Video: Cannabis Advocacy

What do National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), International Cannabis Farmers Association (ICFA), Angeles Emeralds, LA Cannabis Task Force, California NORML, Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), and Americans for Safe Access (ASA) have in common?

They all participated in our most recent Connecting Cannabis event at The Abbey in West Hollywood.

Why? Because they need your help to continue to advocate on behalf of the industry, patients, and those affected by the war on drugs.

Introduction and Panel Discussion

Our advocates need funding. The people on the front lines who lobby for policies that help protect patients, give opportunities to women, minorities and people of color, relentlessly voice their thoughts and concerns on regulations for businesses, organize community outreach programs, and of course, get people out of prison who are still stuck in there for offenses that are no longer illegal, need our support.

Unfortunately, there are still too many companies and people in this industry that do not give back and appear to be just fine letting everyone else do the hard work for them as long as they can profit on top of it. This has got to stop and it’s up to us to make it happen.

Our speakers talked about what we can do and how we can do it. They helped us understand what is needed and who needs it. They got us thinking out of the box so we can all continue to support this industry and help make people’s lives better each and every day.


  • Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
  • Curtis Stafford, Director of Business Development, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
  • Cat Packer, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
  • Ruben Honig, LA Cannabis Task Force
  • Jonatan Cvetko, Angeles Emeralds
  • Mary Patton, Cannabis Advocate 10+ years
  • Hal Lewis, Cannabis Advocate 30+ years
  • Brad Lane, Cannabis Advocate 20+ years

Karen O’Keefe, Director of State Policies, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

Curtis Stafford, Director of Business Development, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)

Cat Packer, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

* Peter note: If you only watch one video, watch Cat. But definitely watch all the videos 🙂

Ruben Honig, LA Cannabis Task Force

Jonatan Cvetko, Angeles Emeralds

Some advocates who couldn’t make it to the event gave us their perspective on the importance of advocacy and the work advocates are doing.

Lynne Lyman, CA State Director, Drug Policy Alliance

“You’re walking in today to this whole nice legal world where everybody can wear a name tag that says they’re with some cannabis association, whereas five years ago even, people were still doing federal time for having a dispensary.

The advice I give to all of the people who come into the cannabis industry is understand the history. There’s the sense that people are just waltzing in as if it’s just any other industry. I want to discourage that and remind that a lot of people have died, people have been incarcerated, they’ve had their families destroyed. Making sure you’re a good neighbor, and you’re working with the community that you are based in.”

Diane Goldstein, LEAP – Law Enforcement Action Partnership

The Greek playwright Aeschylus (ES-kalis) once wrote, “In war, truth is the first casualty.” His prescient summary of the nature of conflict and power has played out on American soil over the last 40 years as we have strived to make our country drug-free.  

It’s clear that the industry needs to recognize that they are not just entrepreneurs, but that they are drug policy reformers and advocates as well and can help by continuing to support drug policy reform organizations that have been instrumental in rolling back the harms of the drug war while protecting all of our civil liberties.

Kristin Nevedal – Chair, International Cannabis Farmers Association

Donations from canna-business in Humboldt has built a community center, KMUD Radio, The Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, local volunteer fire departments, technical rescue and sports and art programs at our rural schools.  That’s a farming community for you!  

Going forward, I’d love to encourage folks to get involved with their local community by supporting and volunteering.  Our schools, fire departments, parks and so much more need our time and donations.  But also, as a business in a burgeoning industry, we have a lot of work to do and that means supporting the organizations who are moving the local ordinances, state regulatory development and research forward.  As individuals we sort of end up on the menu.  But as a group we are strong.  

Giving Back Programs

Cannabis brands and advocacy organizations are engaging with their local communities and giving back to those in need. If you’d like to be featured here, send us a few paragraphs on your organization, the vision behind your giving back program, the results, and maybe some tips for others who are wondering what they can do or where to start.

Angeles Emeralds

On Saturday, July 1st, members of Angeles Emeralds organized a street clean up in East LA.

Many of us have supported our communities behind the scenes for years now.  Dropping off water bottles on Skid Row during heat waves.  Donating toys during the holidays.  Collecting canned food for donation to food shelters, and more.  But we’ve never been able to do it as Cannabis Supporters.

Breaking through the years of stigma, Angeles Emeralds is committed to showing our support and participation as responsible members of our communities.

On Saturday we took a first step by introducing Angeles Emeralds to East LA by picking up over 25 full bags of trash along Whittier Blvd.  Along the way we made new friends of the local businesses and listened and addressed any concerns the community had.  We are committed to making our community better and safer for all. Nothing speaks louder than actions.

