Image by erika8213.
Certain cannabis companies are aiding Ukraine through donations to various charities, given the current humanitarian crisis.
When Russia first invaded Ukraine, the world reacted with condemnations, sanctions and more. According to The Washington Post, Germany stopped a pipeline transporting natural gas from Russia to Germany; Israel offered humanitarian assistance; and the United Nations pleaded with Putin to stop aggressions.
The U.S. imposed sanctions, according to ABC News, and Russian carriers are no longer allowed in American airspaces. As a result of these sanctions, gas prices are rising as Biden is boycotting Russian energy.
Individual states also leaned towards banning Russian-made vodkas like New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and more, according to NBC News.
Cannabis companies are also doing their part to aid Ukraine. Many — including Helmand Valley Growers Company, MediThrive, and Lime — are donating a percentage of their profits to certain charities that support the Ukrainian people, whether it be through meals, medical supplies or general relief.
Helmand Valley Growers Company and its Veteran Mission
Helmand Valley Growers Company (HVGC) is a veteran-owned and operated cannabis business that sells vape cartridges and pre-rolls. Corey Potter, director of sales, said that the company wants to put an end to the opiate and suicide epidemic, specifically in the veteran community.
“We are a service organization that just happens to sell cannabis,” Potter said.
According to Potter, the money the HVGC makes goes towards funding veterans medical cannabis research to find a viable solution to the opioid crisis.
Currently, the company is also focused on raising funds to help organizations in Ukraine.
“When it’s an emergency, there’s no time to wait,” Potter said, speaking about HVGC donations to World Central Kitchen (WCK).
WCK is a charity organization that provides chef-prepared meals to communities in need. They currently support Ukraine, Tonga, Afghan refugees, Venezuelan refugees and families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“WCK is first to the frontlines,” their website stated. “Cooking and eating together is what makes us human.” They send cooks to places in need as they see food as hope, comfort and care.
Potter and his team were inspired to support WCK after they saw a news report of a mother who walked nonstop for days carrying her young daughter with cerebral palsy until she reached a train for hospice kids.
The team tried to put themselves in the mother’s shoes, especially team members with children. They wanted to make an impact with food – as everybody must eat.
Potter said that WCK has tents set up in Ukraine, and they can’t hand the food out fast enough. They’re hoping their donations make a change for the millions of starving refugees and internally displaced Ukrainians.
The Growers’ Impact
Potter will be donating a portion of HVGC’s weekly sales to WCK. The fundraiser started March 15th and will tentatively last until the end of April.
All stores selling HVGC products in California are participating. Though the business is still small, they stretch from San Diego up to the Bay Area and out through the desert.
The flier advertising HVGCs fundraiser for Ukraine. Image by HVGC.
Those who don’t live in California can still support HVGC and WCK by purchasing apparel on HVGC website. They feature shirts, hoodies and hats.
“We’re excited to lend a hand,” Potter said about the fundraiser. “It’s important to do things like this when you have the opportunity.”
MediThrive’s Ties to Ukraine
MediThrive is a small, family-funded business in California that’s been in operation since 1996. They consider themselves the Apple Store of the cannabis industry.
The inside of MediThrive dispensary. Image by MediThrive.
The company’s CEO, Misha Breyburg, was born in Odessa, Ukraine and immigrated to the U.S. in the late 1970s. His parents, Russian-speaking Jewish Ukrainians, saw the lack of opportunities for Jewish people and moved to San Francisco for a better life.
Breyburg wants people to know that the ex-Soviet community in the U.S. is exactly like every other immigrant group. “Overwhelmingly, you will find people that consider themselves extremely fortunate to be here, because obviously, wherever they were before was bad enough for them to want to leave,” he said.
“I think that you will find they are hard working, family oriented, and happy to be able to partake in the proverbial American Dream for a little bit better or a little bit worse,” Breyburg also emphasized.
Breyburg and MediThrive emanate this American Dream, and want to create equality and equity all around them. As such, the team was eager to help support Ukranians in the current invasion.
Giving it all to Sunflower of Peace
MediThrive dedicated a week (week of March 6th) to donating proceeds to the non-profit organization, Sunflower of Peace. For one day, MediThrive donated 100% of sales to the non-profit, and for the rest of the week, the company donated 10% of all sales.
The outside of a MediThrive’s store in California. Image by MediThrive
Sunflower of Peace is a Boston-based group that aims to support Ukranians by sending medical aid. Before the invasion, they served orphans, those displaced by the pandemic and more.
They currently only accept medical aid donations. Those who want to support can donate directly to their website or purchase goods from their Amazon List.
Though Breyburg could not share exactly how much the company raised, he did say the number is in the mid-to-high five figure range.
The MediThrive team jumped at the opportunity to support such a cause. After Breyburg consulted his team, 100% of members were on board. After he introduced the idea to the brands sold in their store, all 75 agreed to participate.
MediThrive and the brands it sells —— including Kanha, Kiva Confections, Level and more — settled on Sunflower of Peace as opposed to the bank account that the Ukraine government established because they didn’t want funds to be used for the military or war. Sunflower of Peace’s medical mission stood out and inspired peace.
“It felt like a perfect fit,” Breyburg said.
Breyburg is particularly affected by the situation in Ukraine; seeing this devastation is hard because of his ties to Odessa. “It’s so much worse when it’s your city,” he said.
Like many others, Breyburg wants the conflict to end quickly and for his homeland to have peace restored.
“War belongs in a museum,” he said.
Lime Cannabis and Hope for Ukraine
Lime Cannabis sells over 200 different products. They specialize in pre-rolls, syrups and blunts. Their products are all local to California.
A Lime watermelon pre-roll product. Image by Lime Cannabis.
Lime will donate a portion of their sales from March to Hope for Ukraine, a non-profit that serves to improve the lives of the citizens affected by the Russian invasion. They specialize in rehabilitation and providing basic yet critical needs for children, soldiers and vulnerable citizens.
Co-founders Sergey Vasilyev and Giovanti Humphries explained that one-third of their employees come from countries affected by the war. “We know the harsh realities that come with conflict,” they said.
The total amount raised so far is unknown, as the fundraiser just started. Lime will be making their donation to Hope for Ukraine at the end of the month.
Their team and the magnitude of the crisis serve as their inspiration. “Community is always at the center of everything we do,” they added.
The Call to Action
The HVGC, MediThrive and Lime teams share a similar call to action.
“Whoever you are reading this, do something. You don’t want to regret it later. You don’t have to come to MediThrive, come to another charity. Donate money or supplies, or just post something, but do something,” Breyburg emphasized.
Potter, the HVGC director of sales, shared the same sentiment. “If not me, then who?” he asked.
Resources to Help Ukraine
World Central Kitchen: chef-prepared meals for starving refugees to erase hunger while creating community, comfort and hope.
Sunflower of Peace: donating medical supplies, and can be supported through a donation or buying off of their Amazon List.
Hope for Ukraine: helping vulnerable groups of citizens through rehabilitation and providing basic necessities.
Voices of Children: helping to provide psychological care to children impacted by the war.
CARE: providing food, water, kits and other essential items for refugees.
Save the Children: provides humanitarian aid and food to children in crisis.
Vostok SOS: Ukraine-based and run by volunteers to assist those fleeing the country.
Kyiv Independent: with the demand for news, supporting this charity helps to provide English-language journalism for the Ukraine-based reporters to tell the true stories.
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