As cannabis legalization has grown to create a booming economic contribution, more and more ganjapreneurs and cannabis organizations are seeking ways to give back to their communities through philanthropic endeavors. While, this isn’t always easy due to many non-profits hesitancy to accept funds from marijuana-related donors due to potential federal repercussions or antiquated stereotypes associated with cannabis, there are a host of ways the cannabis community has found to contribute to the greater good.

These efforts are particularly altruistic amongst cannabis businesses too. According to the IRS, marijuana business can’t write off donations on their taxes and many recipients aren’t comfortable listing cannabis-based donors in marketing materials and press releases. When you remove the potential monetary and publicity benefits, it becomes apparent that these philanthropic endeavors are truly coming from the heart, not the influence of corporate greed.

Philanthropy and Cannabis

A great example of overcoming the hurdles of philanthropy in the industry is the Colorado Harvest Company and O.pen Vape, who together donated over $250,000.00 to the construction of Levitt Pavilion, philanthropy Levitt Pavilion, an amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park in Denver, CO. Tim Cullen, CEO of Colorado Harvest and shareholder in O.pen Vape, is quoted as saying he has “been shocked at how few places will take our money.” Even the generous contribution to Ruby Hill Park had to go through several steps of gaining approval by both the city and the non-profit board in order to be accepted for the project!

In Phoenix, AZ, Bloom Dispensaries has built a reputation for their philanthropic endeavors with Bloom Gives Back.  Bloom has partnered with Phoenix Rescue Mission to provide over 1,300 meals during the holiday season and with St. Vincent de Paul’s Dream Center to fund efforts to feed and tutor local children. Bloom Gives Back contributes to a wide variety of causes from Adopt-A-Street and canned food drives to Naturopaths Without Borders.  Their philanthropy has touched the lives of the local community as well as the global community at large.

Garden of Eden dispensaries of Alameda County, California, has donated over $200,000 to Meals on Wheels and other local charities and Clinic Colorado is a long time donor to the MS Society, raising nearly $291,000.00 since 2009. The Herbal Wellness Center of Phoenix, AZ sponsors 5-6 families at Thanksgiving by providing entire family meals and again at Christmas by fulfilling their entire Christmas lists down to the actual trees.Philanthropy, christmas tree

Philanthropy apparently extends beyond for-profit businesses as well.

In Colorado, Pueblo County has created the world’s first cannabis-funded scholarship!

The fund is expected to provide nearly $475,000 in scholarships for high school seniors from Pueblo County who will be attending either Pueblo County Community College or Colorado State University in the fall. The county is expected to be able to provide a $1,000.00 scholarship to every single qualified applicant!

Marijuana is Medicine

The philanthropic spirit is making huge strides in providing and researching medical marijuana as well. Weed for Good provides free medical cannabis and education to low income patients who suffer from chronic and terminal illnesses in California and Colorado. Founded in January 2014, Grow For Vets is an organization dedicated to providing free medical cannabis to veterans suffering from medical conditions and preventing the more than 50 veteran suicides that occur on a daily basis. To date, they have supplied 30,371 veterans with $1,00,285.00 worth of cannabis!  Cannabis for the Cure works hand in hand with patients and researchers to find a cure for cancer. They work to continue research that has shown medical marijuana to be effective in combatting and possibly curing cancer.

California’s Berkeley Patients Group, the longest continuously operating dispensary in California, was founded on giving free medicine and ancillary wellness services to low-income patients. BPG hasn’t limited their philanthropic efforts to cannabis though.

BPG funds the Women’s Cancer Resources Center and even out-raised Google in San Francisco’s annual AIDS Walk in 2015!

BPG also contributes to the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, Center for Early Intervention on Deafness, Berkeley Ballet Theater, Lighthouse Charter School Robotics Team, the Brown Boi Project, Toys for Tots, Philanthropy, toys for totsStudents for Sensible Drug Policy, Drug Policy Alliance, Alameda County Community Food Bank, To Celebrate Life- Breast Cancer Foundation, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, Transgender Law Center, Berkeley Waterside Workshop, and Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, just to name a few!

Get Started Today

The cannabis industry has so much to give back and the DoingGood.FOUNDATION is helping to make these efforts easier for ganjapreneurs and cannabis organizations. They are organizing a nationwide campaign

Starting April 20, 2017 that is focused on educating the public about the cannabis industry and local communities!

They are even holding a special ESSN session on March 8th that will focus on the benefits and challenges of accepting donations from the cannabis industry.All of the funds raised during the nationwide campaign will go to fund small non-profits in the state where each donation originates.

At the end of the day, giving back may not be the easiest endeavor the cannabis industry undertakes, but it is one the industry is dedicated to. As Ean Seeb, co-owner of Denver Relief dispensary, said, “It’s not all about making money and about profiting.” With the legalization movement’s roots in medical marijuana and compassionate use, the spirit of compassion and benevolence is at the heart of the burgeoning legal marijuana industry. This really shines through in the efforts of each of these organizations’ philanthropic efforts.

Amber Faust

About the author: Amber Faust is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in natural lifestyle pieces and sociopolitical commentary. Amber is a lifelong activist for social justice and environmental issues. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, drumming, meditation, and yoga.