From marijuana to hand sanitizer: Cannabis companies pivot to produce, donate essential products for coronavirus fight

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coronavirus, From marijuana to hand sanitizer: Cannabis companies pivot to produce, donate essential products for coronavirus fight

Formulating hand sanitizer in a cannabis facility. (Photo courtesy of Aloha Green Holdings)

(This story has been updated to include information from CannaCraft about the costs and processes associated with formulating hand sanitizer.)

Many state authorities have deemed U.S. cannabis companies “essential” businesses during the coronavirus pandemic and allowed them to keep their doors open – and now some marijuana businesses are producing an essential product to help combat COVID-19: hand sanitizer.

From Hawaii to the Eastern Seaboard, companies are using marijuana production processes to manufacture and donate sanitizing gels for use in curbing the spread of coronavirus. And it seems they are able to do so without any significant costs or process changes.

It’s a sign marijuana firms are putting their local communities’ interests top of mind during challenging times, and, in the long run, it could help boost the bottom line and burnish some cannabis companies’ reputations.

That’s because as businesses practice good citizenship, they can attract more customers and high-quality employees, according to industry executives and experts on corporate giving.

And, in the future, those companies could ultimately work better with regulators who might have taken note of their past contributions to their communities.

Cannabis companies are not the only businesses stepping up to the plate to formulate hand sanitizers.

Alcohol distilleries, for example, are producing hand sanitizers: Up to 75% of craft spirit producers are doing so currently, according to the American Craft Spirit Association.

Marijuana firms also are borrowing a page from other mainstream companies’ playbooks by pivoting to provide essential products for health workers. For example, global clothing retailer The Gap is making protective equipment such as masks for health workers.

Here are examples of cannabis businesses stepping up to help their communities during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • CannaCraft, a cannabis manufacturer in Santa Rosa, California, converted a portion of its production space to formulate and package individual bottles of sanitizer. “When we started hearing reports of a shortage in hand sanitizer, we knew that we could be of assistance without negatively impacting our employees or our operations,” CannaCraft CEO Jim Hourigan said. Ingredients were already on hand, and the company had some spare hand-pump bottles that were no longer usable for cannabis products because of packaging law changes. CannaCraft’s in-house chemists came up with a recipe and the company was able to utilize similar techniques and processes used for making topicals.
  • In Massachusetts, The Commonwealth Dispensary Association, which represents 36 marijuana companies statewide, said its members can now start producing hand sanitizer that will be donated to local hospitals.
  • Aloha Green Holdings in Honolulu, which owns cultivation, processing and retail facilities in Hawaii, said it is producing hand sanitizer for medical patients. The product is free to card-carrying medical marijuana patients at the company’s two dispensaries. Currently there’s a limit of one 1.7-ounce bottle per patient until production ramps up.
  • Canadian cannabis producer Organigram announced on Twitter that the company is donating 500 liters of ethanol from its New Brunswick production facility to be repurposed into hand sanitizer for the local health-care community.

Nick Thomas can be reached at

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.