Tilray Becomes the First Cannabis Corporation to Fund Employees’ Abortion Expenses
This isn’t about optics — it’s about saving its workers’ lives.
Published on July 1, 2022

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Corporate cannabis giant Tilray says it will pay for travel and accommodation, and provide paid time off, for US-based employees who need to travel out of state for their reproductive health — yes, that includes abortions! — after the US Supreme Court announced its gutting of Roe v. Wade last week. 

Tilray joins a long list of corporations that have stepped up in a similar manner, though it appears to be the first major cannabis company to do so, according to MJBizDaily.

As you know, Roe v. Wade is the historic 1973 case that established that banning abortion violates a person’s constitutional right to privacy. One week after the Court’s decision to revoke, abortion has been banned — with no exceptions for rape or incest — in five states: South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama. Five other states have enacted partial bans, bans in eight states will soon take effect, and four states have been blocked by legal action from enforcing bans. (You can keep tabs on the progress of these atrocities via the New York Times’ continuously-updated tracker.)

Tilray announced that it wasn’t down for gutting gestating peoples’ rights via a tweet on Tuesday from the company’s CEO and chairman, Irwin Simon.

“At Tilray Brands, the health and safety of our employees, patients, and consumers is our top priority,” he states. “Considering the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling, we are updating our health care benefits for all Tilray U.S. employees to include transportation expenses for employees and their covered family members to receive access to the reproductive care they need and choose.”

The choice of wording in “reproductive care” may be important given that the wording in the Court’s ban was troublingly vague in terms of what constitutes an abortion. Conservative figureheads have taken to conflating actual abortion with birth control in recent years, and there are concerns that some states will attempt to define human life as beginning at conception — which could place contraceptives in danger of being banned, too.

Based in the abortion-protecting state of New York, it’s unclear how many of Tilray’s 300 US-based employees could be impacted by abortion bans — though it does own a brewery in Georgia, where a ban on abortions after six weeks is expected to take effect soon.

The booze and weed giant is certainly not the only corporate behemoth that has seen fit to expand its health care policies. Amazon, Starbucks, and even Dick’s Sporting Goods are among those that have announced similar policy changes.

This isn’t simply good optics for these companies — it means keeping their employees alive. The World Health Organization states that globally, roughly 5% to 13% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortions (usually, those carried out by “untrained persons using dangerous and invasive methods”). And many of these anti-choice state bans do not provide adequate exceptions when it comes to pregnancies that put the parent’s life in danger.

Remember to support abortion funds, and that when done correctly, it can be relatively safe to self-manage an abortion with pills that are available in pharmacies or via mail order.

Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud. 

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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