Better Business: Industries Band Together to Fight Coronavirus (Excerpt)
The coronavirus has impacted every aspect of the world, from how Americans shop and socialize to how they travel and work. Businesses are experiencing unprecedented disruptions in day-to-day operations, whether from social distancing requirements or changing attitudes towards spending.
In spite of the challenges, companies across a wide swathe of industries have found ways to give back to communities in their time of need. Here’s how several industries have reallocated their resources to give back:
Cannabis companies may have been left out of the federal stimulus plan — but that hasn’t stopped many from rising to assist in the fight against coronavirus.
“As a cannabis company, we are used to the short end of the stick,” said Dan Zaharoni, CEO of cannabis multistate operator From the Earth. “As horrific as this crisis is and as much as we hope it ends soon, I think it has also given us an opportunity to show how mainstream our industry is … and that we are taking action as a responsible steward of the resources and as a good neighbor in our community.”
California-based From the Earth is one of many cannabis companies leveraging its manufacturing capabilities and connections to chip in on the fight against coronavirus, despite a challenging year for the cannabis industry.
From the Earth allocated equipment and resources in its manufacturing facility in Desert Hot Springs, California, to make hand sanitizer for local hospitals and first responders. The multistate operator is currently producing about 20 to 25 gallons of FDA-approved sanitizer per day in the hopes of distributing about 100 gallons of sanitizer per week to hospitals and police departments across California and Michigan.
New England Treatment Access (NETA), a Parallel subsidiary which operates several Massachusetts-based dispensaries, partnered with more than a dozen cannabis companies to manufacture and donate hand sanitizer. Together, the group hopes to donate some 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer weekly to Massachusetts hospitals, even though the state has designated adult-use cannabis nonessential, taking a substantial bite out of sales.
“It is our mission to help improve the health and wellness of the people we serve. While this initiative is outside of what we typically do… it’s certainly something that we can do in this very very unique time to supplement those efforts especially at a time we are so restricted in terms of what we can offer,” said Amanda Rositano, regional president for Parallel Massachusetts.
Multistate operator Cresco Labs partnered with 90 restaurants across eight states in which it operates to deliver as many as 650 meals to its workforce daily. It’s Cresco’s push to protect its workers’ health while also supporting an industry that has been decimated by social distancing measures and forced closures in many states. The company has also taken to hiring laid off service industry workers as it attempts to maintain a robust workforce to support its essential operations.
“It is a way to show how our industry can be essential and how people can depend on it. It’s also a way we can support our local communities and work with regulators to show them how important this industry is,” Cresco Labs spokesperson Jason Erkes said.
Sublime Canna is employing a similar approach, hiring out-of-work temps, in Oakland, California.
Vape and accessories company Cloudious9 donated much-needed infrared thermometers to the San Francisco Fire Department and has leveraged its supply chain and connections abroad to help agencies source scarce personal protective equipment.
Cannabis extracts company Moxie donated 300 gallons of hand sanitizer to St. Francis Hospital Group in Southern California, as well as distributing hand sanitizer and homemade masks to dispensary partners, staff, and delivery customers. The company said it is in talks to produce hand sanitizer and masks at cost for larger hospital groups.
The coronavirus pandemic is just the latest blow for the cannabis industry, which has struggled after a particularly brutal year. Having disrupted most global industries in various ways, the pandemic has brought both victories and losses for the nascent cannabis industry.
When San Francisco became the first locality to designate cannabis businesses as “essential” services, sparking a wave of similar action across cities and states, the industry celebrated. Retail shops and delivery services also noted surges in demand in advance of lockdown measures as cannabis patients and enthusiasts alike rushed to stock up.
But when it came to federal assistance, the cannabis industry, which is still federally illegal, did not qualify for disaster relief perks like Small Business Administration-funded loans. The snub hasn’t, however, discouraged cannabis companies from contributing in various ways to the fight against coronavirus as a gesture of thanks and support for their local communities, first responders and those most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“As cannabis entrepreneurs, we are very lucky to get the support from our communities and local governments,” From the Earth’s Zaharoni said. “We want to give back. We want the communities that we are operating in to understand we are a vital part of their ecosystem, and when they are in need we are going to be there for them.”
— Chloe Aiello