#End420Shame: Cannabis Philanthropy

There are few communities more openhearted and giving than the cannabis community. That’s right, countless dispensaries, growers and cannabis clubs are known for their focus on helping others.

Whether it’s providing free marijuana to those in need or donating thousands of dollars to worthwhile causes, cannabis businesses have a huge impact on the lives of those around them. And there’s no better time to talk about cannabis giving than during the holiday season.

To get an inside look at the cannabis community during the holidays, I spoke with Scott Pierce, General Manager at the Herbal Wellness Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Inside Herbal Wellness Center’s Philanthropy

The Herbal Wellness Center in Phoenix is a shining example of cannabis philanthropy. Throughout the year they find ways to give back to the community, and they increase their efforts during the holidays to get into the spirit of the season.

“Giving back to the community is something we do with great joy and lots of enthusiasm here at Herbal Wellness Center,” Pierce expressed. “We generally start ramping up our fundraising efforts in October, beginning with a food drive for local food pantries and shelters. Then, in November, we seek out six families that need a little help on Thanksgiving Day and provide dinner for them with all the fixins’. That’s been one of our favorite things to do each year.”

“Finally, in December, we receive letters from all kinds of people telling us about the amazing families in their lives that need a little help, and we try to pick a few to grant some wishes for,” Scott added. “In our first year, we bought a family a car! Last year, we chose five families and showed up at their door with everything on their wish lists—we even brought Christmas trees. Spreading love around the holidays is a great way to bring joy to others, and we are planning something HUGE this holiday season!”

“It’s important to remember that cannabis came with a culture attached to it, which means we have a responsibility to our community to do the right thing and make a difference.”

-Scott Pierce

And the holidays aren’t the only time that the Herbal Wellness Center focuses on giving back. In fact, they constantly strive to, “Put the ‘unity’ back in community,” meaning they always seek out ways to help others. Many times they give back in small ways by offering a smile, a word of encouragement, sound advice or a sample product. Other times their efforts are bigger, but the key is that they always look for ways to make a difference.

As for why the Herbal Wellness Center focuses on giving? It’s the reason they exist: to serve their community. “We are here to provide patients with the safest products available, and the education they need to accomplish their goals and achieve good health and a balanced life through the use of cannabis,” Pierce shared. “Also, it’s important to remember that cannabis came with a culture attached to it, which means we have a responsibility to our community to do the right thing and make a difference.”

Cannabis Charities

And if you thought that the Herbal Wellness Center was one in a million, you’re in for a surprise. They’re just a drop in the ocean of charitable cannabis organizations:

Colorado’s Pueblo County uses funds from the sale of legal cannabis to fund scholarships. In fact, they’ve funded $1,000 scholarships for 25 students as part of the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation.

As for Bloom Dispensaries, they’ve provided 1,300 meals to Phoenix families during the holiday season, raised $1,200 for St. Vincent de Paul’s Dream Center programs—helping children read, write and dream big—and donated over $2,400 to the Professional Firefighters Association of Arizona.

This June, over 22 cannabis businesses came together to host the Cannabis Charity Open. The golf tournament welcomed over 80 participants and raised thousands of dollars for the Denver Colorado AIDS Project.

And the cannabis community isn’t only charitable here in the United States. In Britain, cannabis smokers have raised thousands of pounds for charities focusing on illnesses that are relevant to marijuana, such as cancer and multiple sclerosis. And New Zealand recently launched their first medical cannabis charity: Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ). The charity will raise funds and advocate for access to medical cannabis products. So, how can you get involved?

Donating to Cannabis Organizations

First, talk to your local dispensary to find out what they’re doing to give back to the community over the holidays and ask how you can help. If you want to take it one step further and give back to the cannabis community itself, there are quite a few organizations waiting for your donation:

NORML has been a voice for marijuana reform since 1970 and has successfully led efforts to decriminalize minor marijuana offenses in 11 states. And its sister organization, the NORML Foundation, sponsors public advertising campaigns to educate the public.

The Cannabis Science Research Foundation researches the endocannabinoid system to develop new, safe and effective marijuana medications.

Grow for Vets is an organization dedicated to saving the more than 50 veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose.

In addition, there’s Cannabis for the Cure, which is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting researchers in their efforts to find a cure for cancer and other debilitating conditions.

Ending 4/20 Shame

As always, I like to end every #End420Shame article with a reminder that cannabis discrimination still exists, and it’s the voices of the users and those in the industry that make the biggest difference.

If there were one thing that Scott Pierce would want everyone to know about cannabis, it’s this, “Cannabis is one of the earth’s greatest gifts to us. Learn all you can about cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. It will unlock a world of possibilities and will allow you to see this plant as something more than just an intoxicant.”

If you have an #End420Shame story or topic and you’d like to see it in an issue of DOPE, you can write us at [email protected] or contact us on social media using the hashtag.

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