This piece was written by Director of CSR DR. Rabbi Baruch HaLevi
Build a brand that’s genuine about improving communities
As Director of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), I’m often asked about my title at ONE Cannabis. “What exactly is that, how does it work” they ask. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon, today many corporations employ someone in this position.
Essentially, CSR is what it says— the commitment of a corporation or business to be responsible in their business practices. Certain companies like ONE Cannabis measure their success beyond only profitability, or what we call the Triple Bottom Line: Profit, People & Planet. In a nutshell, this is called, “Conscious Capitalism,” or “Conscious Cannabis” as we refer to it, and is the idea that capitalism unchecked can have harmful consequences. Capitalism harnessed for the good, however, is one of the most powerful drivers of positive impact human beings have ever known.
This idea that corporations have an obligation to improve the world is gaining traction, especially with the highly-coveted millennial demographic. At the same time, the legal cannabis industry is entering the markets at an opportune time when cannabis consumer activists expect cannabis companies to look at more than just the bottom line. Cannabis companies are in a prime position to solidify a new standard, and therefore the perception, of corporations. Legal cannabis is a completely new product by any measure, one that has a huge amount of positivity surrounding it. Cannabis companies, as an extension, can capitalize on that positivity for everyone’s benefit.
Three major factors must come together for Conscious Cannabis to have a significant effect– companies have to have the ability to choose the right path, companies have to want to choose that path, and companies must have a product that consumers want. In other words, capitalism, conscience, and cannabis need converge to realize these aspirations. ONE Cannabis calls this concept the C-Change.
C-Change isn’t an easy sell or a quick fix, but the economic landscape is ripe for this sort of shift – a sea change. Some cannabis operators, including ONE, are literally putting their money where their mouth is. For cannabis companies with a conscience, the capitalistic system can be of great benefit to consumers, especially when the product has inherent healing abilities.
Applying the Idea
It’s easy to differentiate between marketing ploys and serious attempts for businesses to improve social and economic conditions of the communities they operate in. Just look at the business model and ask one question— is the company incorporating betterment directly into their strategy, or is it simply an afterthought?
Most companies give a percentage of their returns to one charity or another, essentially handing off all responsibility to nonprofits. Nonprofits have certainly done a great amount to improve conditions around the world, but they shouldn’t be the only option. For-profit entities should also take matters into their own hands and craft their business model in a way that incentivizes The Triple Bottom Line.
At ONE, a pillar of our business is dedicated to this idea. Our SEED program interweaves our own interests with those more deserving, creating a model that makes our financial benefit indivisible from our ethical notions. The company partners with social equity applicants across the country to bring economic development into disadvantaged communities using cannabis as a vehicle, make a positive impact in the very communities devastated by the War on Drugs.
Simply put, our SEED program is an effort to change the landscape of the cannabis industry, the communities in which we operate, and the lives of those whom we partner with, interact, and serve. Yes, we are a for profit company, and because of our commitment to Conscious Cannabis, we are also a company making a C-change within the world.