Cannabis Podcast Mashup fundraiser for CFAMM draws enthusiastic support

By Alana Armstrong

“CSR is a big mouth full,” says Wiggins. “It’s governance, it’s economic sustainability, it’s how you treat people in your community that you’re in.”

One party during Canadian Cannabis Week seems to have emerged as a must-see event for those interested in learning about all things corporate social responsibility (CSR), but with a side of fun.

Tickets may already be sold out for the Cannabis Podcast Mashup fundraiser for CFAMM (Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana)—hosted by The CannalystsThe Cannabis Act podcastGrow Tech Labs and Maru/Matchbox—but the good news is people don’t need to physically attend to know what’s happening; they’ll be able to get the highlights on Twitter.

The fundraiser is just one of many offerings as Toronto plays host to members of the country’s burgeoning cannabis industry during Canadian Cannabis Week June 3 to 9, which features Lift & Co. Cannabis Business Conference and Expo Toronto 2019 and its associated side events. 

Smashing response for mashup fundraiser

Craig Wiggins, co-founder of The Cannalysts, told The GrowthOp that selling tickets to the event was not an issue. Initially booking a room with a 220-person capacity in Toronto’s business district, the event was moved to a 300-person capacity room after selling out the first room in just five days of the public announcement.

“I’ve never done an event with so little resistance. The idea just resonated,” says Wiggins, who says he has put on many different events. He realized that sponsors would be attracted to the event’s association with a well-supported charity, but acknowledges he didn’t fully predict the positive reaction to the CSR theme.

“Corporate social responsibility, I didn’t think would be as sexy a topic; we’re beating them away with sticks. We have 18 interviews, and the uptake was immense.”

Ticket-holders will receive catering by Bier Markt, witness a joint roll-off and have access to plenty of other activities besides networking. Throughout the night, the three members of The Cannalysts (Wiggins, known as “GoBlue”, Andrew Udell, who goes by “Molly” and Graham Jones, who is also known as “Cyto”), along with Jon Liedtke and Nicholas Nedin of The Cannabis Act podcast will interview some of the industry’s biggest companies to explore the humanitarian initiatives they are spearheading.

The C-suite-level interviewees include Jeannette VanderMarel of 48 North Cannabis Corp., Jonathan Zaid of Aurora Cannabis Inc., Terry Lake of Hexo Corp.Lisa Campbell of Lifford Cannabis Solutions, John Fowler of Supreme Cannabis Company, Inc., Adam Greenblatt of Canopy Growth Corporation, Abi Roach of HotBox Café, Peter Aceto of CannTrust Holdings Inc., Erin Gratton of High Values HR, Matei Olaru of Lift & Co., and former NHLer Riley Cote, a member of Athletes for CARE.

“We all kind of come from different spaces and we highlight different places in the cannabis industry, so it’s kind of cool to come together around a theme like CSR,” says Jenna Valleriani, PhD, CEO of the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education (NICHE Canada) and host for the evening.

Being involved, buying in key to strutting CSR stuff

“Corporate social responsibility is a big mouth full,” says Wiggins. “It’s governance, it’s economic sustainability, it’s how you treat people in your community that you’re in.”

Canopy is involved with Mothers Against Drunk DrivingAphria is involved with the Arthritis Society, but it’s more than cutting a cheque. It’s being involved,” says Wiggins. “It’s interesting how this nascent industry is trying to do things right, and an event like this gives them a chance to strut their CSR,” he says.

“As an industry, you’ve got people competing, competing, competing all the time. What this is, is a collaboration. You’re actually getting the industry together to collaborate and celebrate and co-operate, and that in a cut-throat new business where everyone’s trying to get ahead of each other,” he adds.

Jonathan Zaid, who founded CFAMM and is Aurora’s director of advocacy and corporate social responsibility, will be attending the event. “At Aurora,” Zaid tells The GrowthOp, “we ingrain social responsibility and sustainability within the DNA of the company and ensure that we give back to the communities that we operate in, and those that have propelled the movement to where it is today.”

This year, the company is looking to bring that approach on a global level. “We’re rolling out different initiatives and programs that will ensure communities are supported, that we are approaching the industry in a responsible way, and setting the standard for defining what it means to be a socially responsible company.” 

Event gets attendees on a roll

Another highlight of the evening will, of course, be the joint roll-off, whereby select attendees will show off their aptitude—or lack thereof—for rolling a joint. What may sound like an easy task for those who work in cannabis, frequently is anything but.

The first cannabis podcast mashup event, which took place during the Vancouver Lift & Co. conference and expo this past January, saw a bowtie-donning Chris Stone, director of quality at Broken Coast Cannabis, roll his very first joint. As Stone goes, because this is all on video, he jokes that his then job as quality-assurance/quality-control manager was to prevent this kind of joint—hand-rolled and licked to seal—from going to the market.

Those wanting to test their rolling prowess must bring their own gram of intact (unbroken) cannabis. Those not in attendance can listen to the “roll-up” music playlist on Spotify—think of it as the walk-up music at a baseball game where each player gets an epic anthem to roll to—while following the #CannabisPodcastMashup highlights live on Twitter.

The best part of it, says Wiggins, is proving that there’s not one philanthropic stone left unturned for this event. “What’s left over from their gram, after its judged, goes to High Hopes Foundation, a Vancouver-based opioid substitute project.”

Wiggins says he and his fellow podcasters are already looking toward Lift & Co’s next Vancouver event in January 2020, where the theme of its fundraiser will switch from CSR to medical studies.

Read more on The Province.