State DHS’ Reefer Madness

pot_leafControversy continues to brew in the pot that is Oregon’s cannabis industry. Last month the Oregon Department of Human Services refused a nonprofit’s donation of Thanksgiving dinners for families who couldn’t afford them due to the organization’s involvement with legal weed.

The Women’s Leaders in Cannabis of Eugene is a group made up of nearly 30 female leaders of the cannabis community. In the first week that recreational pot dispensaries were open, the industry made over $11 million. So, being a nonprofit organization based on philanthropy, WLC decided to put together a generous contribution of 20 turkey baskets—each containing $50 worth of food—as a way to give back to the community and pass forward the good fortune they’d received.

Initially, DHS said they’d accept the kind-hearted donation, but only a few days later the state turned the decision on its head. After consulting with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, DHS decided that any involvement with a pot-related organization would signify the endorsement of marijuana. According to a DHS spokesperson, the department assists many families torn apart by drug and alcohol abuse, and would no sooner accept a donation from a company that produced alcoholic beverages.

For WLC, DHS’ rejection was upsetting. “It just weighed on the soul a little bit,” group founder Lindsey Jacobsen told The Oregonian. Though the women in the group do work in the cannabis industry, the group itself does not produce, grow, or distribute pot. Nor do they condone drug abuse. In fact, it would appear that a gift to families with drug problems from a group of women in the weed business could serve as a reparation of sorts to those who struggled with legal problems when marijuana used to be a criminal offense.

Fortunately, the turkey baskets were accepted by an organization that supports families of autistic children. But this isn’t the first rejection WLC has faced, and it probably won’t be the last. According to a November report by High Times Magazine, other cannabis-related businesses in Oregon have been similarly rejected by charities after attempting to donate food and funds valuable to those affected by poverty. Reefer madness continues, and families in need remain so.

By Kiki Genoa