We hope to continue the discussion in all parts of LA County showing our communities that Angeles Emeralds members care.  We strongly support efforts to make our communities better by setting the example of what a responsible cannabis industry looks like.

Bloom Farms

For every Bloom Farms product sold, the one-for-one cannabis business donates money to food banks across the state to cover the cost of sourcing and distributing a healthy meal to a family or individual in need. One Bloom Farms item sold has equalled one healthy meal donated since the Bay Area company started its one-for-one program in December of 2015. As of of the end of June Bloom Farms has donated nearly 650,000 meals. 

As a teenager, Bloom Farms founder Michael Ray saw this first-hand while growing up in Calaveras County with childhood friends who oftentimes stayed over for home-cooked meals.

“Back then we were simply having my friends over for dinner, but I didn’t realize the severity of the situation until I got a little older and saw the statistics that say one in eight Californians don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said Ray. “It just broke my heart, and I knew I had to do something about it.” 

In addition to its one-for-one program, Bloom Farms gives its staffers four hours of paid volunteer time every month to dedicate as they see fit – and many of them choose to spend those hours working in one of the organization’s partner food banks. It’s that bilateral dedication that has made a lasting impact at these cash-strapped nonprofits.

“Partnering with Bloom Farms has made all the difference for World Harvest LA and its clients,” Glen Curado, CEO of World Harvest LA Food Bank, said recently. “They not only contribute financially, but their staff volunteers with us as often as they can. It’s an amazing company with extraordinary staff.”

SF-Marin Food Bank executive director Paul Ash agrees that Bloom Farms’ hands-on dedication to their food-gathering work has been invaluable.

“We’re so grateful for the reliable support that Bloom Farms has provided over the past year,” said Ash. “Just as our participants know they can depend on us for food, knowing that Bloom Farms is there to support the SF-Marin Food Bank is something we truly value.”

Jetty Extracts
Jetty’s Shelter From The Storm project mission is to provide cancer patients with clean and safe medicinal cannabis oil at no cost to the patient.

Marijuana has long been shown to be an effective treatment for pain and a safe alternative to many drugs currently used to treat cancer. In an effort to help in the fight against cancer, Jetty is committed to supplying its products complimentary to cancer patients seeking medicinal marijuana as a cancer treatment.

In addition, Jetty is collaborating with local businesses and community members to provide cancer patients with other valuable services. For instance, Jetty can help source plant strains high in CBD, supply patients with donated grow equipment, and work with them on the initial design and setup. Jetty puts cancer patients in touch with consultants who can speak with the patient about his or her concerns and formulate the right treatment plan for.

Matt Lee, co-founder of Jetty, elaborated by answering a few questions.

Where did the idea for your giving back program come from? 

We knew when founding Jetty that we wanted to incorporate philanthropy into our business model. Prior to The Shelter Project we were already giving free oil to friends and family who seemed to really benefit from it so we kind of rolled that into our business model and started providing oil, free of charge, to any and all cancer patients in California in monthly care packages. I was on a surf trip and worked out all the numbers and once we found that we could do it we launched The Shelter Project.

What’s the mission / purpose of your giving back program?

I guess the mission is to provide relief and an alternative to chemo drugs to patients who want it and couldn’t otherwise afford it, as well as bring awareness to cannabis as a medicine.

What’s been the outcome of your program?  

The outcome has been amazing. We have received a lot of support from the industry and many requests to donate or help out in any way. We have hundreds of testimonials from thankful patients and we have managed to attract the best team in the industry because they believe in Jetty’s values. The Shelter Project is the most rewarding thing I’ve been a part of.

What are the biggest challenges related to running your giving back program?

I’d say the biggest challenges are logistical. It has grown so fast we have had to hire a manager to fully focus on the program and she stays very busy.  Catering to each individuals needs, we have developed products specifically for certain patients that we don’t even sell on the market such as suppositories. Making sure each patient gets their meds in a timely manner etc.

What have people who purchase your products told you about how your giving back program makes them feel? does it influence people to buy your products?

I would say it makes people feel good about their purchase and I think most dispensaries like supporting a brand that gives back. Some don’t really care but most appreciate it.

How many patients have you given free medicine to to date? Or helped to set up their own grow with free equipment?

I think we have around 400 people enrolled in the program to date, maybe more.

Connecting Cannabis Supporters & Partners

A big thank you to our supporters and partners! Without their help, these events would not be possible.

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