On February 24, Russian forces crossed the border into Ukraine and officially invaded the country. Almost immediately, the war became the center of attention around the world, largely due to the humanitarian crisis it created.
Despite these distressing and bleak events, the efforts to help the Ukrainian people have shown a side of humanity that arguably does not get enough attention. People from every walk of life are doing what they can with what they have to assist Ukrainians and push back against this unlawful invader. That includes many great efforts from different businesses in the cannabis industry.
One such business is the San Francisco-based, Ukrainian-American-owned dispensary, MediThrive. They chose to help support the nonprofit Sunflower of Peace Foundation and donated an entire day of sales, as well as 10 percent of sales thereafter for a whole week.
“I was born in Odessa, Ukraine and I have been back a number of times over the years,” said Misha Breyburg, CEO of MediThrive. “Odessa was, and I hope is and always will be, an amazing place both physically and in personality.”
Breyburg added that Sunflower of Peace was chosen because they provide medical and first aid supplies. “We wanted to focus on that instead of military aid,” she said.
Another group that stepped up is the owners of Helmand Valley Growers Company who know all too well the dark realities of war, as the business is owned and operated by U.S. veterans. Normally, the company donates 100 percent of its profits to help vets. But until at least the end of April, they will be giving their proceeds to the World Central Kitchen, an organization that provides meals to people on the frontlines of various conflicts, including Ukraine.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive, from both the veteran community and the general public,” said Corey Potter, the Director of Sales for Helmand Valley. “We chose WCK after seeing their work to help feed the Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion. From a logistics perspective, we figured it was better to send them funds, rather than trying to coordinate shipping donated goods. Our main focus was to get them what they need ASAP.”
Lime Cannabis has also joined the efforts to help Ukraine, as the conflict has personally affected people who work there. “We have many team members who have families that have been displaced, or have themselves been affected by the war,” said Sergey Vasilyev, Co-Founder and CEO. “We’ve decided to donate a portion of our March sales to Hope for Ukraine, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving Ukraine’s most vulnerable citizens. We chose this organization because we know that marginalized communities are always the most affected in times of crises.”
Moving all the way over to Detroit, a dispensary called Luxury Loud teamed up with Srodek’s Quality Polish Food for an event on March 13th called “Pot & Pierogi,” raising just over $25,000 for UNICEF Children in Ukraine.
“Although we know that money is a drop in the bucket given the magnitude of the destruction and human suffering of the war, it was heartening to see the good in people and their wanting to help others in need,” said Elissa Mugianis, a spokesperson for Luxury Loud.
Heading north of the border now, a fundraiser in British Columbia, Canada operating through BC liquor and BC cannabis stores raised $538,074 between February 28 and March 17. All donations will go to the Canadian Red Cross and its efforts to help the Ukraine humanitarian crisis.
The campaign provides support through emergency preparedness, relief, and other humanitarian efforts in both Ukraine and surrounding countries. The British Columbia provincial government is also committing $1 million to the Canadian Red Cross and their effort to support Ukraine.
“It is clear from the remarkable response to this campaign that what is happening in Ukraine has touched people all across the province,” said Minister of Finance Selina Robinson in a news release.
“Seeing BC liquor and BC cannabis store employees’ support for this campaign, and the customers’ compassion and generosity, really shows how willing people in BC are to step up and support their local and international communities when it is needed most.”