To take advantage of LGBTQ Pride Month, cannabis retailers are running product promotions tied to the celebration, selling Pride-themed marijuana strains and hanging rainbow flags in their stores to show their support.
Business owners who opt to make efforts in the name of diversity and inclusivity have reported better employee retention, better community relations and increased social media engagement.
Some employers have attributed efforts on behalf of social equity to higher profits overall.
“Diversity is important for both how you’re working as a company and how you’re communicating out to consumers,” said Cassie Perlman, senior vice president of marketing and ecommerce at Papa & Barkley, a Humboldt County, California-based producer of cannabis-infused topicals, concentrates and edibles.
“Every marketer should know that your consumer base is getting more and more diverse.”
Social issues are top of mind with younger consumers in particular, Perlman said.
“So, if you’re not at the forefront of showcasing that your company thinks through their values, their social values, political, etc., then you’re kind of ignoring a large part of your consumer base,” she added.
Some cannabis companies have opted to make donations to LGBTQ charities in tandem with the release of Pride-themed products.
For example, Little Rock, Arkansas-based cannabis producer Good Day Farm has released a Pride-themed strain and pledged $10,000 from the proceeds to LGBTQ charities in Arkansas and Missouri.
The strain is aptly named Rainbow Sprinkles, and Laurie Gregory, chief marketing officer for Good Day Farm, said the product launch has been a success.
“We have had a very positive response from our employees, dispensary partners and our patients. Everyone loves Rainbow Sprinkles,” Gregory said.
“Additionally, Rainbow Sprinkles has been very well received on social media. Our customers are happy to see that our values align with theirs and that we care about the LGBTQ community.”
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New York-based medical marijuana provider Etain Health has released a rainbow vape pen battery and pledged 20% of the profits to a local health care center for LGBTQ people.
“Everything we’ve heard so far from our patients is very positive,” said Hillary Peckham, Etain’s chief operating officer.
“Because the battery is reusable, our patients will be able to communicate their support for Pride all year round, and not just in June.”
Papa & Barkley has also pledged 1% of all online sales in June to Colors Youth, a California-based organization that provides free mental health care to LGBTQ people younger than 25.
Running a sale or carrying Pride products won’t necessarily yield an increase in sales volume.
But business owners such as Bob Ramstad, owner of Seattle-based cannabis retail shop OZ. Cannabis, said he received positive feedback from customers and employees as a result of promoting diversity.
“We definitely had customers who asked about products that had Pride-related packaging and were positive about the overall concept about having a portion of the proceeds go to a LGBTQ-friendly charity,” Ramstad said.
“Our staff is super diverse, and everyone is totally comfortable. As the purchaser and owner, I am absolutely 100% an ally for these causes.”
Larry Doyle, the owner of Euphoria Wellness, a Las Vegas dispensary, runs LGBTQ Pride promotions every June with special sales and community events.
“The immediate response is just community goodwill, not a whole lot of revenue,” Doyle said. “But in the long term, I think it’s a good thing for any business to do.”
There is no shortage of efforts like these being made all across the country.
A brief list of notable LGBTQ products being released includes:
- The Botanist: Pride Medley gummies.
- Curaleaf: Pride Pre-Rolls.
- Etain Health: Limited Edition Pride Battery.
- Good Day Farm (in Arkansas and Missouri): Rainbow Sprinkles flower/vape pod.
- Jetty Extracts: Reckless Rainbow High THC Cartridge.
- Levia: Special edition Pride cannabis seltzer.
- Rythm: Strainbow Battery/Strainbow Pax Pod.
- Select Cliq: Pride Batteries.
Diversity in hiring
According to business leaders, intentionally hiring diverse candidates such as LGBTQ staffers can help improve employer/employee relations and lead to better employee retention.
“Being known as a company that’s welcoming for all, I think this can only help in terms of recruiting and having people be really loyal to the company,” Papa & Barkley’s Perlman said.
“There’s lots of opportunities for your employees these days. And if they don’t think your company supports their values, they’re not going to stay with you in the long run.”
For perspective, in a 2021 survey by Vangst, a leading cannabis hiring platform, 14% of workers in the industry identified as LGBTQ.
Ellen Rosenfeld, owner of CommCan, a Massachusetts-based cannabis retailer, said her employee retention has been phenomenal because she has built a reputation as an LGBTQ-friendly employer.
“We get people that come to us for that reason, which honestly blows my mind, they will leave other cannabis companies, specifically because they want to work for a gay-owned company,” Rosenfeld said.
“You get good employees that want to work for you and stay, your bottom line improves, right?”
Patrick Maravelias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.