Cannabis Contributes to Communities, Despite Limitations

Nonprofits must consider members, other contributors, and federal guidelines when accepting donations, often leaving cannabis companies out in the cold

Cannabis charity mgretailer
Cannabis charity mgretailer

Cannabis professionals from every industry category have proved that they are a big-hearted bunch, often sharing their good fortune with local communities and people-in-need.

But these contributions are harder to make than one might imagine–primarily because nonprofit organizations must follow federal guidelines that prohibit donations with potentially illegal sources; cannabis, despite state legalization, is still prohibited on a federal level. This is also the reason that cannabis industry contributors cannot deduct donations they make from their federal taxes, no matter how good their intentions. Organizations often must also take the approval of conservative members and other major contributors into consideration.


San Diego, California-based CBD product producer KB Pure Essentials found this to be true recently, when attempting to donate school supplies to local city schools. Contributions were denied until finally, co-owner Brooke Brun reported to, she was forced to donate the supplies anonymously.

This, despite the fact that hemp-derived CBD products are non-psychoactive; hemp is still a federally prohibited substance.

“I think it’s sad because it’s things that are fun to share as a brand. Like sharing your culture of your team on social media and just… being able to advertise the fact that we can be in an industry where we can give back,” Brun told the publication, adding that the company still donates but does not attach their name to contribution for fear of being refused.

So, obstacles won’t stop the flow of goodwill, especially at this time of year and all the year-round. With need for social and environmental resources increasing, driven by unprecedented environmental and political events, some charities have welcomed the support, while some cannabis companies have started their own foundations and developed creative ways to give back.

ZOMA_mgretailerA holiday campaign from Zoma Cannabis and global forestry nonprofit One Tree Planted, is an effort to aid recovery efforts for the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires. Boughs of “Mistletoke,” described as a swag of mistletoe trimmed with “perfectly trimmed buds of Zoma Enviroganic cannabis,” will be given to consumers the company hopes will then donate.

The limited edition boughs are available to the first 50 Los Angeles residents that email [email protected], free of charge; upon delivery, the recipient will have the opportunity to donate to wildfire relief efforts, with each dollar to be matched by Zoma. One dollar plants a new tree in areas deforested by the fires.

The_SourceNV_mgretailerThe+Source Dispensaries, located in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada, will celebrate its “12 Days of December” fundraiser to benefit the Three Squares Food Bank, southern Nevada’s only food bank and a charity that has benefited from The+Source previously. Dispensary customers can choose from daily specials, November 21 to January 1, 2019; for every discounted special item purchased, The+Source will donate three meals to the food bank.

Emerald_Cop_logo_mgretailerAt the end of November, cannabis culture and awards event The Emerald Cup announced the launch of Emerald Cup Charities, its philanthropic arm. The 15th annual Emerald Cup event, scheduled for Dec 15-16 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, in Santa Rosa, California. A percentage of proceeds will go to this year’s inaugural charity, legal advocacy organization Freedom Grow.

“An all-volunteer organization seeking to make a difference in the lives of non-violent people who have been imprisoned due to unjust cannabis-related laws—guarantees that 100 percent of the dollars donated to its organization will go directly to the prisoners of nonviolent, cannabis-related crimes,” said a statement from show organizers.

Dr_Bronners_mgretailerProducing hemp oil-infused soap since the ‘60s, legacy health and wellness brand Dr. Bronner has partnered with agricultural producer Organic Valley, the Grassroots Alliance, and Grassroots Aid Partnership, to support victims of the historic Camp wildfire, with deliveries of food, distributed through a network of Northern California food banks and pantries. The Camp Fire destroyed nearly 14,000 homes, in addition to other structures, and covered 153,336 acres, wiping out the town of Paradise, California.

“Dr. Bronner’s is answering the call to action, by providing soap and basic toiletries to those who have lost their homes and been displaced by the Camp Fire,” said David Bronner, Cosmic Engagement Officer (CEO) of Dr. Bronner’s, in a joint press release.

“We stand in solidarity with our fellow Californians, as we join our community to support and take care of one another during this crisis. As natural disasters of all kinds become more frequent with advancing climate change, we will continue to support Grassroots Aid Partnership for on the ground relief efforts, and work towards nurturing more responsible, regenerative organic farming models that at global scale can sequester atmospheric carbon in soil and mitigate the worst effects of climate change, along with decarbonizing our economy,” he added, stressing commitment to addressing the issues of climate change and environmentally-conscious farming alternatives.

kush-queen-relax-cbd-bath-bombAt Kush Queen, a Los Angeles-based CBD-infused spa and cosmeceutical line, they launched a fundraiser for friends at Malibu’s 99 High Tide Collective and its founder and cannabis activist Yvonne DeLaRosa Green, who were affected by the Woolsey wildfire that burned 96,949 acres of land in Southern California. DeLaRosa lost her house in the fire, which destroyed more than 1,600 structures. Kush Queen will donate 20 percent of all sales of their Relax CBD Bath Bomb directly to DeLaRosa, to aid with recovery.

When you talk about the industry’s big philanthropists (and there are several), BigMike is a name that comes up again and again. Founder of cultivators supply product company Advanced Nutrients, Mike “BigMike” Straumietis and his team support Straumietis’ own international charity foundation, Holiday Heroes. Since 2012, the charity has donated thousands of backpacks filled with essential supplies including toothbrushes, deodorant, body wash, blankets, first-aid kits, and hand-squeeze flashlights to individuals and families in need.

This year, Holiday Heroes 6th Annual Brigade brought cannabis industry volunteers together with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to pay a visit to L.A.’s Skid Row and distribute 1,500 backpacks to homeless vets and others in need. The Brigade also delivered supplies to “the Downtown Women’s Center, Homeboy Industries, United Rescue Mission, United Rescue Mission Hope Gardens, and the homeless population of L.A.’s Skid Row.”

But it’s cannabis businesses–big and small, global and local–providing support and relief to their communities, however they can.

The team at cannabis extract company H-F Raw, in Eureka, California, recently received attention on local KIEM-TV for their Thanksgiving holiday charity event. The company spent a day handing out toiletries, socks, and warm food from a booth they set up on the street.

“I think some of us all started off a little bit poor in the community so giving back socks and food is a great thing for us. Last year we raised 165 pairs of shoes and socks and gave them out to the local Salvation Army here,” H-F Raw President David Vogelsang told the news site. “We plan on doing the same thing this year it’s going to be a lot better, it’s going to bring a lot more people into it this year. As the cannabis community is getting recognized. We are here and we’re not going anywhere.”