How Cannabis Doing Good is Making a Difference in the Industry
Published on May 17, 2021
As a consumer, we have a lot of power in our hands. Spending money at businesses that give back to the community, use sustainable business practices and other strong core values can help encourage others to do the same. This principle is no different when shopping for cannabis, but it can be quite difficult for consumers to know what businesses are giving back. This is where Cannabis Doing Good comes into play. Cannabis Doing Good is working to improve the industry by creating a purpose-driven cannabis network, showcasing companies doing good, and setting the standard for social responsibility in the cannabis sector. We sat down to chat with the co-founders, Kelly Perez and Courtney Mathis, to learn more about Cannabis Doing Good and how consumers and businesses can get involved.
WW: What inspired you to start Cannabis Doing Good?
We had been consulting with cannabis companies to build social responsibility and community engagement programs for about 3 years and soon realized there needed to be a much larger platform for organizing the cannabis industry around community engagement, racial justice and sustainability. So we founded Cannabis Doing Good with the hopes of creating a purpose-driven cannabis movement. We initially hosted CDG Socials, our fundraising events, where we invited both cannabis and nonprofit sector folks to network, build relationships and raise money for local nonprofits addressing food insecurity, homelessness, education, etc.. We expected 50 people at our first event and had 150 people joyfully show up. Soon we were partnering with M4MM and MJBiz to host CDG Socials across the country. We lovingly called them parties with a purpose. This was our first litmus test to determine if companies truly sought a purpose-driven community and to test if we could make the right thing, the easy thing.
Shortly after a year of successful events, we hosted our CDG Awards, proudly recognizing companies who lead in areas of community engagement, sustainability and most importantly, racial justice. We've awarded companies from across North American two years in a row now.
We had such tremendously positive feedback from our events, our awards, and our digital campaigns that we are now launching the Cannabis Doing Good Membership Program and Badge. We want to organize the industry around purpose, give them tools to assess themselves and programs to learn and do better. Finally, within our community, we hope to badge Cannabis Doing Good companies so that consumers can find purpose-driven, earth-conscious, racially-just brands and support them with their dollar. We'll know we are successful when we've created a purpose-driven ecosystem, led by brands and businesses and supported by customers and patients. We feel strongly that Cannabis Doing Good can shift the existing paradigm of extractive capitalism and model what a people-centered, earth-honoring, racially equitable sector can look like. Maybe we're idealists? But we've been at it for 6 years and with all the humility that experience has taught us, we still believe cannabis can do good.
WW: What do you see as the biggest issue facing the cannabis industry?
This: extractive, white-run, well-funded businesses taking over the industry without regard to small businesses, Black, Brown and/or women-run enterprises, care for the Earth or respect for its communities.
For us, this is a pivotal moment in our history where we get to build the industry we want. But the truth is, we have to get a lot noisier and a lot more organized if we want to change what is already becoming another same ole' commoditized sector, ripe with a few haves and a lot more have nots. This industry was built upon the backs of Black, Brown, poor and sick people. These folks should be at the forefront of its success. All the while centering green and sustainable practices so that we aren't contributing to the decimation of our planet. We have seen nonprofits, small businesses, certifications and policies emerge in an effort to tackle these issues. They are making progress - but not fast enough. We hope Cannabis Doing Good can be part of that progress - perhaps even a catalyst for the changemaking we seek. We used to say we want to be the North Star for the industry, but we recognize now, what we really are building is a constellation of stars to guide and lighten the path towards a more conscious cannabis sector.
WW: How can individuals help make the cannabis industry more equitable?
Businesses, even the really good ones, center their workdays on ensuring their bottom-line is profitable. Consumers, patients and individuals have all the power here. You can support Black, Brown, Indigenous, women-led, LGBTQIA+-run businesses by merely giving them your patronage. Buy Black. Buy Brown. Buy Queer. Most of all, just buy consciously. Support brands and retailers that uphold your values and if they don't, begin demanding that they do. Write letters, talk with budtenders, offer solutions, partnerships, a suggestion box, etc. If they don't listen, take your dollar elsewhere. When given a choice, we believe consumers by and large will choose purpose over price. So take a pause when you follow a good deal or a coupon and consider if you have the privilege and the opportunity to use your dollar for good - do it. And be on the lookout for CDG Badged brands -- because we know if we can give consumers and individuals the tools to find conscious brands and start impacting bottom lines, then we've actually created an economic driver for social change. And that is where the magic of change-making happens.
WW: What can businesses do to support your efforts?
We love when people engage with us! We have a few ways of Doing Good. First, head over to Cannabis Doing Good, sign-up for our newsletter, events or our membership. We have events, assessments, and programs all designed to create a purpose-driven cannabis sector. Secondly, consider supporting our nonprofit, Cannabis Impact Fund. CIF seeks to galvanize the industry and its consumers around the movement for Black Lives. Have your company pledge 1% or donate. We truly have made the right thing, the easy thing. Lastly, consider signing your company up for our Anti-Racism training. It's certainly hard to undo oppression if we don't fundamentally understand it. Our expert-led Anti-Racism training was built specifically for the cannabis industry and we believe it is a great first step towards undoing years of harmful practices and policies that have enslaved, harmed and oppressed all people of color in this country. Not sure where to go after posting the Black square or hashtagging #stopAsianhate? Anti-Racism/Anti-Oppression training is a meaningful place to lead progress and to leverage your business for good.