A look at How Cannabis Companies Give Back to the Community
Legal cannabis sweeping the city, state, and country is not new news, by any means. But now that walking to the corner store to buy some joints and edibles is as routine as picking up dinner, we can sit back and really see how cannabis is impacting our community.
Clearly, there are pros and cons to cannabis being legal. Arrest rates are down and people feel safer buying cannabis, but rent prices are expensive and people of color still aren’t fairly represented in the industry. None of these are problems we can fix overnight, but one way cannabis companies can help combat any negative effects is by giving money back.
Companies in Denver positively impact the cannabis community, the queer community, and beyond. Giving to charity is a part of being a successful business, and many cannabis companies take it above and beyond. We talked to a few about the good work they are doing and how they make a difference.
The beloved Colorado cannabis brand is a pioneer when it comes to giving back, especially to the LGBTQ community. CEO Matthew Huron watched his father and his father’s partner suffer the effects of HIV and vowed to do everything he could to fight back against the virus.
“Good Chemistry dedicates substantial financial and human resources to a wide range of organizations that help achieve the company’s overall goal of ‘Making Life Better’ for those in need,” he explained. “Some of the groups Good Chemistry has supported in recent years include One Colorado, Colorado AIDS project, The Gathering Place, local veterans’ support groups, Denver Rescue Mission, and The Burns Center on Poverty and Homelessness.
“My father was a cab driver, but even on a limited budget, he would donate time and money to community support groups,” he added. “He instilled in me the value and responsibility of making life better for those in need, and today that remains a pillar of Good Chemistry’s mission.”
High Level Health
This local company goes above and beyond to create both a safe space for folks of all walks of life to shop and a good company that gives back to the environment. They even choose to give back to environmental charities that do a lot of good behind the scenes.
“High Level Health has been working with the non-profit group Rocky Flats Downwinders,” explained Chaz K, head grower for High Level Health. “This group is working to raise awareness about the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant located near Arvada and the health problems reported by residents. In a project spearheaded by one of our senior growers, Tiffany, our grows have developed a high-testing, 1:1 THC:CBD strain called ‘Rocky Flats,’ which is a proprietary cross between C4 and Mimosa. The strain was created in an effort to bring awareness and relief to a group of people who have a true need for medicinal cannabis.”
The company also works with the Veterans Association of Colorado and allows for their strains to be tested as a treatment for PTSD.
Kaya Cannabis holds itself to the highest standards and prides itself on upholding ethical and compassionate practices that are above expectations. They are home to a fascinatingly diverse group of employees, because at their core, they are sure to seek out the most qualified for internal positions, regardless of status or personal background.
Open to feedback and adjusting, Kaya ensures a safe environment for their employees and customers alike. When it comes to environmental practices, they are constantly monitoring industry standards and changing necessary business practices regularly to uphold quality, safety, and efficacy regulations. Since they grow their own flower, they watch for pesticides and nutrients that are within state regulations and apply air filtration systems in their cultivations to avoid air pollution.
They use as much of the plant as possible to avoid waste and are currently researching new and improved forms of packaging to find the most environmentally friendly materials. Kaya makes a concerted effort to partner with local causes that they are able to work with. Setting aside time and financial aid, the staff is passionate about working with causes that impact Denver residents, specifically homelessness, food insecurity, community renewal, and animal shelters.
Lightshade see themselves as more than an inclusive company, but one that is a true partner to the community. Working with local organizations such as Gathering Place, a Denver nonprofit that works with women, children, and transgender individuals, they also internalize a culture of giving by providing meal services and career counseling for those interested in a future in the cannabis industry.
Ultimately, for Lightshade, it’s about creating a family-oriented work environment that is a safe space for all their staff members who embody diversity in race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. They have also established a Corporate Social Responsibility program, which includes relationships with 10 nonprofit organizations throughout the metro area. Through food, clothing, and dollar donations, as well as employee volunteering time, they are helping to improve food access and support services to those experiencing extreme poverty or homelessness.
In addition to giving back to the community, Lightshade is committed to sustainability and reducing the company’s carbon footprint. A new greenhouse cultivation facility was completed this month featuring systems specifically designed to cut our energy consumption in half, reduce water and nutrient use by more than 50 percent, and significantly decrease waste. Lightshade also limits plastic use by partnering with Green for Green, which collects, cleans, and reuses typically high-waste dram containers. They will also switch their packaging to Mylar bags, which will reduce their use of plastic by 85 percent.
Shift puts their cannabis philanthropy in an interesting place: the world of sports. Their nonprofit foundation, Safe Roots, has dedicated time and resources to a coach curriculum training program. The program is just in its pilot stages now, but the goal is to create something in time for this fall that will help with giving coaches the tools they need to succeed.
“Safe Roots Foundation is thrilled to be working with Shift to combat harmful teenage substance use in one of the most powerful and underutilized venues in the United States: the sports field,” said Kirk Friedrich, executive director of the Safe Roots Foundation.
The Flower Collective
The Flower Collective (TFC) may be a small company, but they sure are mighty. Nestled in the basin of the Rocky Mountains, this Nederland cannabis growing and producing company is dedicated to crafting naturally potent products while harvesting an inclusive space in their small mountain town. As one of their core values, inclusivity is reflected in their hiring practices as well as their culture, one in which people from all walks of life can feel comfortable, happy, and productive.
Putting this value into action, TFC supports policies that facilitate the early release of inmates convicted of nonviolent cannabis crimes as well as programs that scrub those crimes clean from public record. The fact that cannabis-related convictions disproportionately affect people of color makes this issue especially high-priority to TFC and pushes them even more to create a business that is inclusive and supporting of marginalized communities.
Additionally, TFC is focused on sustainably grown cannabis that is locally sourced using soil and nutrients from businesses located within Nederland. They recapture water in an effort to reduce impact and use recycled material for all their packaging. Though they admit that the state’s strict packaging regulations and indoor growing limitations mean they generate more waste than they would like, this is something they have committed to improving as TFC continues to grow and the cannabis industry evolves.
Terrapin Care Station
Terrapin Care Station comes from Boulder, and they make it a point to support the queer community in their home town.
“Out Boulder County is proud of our ongoing relationship with the people of Terrapin Care Station,” said Mardi Moore, who runs the queer organization Out Boulder. “They walk the talk when it comes to enacting corporate responsibility. Their inclusive hiring and training practices coupled with their philanthropic giving is a model. The funding given to OBC makes Boulder County a better place to live and work.”
In addition to their work with Out Boulder, Terrapin also gives money to the Reentry Initiative, a program that helps women in prison rehabilitate to society and serves many queer women.