The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) has announced the first recipients of funding through its Social Impact Fund.
The Fund, launched in April 2023, provides funding for organizations working to promote social responsibility in connection with cannabis.
The fund’s first recipients are the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, The Cannabis Social Equity and Equality Development (SEED) Initiative, the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, the University of Calgary, the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP), and McMaster University.
The OCS has provided $500,000 to support programs, services, and research by incorporated not-for-profits, registered charitable organizations, and researchers affiliated with academic or research institutions that “contribute positively to the Ontario public and legal cannabis industry.”
These first projects cover an array of related subjects, including but not limited to studies on the physical health impacts of cannabis exposure, digital storytelling about cannabis harm reduction, and cannabis workforce empowerment programs.
More information on the program, the recipients, and the 2024 call for applications can be found here.
“We are thrilled to introduce the inaugural Social Impact Fund project teams, and look forward to supporting this important work over the next year,” says Dr. Jenna Valleriani, Senior Manager, Social Responsibility at OCS. “The Social Impact Fund is part of our continued commitment to making a positive impact in Ontario and beyond, and will provide a growing opportunity to invest in programming and research that aligns with OCS’s social responsibility objectives.”
Michael Athill, the director of the Cannabis Social Equity and Equality Development (SEED) Initiative, which seeks to create opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) individuals to succeed in the cannabis industry, also commented.
“The legalization of cannabis in Canada has spawned inspiring stories of both local and global impact,” said Athill, who was also the co-founder of a cannabis micro production facility in Ontario, North America’s first entirely Black-owned, federally licensed cannabis cultivation and processing facility.
“The SEED Initiative is our chance to write more of these stories, especially from marginalized communities,” he continued. “SEED is not just a platform; it’s our commitment to building a pipeline of success by minimizing the obstacles that hinder progress. Together, let’s lift as we climb.”
Funding through the initiative can range from $25,000 to $100,000 for projects that are eight to 12 months in length, and the first round of organizations had until May 25 of this year to apply.
The OCS initially set aside up to half a million dollars for the first year of the project, with a goal of providing it for initiatives that are aligned with the three key pillars of OCS’s social responsibility strategy for 2021–2024: establishing a foundation for environmental sustainability, supporting a diverse and inclusive cannabis industry in Ontario and advancing cannabis knowledge and responsible consumption.