Cannabis Philanthropy: Breaking The Green Ceiling
Author – Christina Ketchum – @christinamyriha
Edited by Noah Persin & Jon Russell
Green ceiling (noun)
1. an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, affecting those in the cannabis industry due to the “stoner” stereotype
We’re all aware of the stoner stereotype. From the low life Cheeches and Chongs to the mid-twenty somethings we see in current shows such as High Maintenance and Broad City. Everyone has an idea of what a cannabis user looks like, and I’ll bet you they don’t vary too much from the above cliches. Up until this point it’s been more or less a harmless, played-out joke. The problem is when a whole professional industry is being set back by a stale, exaggerated stigma. This is the “Green Ceiling” we defined above.
So how can we change this? We’re beginning to see the cannabis industry take this question seriously, and the answer seems to be involvement. Involvement in community, charity and politics. Donating time, money and goods while bringing enthusiasm and passion for social change to the frontline. There are many ways to participate in the local and global community, but cannabis seems to be finding it’s niche in philanthropy.
The history of philanthropy shows it having the ability to influence social change, but it has more potential for change than just community enrichment. Philanthropy can be extremely effective at influencing the public’s view of a industry, company or an individual’s image. One prime example of this is Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Even from the early stages of Microsoft, Gates had a poor reputation at best. Known for getting into screaming matches with CEO’s of other companies and his ‘abusive manager’ style, Gates would be sued several times throughout his career. In 2000 all that began to change with the inception of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been involved in and spearheaded countless philanthropic missions. With 4 branches of the foundation they have been involved in everything from global health, development and local education to advocacy for social issues. Throughout the last 16 years, Gates involvement with the local and global community has virtually scrubbed his reputation clean.
The blooming cannabis “Green Rush” now has a very similar opportunity. Oregon alone has brought in $160 Million in the first 9 months of 2016. That’s a lot of money for social change! Cannabis is now in a unique position coming onto the philanthropic scene. With a history heavily tied to jails and prisons, the impact cannabis could have on supporting prison conditions and dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline is palpable. Cannabis also has a very promising future in medicine.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that cannabis has, deserved or not, a stigma to overcome. Once seen as the people of society that break up and break down communities, those working in the cannabis industry are looking ahead to a long battle of changing this view into one of positive involvement and community enrichment. Philanthropy provides an avenue to repair the reputation of cannabis users, raising the “Green Ceiling” while creating higher standards and professionalism in the cannabis industry.