Advancing Philanthropy October 2020 - 22

Ethics

Cannabis falls into the category of "controversial sources,"
similar to tobacco, alcohol and gaming. So, mission
and values alignment comes into play.
*	 Consider public acceptability, which can be
swayed by many factors, including:
>	 organizational culture
>	 external stakeholders
>	 who you serve
>	 donor demographic
*	 Review gift acceptance and recognition
policies to ensure they align with your
mission, values and culture. How
does it align with your human
resource's view of cannabis?
*	 Determine if your donor is
investing in related science
research or programming
(for instance, postsecondary
education)-that should be
evaluated differently.
*	 Understand how cannabis, alcohol,
tobacco, gaming and other similar areas
differ from each other in their implications.
A one-size umbrella policy position can't fit all.
Hypotheticals need to be considered, and a process
for dealing with decision-making on a case-by-case
basis needs to be in place.

© Photo: Enecta Cannabis

THE U.S. PERSPECTIVE
The United States is more complicated than Canada since
the federal government has not yet legalized cannabis.
For a nonprofit organization to even consider a donation
from a cannabis company, it's important to know your
state's laws about the use of cannabis.
According to the drug testing company DISA Global
Solutions' website, marijuana is fully legal in only 12
states. Twenty-eight states have not fully legalized
marijuana, but it is legal for medicinal purposes.
However, six of those 28 states have only legalized the
use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil. While these states may
have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, many
have not decriminalized its use.

22	

Advancing Philanthropy	

It is also important to know where the U.S. federal
government stands in regard to the states that have
legalized cannabis. James M. Cole, the deputy attorney
general under President Obama, wrote a memorandum
in 2013 updating the guidance the U.S. Department of
Justice issued regarding marijuana enforcement under
the Controlled Substance Act. The memo stated that the
DOJ would not enforce the federal marijuana drug
laws to states as long as the states "implemented
strong and effective regulations and
enforcement systems . . ." (Memorandum
for All United States Attorneys:
Guidance Regarding Federal Marijuana
Enforcement," Office of the Deputy
Attorney General, Aug. 13, 2013).
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
then rescinded the memo under
President Trump. However, several
appropriations bills have passed
in Congress, providing states with
protection from federal law enforcement
for state-licensed medical marijuana businesses,
and these protections have "been included in every
budget deal passed in Congress since its introduction
in 2014." (Cannabis Times, "Spending Bill Amendment
Could Extend Federal Law Enforcement Protection
to Adult-Use Cannabis Businesses" July 29, 2020).
Confused yet? It's a complex subject.
There are cannabis companies that want to donate
and give back to their communities in part because
of the significant profits. Business has been booming
for companies in the states where cannabis is legal.
According to CNBC, in 2019, sales in Colorado alone
were $1 billion. In California, "retail stores sold $2.5
billion worth of products." (cannabusinessplans.com).
Many of these companies may also be required to
donate to nonprofit organizations or provide services
to the communities where they are located before
receiving licenses. For example, in Massachusetts,
applicants for a cannabis license must provide a plan
as to how they'd positively impact their community.
However, cannabis companies are finding it difficult
October 2020 / www.afpglobal.org


http://www.cannabusinessplans.com http://www.afpglobal.org

Advancing Philanthropy October 2020

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