Wana Brands has always aimed to improve lives through cannabis, but now the Boulder, Colorado company has taken it a step further.

Using funds generated through Canopy Growth Corporation’s planned acquisition of Wana Brands, the company has launched the Wana Brands Foundation, which aims to support community causes beyond cannabis.

Cannabis Products recently spoke to Karla Rodriguez, corporate social responsibility director, about the Wana Brands Foundation’s creation, its mission, and its immediate impact.

CP: What was the inspiration behind launching the Wana Brands Foundation?

KR: Since establishing Wana Brands in 2010, our mission has been to enhance lives through cannabis. Nancy Whiteman formed the Wana Brands Foundation to dimensionalize what it means to enhance people’s lives and tremendously expand the scope and impact of serving our communities and the world at large. Rather than focus on one specific cause, we are tackling several areas, including research & education, food security, shelter, safety, mental health, sustainability, connection, and social justice. We have had the privilege of partnering with more than 50 inspiring nonprofit organizations that are doing good in the world. 

CP: How much funding does the Wana Brands Foundation have? How did it secure the funds?

KR: Nancy Whiteman established the $50 million endowment from the proceeds of Wana’s October 2021 transaction with Canopy Growth Corporation. The WBF is committed to allocating no less than 5% of the endowment per year towards charitable initiatives, and we surpassed that goal in 2022.

CP: Has the foundation already committed funds to any organizations? If so, which ones?

KR: To date, the WBF has committed over $3.8 million to more than 50 nonprofits. Key Wana Brands Foundation initiatives include: 

  • A $2 million gift to Johns Hopkins University, which will benefit the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in support of cannabis and cannabinoid research, including the potential use of cannabinoids to treat autism. This research will be led by Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the JHU Cannabis Science Laboratory.
  • A $1 million gift to the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, which focuses on how psychedelics affect behavior, mood, cognition, brain function, and biological markers of health. Upcoming studies will determine the effectiveness of psilocybin as a new therapy for opioid addiction, Alzheimer's disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (formerly known as chronic Lyme disease), anorexia nervosa and alcohol use in people with major depression.
  • $500,000 gift to Out Boulder County's "We All Belong" capital campaign for its new community center. Out Boulder County’s mission is to facilitate connection, advocacy, education, research and programs to ensure LGBTQ+ people and communities thrive in Boulder County and beyond.
  • $160,000 to 16 local organizations working to promote food security in their communities. These gifts are part of the WBF's commitment not only to feed individuals in need, but to address the environmental and social injustices that contribute to food insecurity across the country.
  • $50,000 to nonprofits focused on social justice, including the Reentry Initiative, Last Prisoner Project, Expunge Colorado, and National Expungement Works.
  • $25,000 grant to Realm of Caring, whose mission is to improve quality of life through cannabinoid research, educational services, and advocacy while creating global community connections.
  • $25,000 to the League of Women Voters Education Fund to support voter education and resources.

In the wake of the tragic King Soopers shooting in Colorado, the WBF donated funds to Animal Assisted Therapy Programs of Colorado for a memorial to the victims and survivors. Conceived by the family of one of the victims, the memorial offers a place where people struggling with mental health issues can receive animal assisted therapy.

CP: Why do you think it’s important for cannabis businesses to give back to the community?

KR: Cannabis is now a legal sector of business, but the War on Drugs disproportionately hurt people of color in countless ways; these ramifications transcend generations. It is important that the industry currently thriving as a result of progress also endeavors to correct these historical wrongs. That is why the WBF gifted nearly $50,000 to nonprofits focused on social justice, including the Reentry Initiative, Last Prisoner Project, Expunge Colorado, and National Expungement Works.

CP: What future goals do you have for the Wana Brands Foundation?

KR: We look forward to continuing our mission and funding much-needed resources that enhance lives.

CP: Will the Wana Brands Foundation continue to raise funds beyond its initial endowment?

KR: Not at this time.

CP: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

KR: We are looking forward to growing our work in all areas of focus and keeping the momentum of 2022 going.

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