Shaping the Cannabis Industry with Corporate Social Responsibility: A GMP Collective Webinar

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In this webinar, the presenters discussed the impact that diversity, sustainability, and other values have on cannabis businesses.

On February 28, 2024, the GMP Collective presented their eighteenth installment of the webinar series, When Things Go Wrong. In this presentation, a panel of industry specialists offered their insights and tips in “From Risk to Reward: The Bottom Line Benefits of DEI and ESG Implementation.” They explained how the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) play an important role in the future of the cannabis industry. The panel discussion was moderated by Bethany Moore, Director of Content Strategy and Market Growth for the GMP Collective, joined by the CEO of the GMP Collective, David Vaillencourt. The panel speakers were Mike Lomuto, co-founder of Dao Mastery, and Marc Ross of Needle Consultants and former head of Impact and ESG at Vicente LLP.

To begin the discussion, Mike Lomuto, who had transitioned from the legacy cannabis space into the regulated cannabis industry, explained his motivation for specializing in DEI within the cannabis and hemp industry, and Marc Ross described his experience as well, plus provided an overview of the three pillars of ESG. They also explained the challenges specific to the cannabis industry when considering DEI and ESG policies, noting the complex history of cannabis and offering suggesting on how to choose which values to prioritize.


Next, Marc and Mike covered examples of cannabis companies with successful DEI and ESG integration into their business models and what other companies could learn from this. One common theme throughout the discussion involved the difference between performative versus actual engagement with communities and initiatives. Citing data and reports throughout the webinar, they concluded that producing metrics and adhering to an ethos provides support to businesses in various aspects.

Other topics covered included analyzing the equity initiatives in state cannabis laws compared to the potential national and international regulatory frameworks, how advocacy and investments may shape the landscape of businesses in the long term, recent reports examining ESG impacts on market values, the types of measurements companies should be taking on their initiatives, and how leadership can educate employees in these initiatives and foster a culture of improvement.

To wrap up the presentation, David Vaillencourt highlighted several upcoming cannabis conferences including the Cannabis Science Conference from May 7–9, 2024 along with ASTM International Committee Week. David is the Vice Chair of ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis, which is organizing the Conference on Empowering Diversity in Global Cannabis Industries for 2025.

Lastly, one question from an attendee asked how to not feel overwhelmed by implementing new regulations. In response, David encouraged people to see standards and measurements not as a burden or a check box, but rather as a business opportunity to differentiate yourself from others.

Find more information on GMP Collective webinars here or watch the full recording of this episode here.