In the cannabis industry, a wise investment in corporate social responsibility can go a long way in building brand recognition and trust. It can help remove some of the stigma of an industry that some people have always perceived as socially irresponsible.
Community investments are important mediums for brand awareness. Brands faithfully and powerfully link themselves to positive causes, like fitness, cancer research and more. These investments wholesomely enhance the lives of their customers and their families. As long as the relationship is visible and the outcomes of the investment are important to its customers, it rarely matters if the cause is directly related to a business’ core services: banks enthusiastically support cancer research, and food companies commit to the development of local hockey rinks.
For many reasons, there are different opportunities in the cannabis industry. Community investment can create awareness about this new industry, especially in a regulatory environment that makes advertising brand benefits impossible. Community investments can communicate the acknowledgment of perceived product barriers, and ways to solve for them. As well, strategic investments can further the development of the industry itself.
Here are 6 notable community investment areas:
Drug and Addiction prevention
Regulation won’t convince everyone that cannabis, once an illegal substance, is something that is safe. Companies can acknowledge these fears and take a stand on responsible use by directing dollars to education and drug prevention programs. Canopy Growth has maintained support for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and also for Parent Action on Drugs, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Aphria supports ‘Drug Free Kids’, focusing on education, awareness and youth protection.
Research and clinical trials are needed to validate cannabis as a medical remedy and confirm/ improve its efficacy. Canopy Growth has funded research at the University of British Columbia to investigate the role of cannabis in treating opioid addiction.
With new business come new jobs. The cannabis industry has opened up a floodgate of new employment and careers paths. In addition, companies like Canopy have also invested in programs at Niagara College, working with them to create certification programs, in cannabis production, horticultural greenhouse technicians and cannabis business programs.
A cannabis employer can become a good neighbour very quickly. Canopy Growth took over many buildings in Tweed, Ontario from Hershey Canada, who had left town, leaving behind a workforce without employment. Canopy made a ‘local first’ policy about hiring, and their story of building one of Canada’s largest cannabis brands is also the story of the comeback of the town of Tweed.
Changing Cannabis Culture
Aurora has made an investment in changing culture by making a donation to Cannabis Amnesty, a group that works to expunge cannabis charges from criminal records.
Some cannabis brands direct their community investment to groups that may lack access to products and resources. Tilray supports veterans and has a bridging program to help with gaps in government compensation for cannabis expenses. Canopy Growth partners with The Canadian Aids Society on research. In Colorado, the team from Lightshade dispensaries supports their employees with food insecurity volunteering. Her(b) Life has a program called Cannabis Noire, to create space and give access, education and business support to underrepresented groups in the industry.