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Non-Profits Becoming More Relaxed about Accepting Donations from Pot Companies

Maureen Meehan

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As marijuana legalization spreads across the land and the pot-smoking stigma relaxes, cannabis-related businesses are naturally becoming more involved in the communities around them—and some are even donating money and time to local charities.

Just this fall, a medical cannabis company in Illinois joined the many sponsors of the Chicago marathon, a historic first.

A pot business in Denver hosted an annual golf tournament to help raise money for multiple sclerosis research and another donated to a gay-rights advocacy group and sponsored an AIDS walk.

“It’s not all about making money and about profiting,” Ian Seeb, co-owner of Denver Relief told the Associated Press.

Denver Relief, for example, is a dispensary that has donated to Ekar Farm and Garden, which grows vegetables for food banks.

Currently, it is unknown how much money marijuana businesses have donated to nonprofits nationally and in Colorado.

“It is a brand new public conversation,” Tom Downey, a regulatory attorney who specializes in marijuana, said in a recent US News article.

The Department of Justice, which has been watching the growing legal pot industry, declined to comment to AP when asked about this growing trend. The IRS also declined to comment, although it is known that pot companies cannot write off donations when filing their taxes.

Not only does this seem unfair and possibly discourages well-heeled and well-meaning marijuana companies from donating to charitable causes, it is also an unwise revenue-gathering approach on the part of the government and IRS.

After all, the legal marijuana industry was worth $2.7 billion in 2014, according to pot industry investment and research firm The ArcView Group.

Thankfully, increasing numbers of successful marijuana companies are choosing to share their profits a bit, with or without government encouragement.

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