Fake Social Responsibility

The Problem with Fake Social Responsibility

“Social equity” and “social responsibility” are a couple of trending words in the cannabis community. And while these are extremely important topics, I feel their weight slowly shifting. Perusing the websites of some of the top cannabis brands you will find an emblem, a slogan, or even a whole section boasting about their efforts with BIPOC. On the heels of a fellow cannabis blogger exposing Marijuana Matters, I have decided to come forth with a story that is a couple months old. Still, it is very indicative of the industry, and of the standard that has been set.

As a cannabis entrepreneur, I make it a point to hit up business networking events aka weed related events. It’s always a fun time, and worth attending to meet a few interesting people. So when I heard that the Sesh City Unlimited Bus would be at the Illinois Cannabis Training Center Networking Night, I was there. Super excited to finally get to consume at an event. Mckensie, the co-founder and overall head, was also slated to speak, so it sounded like it would be a good night.

She started with her origin story. From her beginning work opening dispensaries across the US to her hard work with GTI, she was the standard boring story in an industry that’s thirsty for ingenuity. Nothing exciting. She finished her talk and the floor was open for questions. From the back of the room, came a strong, feminine voice that confidently asked about the social responsibility they boast about on their website. I quietly applauded her for such a question, one that I never would have the balls to ask.

Instantly all eyes were back on Mckensie, on her shifting in her seat and smiling widely. She glossed over the question, mentioning something about sports programs that didn’t really make sense. She wrapped up her answer diplomatically, no real answer at all. I want to take a second to mention here that on the Sesh City Unlimited website, it mentions that they are Black owned and women led. Which is impressive, but is that the extent of their work for equality? When their tagline is “We are a Social Equality Smoke House. We’re building community and equal opportunities through cannabis-powered services.” But, what does this really mean?

I am not here to attack Mckensie or Sesh Bus.

Despite the lack of information about community and equal opportunities they’ve created. Despite most of their events being with the same corporations who are preventing a “socially equal” market. Despite not really understanding their goal of inclusion and unity. Despite the cringey picture of Mckensie and her braids on their “Meet the Team” page. No, I’m simply using Sesh City Unlimited as an example. An example of how companies use social responsibility as a fad. A social media post. An emblem. They use it as a way to say they care, without actually having to put in work for that belief. Because no one is holding them responsible for carelessly using POC as a selling point.

Yes, they proudly display a BIPOCANN emblem on their website. BIPOCANN is an organization funded by corporations like Columbia Care. They’ve previously been embroiled in questionable deals with large corporations. Overall they are the lesser of many evils. But, it’s just simply not enough. It’s not enough to say you support people of color. If you’re going to make it the entire tagline of your business, please explain. Please elaborate on your plans, what you intend to make happen. Stop with the bold statements that really mean nothing.

I’ve written about this before and how these brands and dispensaries have a responsibility to POC.

How it’s not all POC, but African Americans historically and specifically. I refuse to shop at any dispensary that doesn’t have an African American / Black person employed there. I absolutely refuse. If you can have people of color on your websites and social media, then they should absolutely be present in person at your business. It’s ridiculous how many companies get by with nothing more than a well placed picture. Using influencers of color to pretend to be hiring them, but they don’t. The times of zero accountability are gone, today is the day that we must fight back with our wallets and with our social presence.

I have written previous blog posts about how we can hold these companies responsible. It’s high time we are putting a spotlight on these companies and what they’re really doing and saying. Considering we now have access to vast amounts of information, and social media removing the veil on old secrets and new companies alike. 

Please do not direct any hate toward any business or organization mentioned. I am here to speak on a topic, an event, and an interaction that was public. Giving my opinion and bigger picture perspective.

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