Bloom Farms is built upon the belief that cannabis can enhance a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle. The cannabis company aims to remove negative stigmas by inviting patients to take a fresh look at time- and lab-tested medicine – and they do so by working with responsible Californian family farmers to grow their cannabis by extracting oil with clean CO2, the same process used in extracting essential oils, without petroleum-based solvents. This week we talk to Erin Kanaley, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, about how it first started and how the challenges they face, compared to those of businesses in traditional industries, are monolithic.
Hey Erin, can you tell us how you first started out with Bloom Farms?
I have always had a passion for being a small part of something big. I also thrive on the ability to open people’s minds to new ideas and alternative ways of thinking. Bloom Farms embodies both of these challenges for me. I was always curious about the industry, based on my personal use of cannabis.
I am proud to say I am a hardworking 30-something who doesn’t rely on any pharmaceuticals or alcohol to unwind, relax or get a good night’s sleep. What I do use is cannabis, the indica strain in particular. Bloom Farms provides an all-natural way to consume cannabis through micro-dose vaping. Vaporising doesn’t have any side effects or hangovers, and I get to enjoy a slow progression to a very relaxed state in the evening!
How are you breaking with mould with Bloom Farms?
The San Francisco Business Times recently announced Bloom Farms™ as one of the Top 100 corporate philanthropists in the Bay Area. Bloom Farms is the only cannabis business to secure a place on the esteemed list of the region’s 100 top corporate philanthropists. Other companies in the 2017 Top 100 include Google, eBay, Levi Strauss & Co., Twitter, Microsoft, Bayer, Adobe, The Gap, PayPal, and Salesforce.
For every product sold, Bloom Farms donates money to food banks across California to cover the cost of sourcing and distributing a healthy meal to a family or individual in need. One Bloom Farms item sold has equaled one healthy meal donated since we started our one-for-one program in December of 2015.
Bloom Farms donated its 500,000th healthy meal to the state’s nonprofit food banks in April 2017 — and is on target to reach 1 million donated meals by Thanksgiving 2017.
And this is important because more than 5.4 million Californians don’t know where their next meal is coming from — and that includes the 2.1 million children who may go to bed hungry each night, according to the California Association for Food Banks. The state’s food insecurity rate is nearly 14 percent.
In addition to our one-for-one program, Bloom Farms gives our staff four hours of paid volunteer time every month to dedicate as we see fit — and many of us choose to spend those hours working in one of our partner food banks.
The cannabis industry should be no different than any other, but the truth is there’s still a stigma surrounding cannabis – but we can show the world that this stigma is little more than an anachronism by doing more than what is required of us.
As Bloom Farms founder and CEO Michael Ray recently wrote in MG Magazine: “Corporate social responsibility is our ticket to changing perceptions about what we do. Corporate social responsibility is our way of healing the planet, not just our patients. Corporate social responsibility can no longer be a second thought.”
What barriers you have faced and had to overcome?
With Bloom Farms being a plant-touching cannabis business, the challenges we face compared to those of a traditional company are monolithic. We still don’t have full access to the kind of banking services that are standard for other industries. And of course our trade is also one that is still illegal federally, so in addition to the near-impossible banking and tax climates, we also run the risk of the Justice Department closing our doors daily.
It is also challenging to practice corporate responsibility amid this monumental state-versus-federal clash. For example, when our CEO first set out to talk with California food banks about Bloom Farms’ one-for-one program, many of the organisations turned us down at first because of the nature of our business.
Recounting his initial efforts to align his company with a receptive organisation, our CEO Michael says the initial meetings he took were not well-received. Some local and national nonprofits have refused to accept donations from cannabis companies because many banks still won’t work with marijuana businesses and because they’re afraid of losing federal funding or their nonprofit status. But thankfully more and more nonprofits are realising that they can accept these donations and work hand-in-hand with these partners in the cannabis industry.
When I asked Michael about the experience, he told me, “It was probably a six-month process of us getting denied by various organisations. We were told, flat out, ‘No, we can’t take your money,’ by many, many different places.”
When Michael walked into his meeting with the SF-Marin Food Bank in November 2015, he expected more of the same. Instead, he says, food bank representatives couldn’t believe no one was willing to partner with him: “They were saying, ‘What do you mean you’ve gotten turned down? This isn’t political. We’re just trying to feed people.’ It was music to my ears.”
What are your next steps to expand?
We are very excited to see the conversation change and evolve around cannabis. Many people now have an opportunity to legally be reintroduced to the experience of cannabis in a whole new way. All of our efforts are focused on the greater good of the plant and our excitement around how we can play a part big part in bringing relaxation, relief, enjoyment, and fun to a healthy lifestyle
Twitter: @BloomFarms | Instagram: @bloomfarms
You can find a lot more information on the vape pen, the HIGHLIGHTER™, strains & how cannabis works online at http://getbloomfarms.com