MJBizMag March 2021 - 57

Chris Anderson, general counsel and
chief regulatory officer at Fluresh. " That
said, we believe that with our leaders
and managers in our business, as well as
our connections within the industry ...
there's enough real-life knowledge that
will really have a positive impact on the
participants. "
SETTING UP
A SOUND STRUCTURE
Curio, Hawthorne, Green Thumb
and Fluresh all tailored social equity
programs to fit their companies'
capabilities and priorities.
Fluresh, for its part, decided to
work with a handful of individuals
to provide participants with one-onone
mentorship, Anderson said. The
company has more than 200 employees
and specifically tasked its community
impact strategist with handling the
program's logistics, such as coordinating
dates and scheduling visits to partner
organizations.
" We wanted to take a small, bitesized
group where we're hopefully not
overstretching our team too much
or giving these people less than they
expect, " he said.
There are also legal
concerns to consider,
Anderson added. " Part of
the regulations (say) that
any non-employee has to be
accompanied at any point
(when they're in a cannabis
facility). "
Green Thumb, on the other
hand, worked with hundreds
of people through its LEAP
program to try to assist as many aspiring
entrepreneurs as possible.
" Don't underestimate the number of
people who will avail themselves of such
resources, " Linda Marsicano, vice president
of communications for GTI, advised
other companies looking to implement
their own programs. " When the (LEAP)
program first started, we had a conference
room booked, and many more people
came than we thought. It was standing
room only. Finally, we were renting out
space at a local college to make room for
everyone who was interested. "
Curio and Hawthorne have taken
different approaches to their fund
concepts. Hawthorne relied on the
knowledge of its parent company and
established its fund via a one-time
donation to The Scotts Miracle-Gro
Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
" By putting it into the 501(c)(3)
mechanism, we can only give to other
501(c)(3) " organizations, Herrington
said. " This really targets where the
dollars are going to ensure
that the community benefits. "
The Curio fund, for
Chris Anderson
comparison, was established
under a traditional private
equity structure. It's being
seeded via investments from
the company's leadership
and third-party investors.
Registre, who has a finance
background that includes investment
banking at JPMorgan and private
equity firm Sterling Partners, was hired
to organize the fund.
DOING WHAT'S RIGHT,
FOR THE RIGHT REASON
Some social equity initiatives from
cannabis companies have been criticized
for being self-serving or superficial.
There's an incentive, advocates say, for
firms to focus on diversity in order to
reap benefits such as obtaining licenses
from local governments that favor social
equity efforts.
" There are a lot of companies starting
their own social equity programs, but of
course, they have prioritized themselves
in the process, " said Amber Senter,
CEO of Breeze Distro. The Oakland,
California-based nonprofit she cofounded,
Supernova Women, helped
establish the social equity programs
in Oakland and San Francisco and
contributed to legislation in California
that funds such programs throughout
the state.
Firms can avoid missing the mark
by partnering with nonprofits and
organizations that are repairing damage
caused by the war on drugs, increasing
diversity in the cannabis industry
and spearheading other social equity
initiatives, Senter said.
" It's really important for these
companies that are well funded to make
sure that they are working with groups
like Supernova so that they have a pulse
on the community-what's actually
happening on the ground, " she said. " Let
these organizations that have been the
doing work take the lead. "
Partnerships with community
organizations can take the shape of
establishing a donation framework,
such as setting aside a portion of sales
or giving a one-time sum. However, it's
important for businesses to " not just
March 2021 | mjbizdaily.com 57
The Fluresh Five Accelerator
Mentorship Program is
designed to make the cannabis
industry more equitable for
victims of the war on drugs.
Courtesy Photo
http://www.mjbizdaily.com

MJBizMag March 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag March 2021

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