a bit too male and a bit too white.

Those advocating for inclusion should focus on the staff and board room leading cannabis brands.

If a team doesn’t reflect its buyers, then it might be time to consider looking for a new company to do business with. Hiring statistics do become available from time to time. However, recently, the recent launch of The Accountability List aims to provide consumers with a living document of such information and more. 

The Work is Worthwhile

Don’t fret if the research seems like a tall task at first. Breaking the effort up into segments like the ones mentioned above make verifying a brand’s stances and practices rather simple and efficient. Besides, even if the work is a bit laborious, the end result will surely pay off, as you let your feelings be heard through your voice and purchases.

What sort of practices do you look for in an equitable cannabis company? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon (license)


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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