Advancing Philanthropy October 2020 - 20

Ethics

To Cannabis or
Not to Cannabis?
What You Need to Know
By Melanie Elliott and Andrea McManus

C

anada and the United States are two countries
that have entered the world of legalized cannabis.
This has not come without challenges, particularly for
nonprofit organizations. Accepting a donation from a
cannabis company may not violate our Code of Ethical
Standards, but there are things to consider before making
that decision. Our article's focus is not to advise you
or your organization on whether you should accept a
donation from a cannabis company, but to provide you
with information and questions to ask in order to make an
informed decision if, and when, a donation is offered.

CANADA PERSPECTIVE
On Oct. 17, 2018, Canada ushered in what is (and
continues to be) a major social and economic policy change.
Canada became only the second country globally, and
the first G7 and G20 nation, to legalize cannabis for both
medical and recreational use, thereby contributing to an
industry initially thought to be worth somewhere between
$2.6 billion to $6.3 billion. Notwithstanding less than
expected sales, it is projected the industry will be valued at
$5 billion in 2021 and a potential $9.2 billion by 2025.
The Canadian cannabis market is broad and includes
medical and recreational use. Legal medical usage
preceded legalized recreational use by several years. It also
includes multiple usage methods: ingestion through food
and beverage, inhalation, vaping, spray tinctures and
other means.

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Advancing Philanthropy	

Certainly, there are two different perspectives for
nonprofits to consider: what is right for your employees
and clients (human resources policies) and if your
organization will both accept and recognize gifts from
cannabis companies (the focus of this article). Cannabis
falls into the category of "controversial sources," similar
to tobacco, alcohol and gaming. So, mission and values
alignment comes into play. Ultimately, it comes down to
doing your due diligence and updating or crafting your
gift acceptance policy.
In addition, the industry is subject to a strict
regulatory regime. These are items to keep in mind:
*	 Advertising activities covered by the federal
legislation are broad-promotions are prohibited
unless they fall within limited exceptions.
*	 Promotional communications about cannabis,
accessories and services are permitted, but with
strict limits.
*	 Promotions must not be accessible or appealing to
young people. The requirements and restrictions
apply when "promoting" cannabis, which is broadly
defined as making a representation "for the purpose
of selling ... by any means, whether directly or
indirectly, that is likely to influence and shape
attitudes, beliefs and behaviors about the thing
or service."

October 2020 / www.afpglobal.org


http://www.afpglobal.org

Advancing Philanthropy October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Advancing Philanthropy October 2020

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https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AFP/advancing-philanthropy-april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AFP/AFP_Jan2021
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https://www.nxtbook.com/ygsreprints/AFP/AP_July2020
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