State and local governments in legal states such as Colorado are happy to collect the millions of tax dollars that come from the thriving marijuana industry. By all economic analysis and account, this should only continue to increase. As with any other industry, many successful businesses want to give back to their communities in order to help improve the quality of life for everyone. Whether it’s large donations to schools and hospitals, or contributions to small town Chambers of Commerce, giving to charity feels good and is an important business expense.
Unfortunately, giving to charity is proving to be difficult for companies operating within the still emerging – yet flourishing – legal cannabis industry. As reported by Forbes, many charities are not willing to accept donations from legal cannabis companies. In some cases, the charity will accept the contribution, provided it remains a secret.
According to the report from Forbes, Denver-based Organa had potential donations to the Wounded Warriors, the American Cancer Society and the Children’s Hospital Foundation almost all completely rebuffed. According to Organa’s president Chris Driessen, the charities would accept the contributions, as long as everyone at the cannabis company kept it a secret – essentially making the donations anonymously. Drissen wasn’t having that.
“The optics were more important than helping the people,” Drieseen told Forbes. “Because the message was essentially, ‘you’re a drug dealer.’”
Thankfully, other charities have exhibited better behavior when it comes to accepting contributions from cannabis companies.
For instance, the San Francisco AIDS Walk has accepted major donations from Bay Area legal weed businesses. In Denver, the local Rescue Mission, which provides services to the homeless, accepted the donations from Organa that the children’s hospital and others turned down. A local veterans organization also accepted Organa’s donations.
In some cases, though, some prohibitionist-minded charities and organizations would rather not have the money than take it from the hands of cannabis businesses. In Calaveras County, California, the local Cannabis Alliance attempted to donate money to the local school. The local city council rejected the contribution from the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance, despite the area’s slow economy and poor budgeting.
While this reluctance to accept donations from cannabis businesses is disheartening, it’s only a matter of time before they realize the industry is here to stay. Unfortunately, for some people accepting the fact that legal cannabis is a legit industry will be a longer process than others.