Jai Kensey is the director of social impact at national cannabis retailer Green Thumb Industries. The company created the Good Green Grant Program to reinvest cannabis dollars into Black and Brown communities that were affected by the War on Drugs.

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer,
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Green Thumb Industries, a national cannabis retailer and consumer packaged goods company, recently opened applications for its Good Green Grant Program, which awards unrestricted funding to nonprofit organizations that create change in education, employment and expungement for underserved communities. 

The program is open to nonprofits based in Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and applications close on August 19. 

“The program was really developed as an effort to reinvest cannabis funds back into the community to really help right the wrongs of the War on Drugs, or the war on people as we usually say, in Black and Brown communities across the United States,” said Jai Kensey, director of social impact for Green Thumb Industries. 

Launched in 2021, Good Green is a cannabis brand under Green Thumb Industries. Proceeds from the sale of its products are used to fund the donations awarded to nonprofit organizations through the Good Green Grant Program. 

Thus far, the program has given over $500,000 to local nonprofits, and it’s on track to award more than $1 million in grants by the end of 2022. 

As a multi-state operator, Green Thumb Industries believes that its role is to provide resources to grassroots organizations that are directly serving Black and Brown communities who continue to battle the inequities exacerbated by the War on Drugs. 

“The War on [Drugs] was not something that was just focused on incarceration,” said Kensey. “[There] was a domino effect that happened in terms of resources, education, breaking families apart, mental health and trauma.” 

One of the grantees of the Good Green Grant Program’s inaugural year was Innovation Works, a Baltimore-based organization that works to reduce the racial wealth divide in the city. The nonprofit connects neighborhoods, entrepreneurs, social innovation assets and investors to build sustainable neighborhood economies in Baltimore. 

Innovation Works was awarded $75,000 from the program. 

It used the funds to bolster its executive mentor network, which predominantly provides resources and support to the organization’s social entrepreneurs, and the organization was able to convert its part-time mentor network manager into a full-time position. 

Innovation Works also plans to use the money to update its customer relationship management (CRM) system to better the communication between its entrepreneurs and mentors. 

“The consequences of the War on Marijuana, in some ways, are visible and in some ways invisible, and being able to do some sense of repair with proceeds from the industry and where it’s headed is helpful,” said Jay Nwachu, president and CEO of Innovation Works.

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