It’s no secret that the legal cannabis industry is quickly turning into big business. But with billions of dollars now circulating annually from the sale of the once-controversial plant, one group of legal weed businesses is trying to make sure that the fast-growing industry doesn’t fall into the same moral snares that have come to define mainstream corporations.
According to concurrent reports from Bloomberg News and the Associated Press, a group of 45 licensed medical and recreational cannabis companies based in Canada, America, the UK, and Israel signed an agreement focused on curbing environmental damage, promoting local regulatory compliance, and responsible sales. Dubbed the Global Cannabis Partnership, the group includes Canadian giants Canopy Growth and Aphria, California’s Cannadescent, and more.
“This is the first time that I can think of where an industry’s decided to get corporate social responsibility right out of the gate,” Rick Petersen, the partnership's cofounder and author of its Social Responsibility Framework document, told Bloomberg.
And while the framework itself is decidedly light on specific details, the five-page document outlines four guiding principles – responsibility, collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement – as well as 12 impact areas for those brands to focus on improving, including agricultural practices, packaging, product safety, research, and social justice.
“Driving this initiative is a shared commitment with governments, community groups, and other stakeholders to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, keep profits out of the hands of criminals, and protect public health and safety by allowing adults access to legal cannabis,” the framework reads. “We are also very conscious that our industry, like others, has a significant environmental footprint, and we are committed to minimizing this impact throughout our supply chain.”
In its first few years, the global cannabis industry has been marred by a number of incidents ranging from illicit sales and product contamination, to stock manipulation and unchecked waste. And while the Global Cannabis Partnership and its guiding framework are good first steps toward corralling those problems, only time will tell if the cannabis industry as a whole is willing to follow suit and trade glowing dollar signs for social responsibility.
You can read the full text of the Global Cannabis Partnership’s Social Responsibility Framework and see a list of all of the participating companies here.
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