Ontario Cannabis Store launches Social Impact Fund

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The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) has launched a Social Impact Fund to address some of the outstanding issues in the industry associated with environmental sustainability and diversity, among other things.

The OCS, which is owned by the Ontario government, says the new pilot funding is an opportunity to support projects and research promoting social responsibility “and benefits Ontarians in a positive way.”

Social equity is an issue critics say Canada has broadly failed to address in a meaningful way since the country legalized cannabis in 2018.

For instance, the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, part of the University of Toronto, found that Black and Indigenous people and women were vastly underrepresented in certain quarters of the Canadian cannabis industry.

The OCS is inviting not-for-profits, charitable organizations and research teams affiliated with academic institutions to apply for funding.

The organization has set aside up to 500,000 Canadian dollars ($374,000) for the initial year.

The application window will remain open only until May 25, the OCS said.

The Social Impact Fund includes funding streams for:

  • Environmental sustainability.
  • Supporting a diverse and inclusive cannabis industry in Ontario.
  • Advancing cannabis knowledge and promoting responsible consumption.

“The Social Impact Fund is part of our commitment to champion a socially responsible cannabis industry by investing in education, research and initiatives,” OCS Chief Executive David Lobo said in an April news release announcing the project.

“The launch of the Social Impact Fund is an opportunity to support and amplify the work that many community organizations and researchers are leading related to cannabis, and we’re looking forward to enabling more of that work across Ontario.”