As war wages in Ukraine, cannabis industry businesses across the United States are doing their part to help those caught in the ravages of the conflict. Russia invaded its smaller neighbor Ukraine on February 24 after massing on the border between the two nations for months, leading to a humanitarian crisis.
In California, San Francisco’s MediThrive dispensary is raising funds to donate to the Sunflower of Peace, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit working to support the Ukrainian people in the midst of the Russian invasion. MediThrive CEO Misha Breyburg is a Ukrainian Jewish refugee who immigrated from Odessa, Ukraine to the United States as a child in the 1970s.
“This hits especially close to home, especially for Jewish Ukrainians,” he told the Jewish News of Northern California. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something.”
To show his support for the people of Ukraine, Breyburg had the dispensary storefront in the Mission District painted blue and yellow, the colors of the Ukrainian national flag. The business is also donating the proceeds of all cannabis sales made on March 6 to Sunflower of Peace, whose fundraising efforts are providing medical and humanitarian aid to those affected by the war in Ukraine.
“While many charitable efforts focus on providing Ukraine with food and military aid, the medical professionals responding to the crisis in Ukraine struggle to treat the wounded and sick,” MediThrive said in a statement. “They require more medical and survival supplies.”
MediThrive will also donate 10 percent of cannabis sales through March 13 to Sunflower of Peace, which incorporates the Ukrainian national flower into its name and logo. On Monday, Breyburg said the drive had already raised “in the high five figures.”
“It felt pretty incredible,” he said.
Sunflower of Peace was founded in 2014 with a mission to mobilize support and aid for Ukrainian orphans and internally displaced persons. After the coronavirus pandemic took hold of Europe and the rest of the world, the organization turned its focus to Ukrainians most impacted by COVID-19. And following the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces launched last month, Sunflower of Peace has again pivoted to put its efforts where they are needed most.
“Due to the current crisis in Ukraine, Sunflower of Peace started a new fundraiser to provide medical and humanitarian aid that will be used by the paramedics and doctors in the areas that are affected by the violence in Ukraine,” the group writes on its website. “We are acquiring and distributing first-aid backpacks, medicine, medical instruments and other means of survival that are saving hundreds of lives. These supplies meant the world to people affected by violence when we started our first fundraiser in 2015, and they mean the world to all Ukrainians now.”
Pot and Pierogies in Detroit
In Detroit, cannabis dispensary and cultivation center Luxury Loud is teaming up with Srodek’s Quality Polish Food for a Pot and Pierogies fundraiser for Ukraine. Luxury Loud will donate 100 percent of its sales on March 13 to UNICEF for the children of Ukraine, while Srodek’s food truck was offering complimentary pierogies and kielbasa for a donation.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is also personal for principals at Luxury Loud. Grower and engineering manager Marko Malinowski and his brother Christian Malinowski, one of the partners in the business, are Ukrainian Americans who are well-known in Detroit’s Ukrainian community.
“It’s a little more unique,” Malinowski told the Detroit Free Press. “Pot and Pierogi kind of catches people’s attention for some reason, and they do go well together actually.”
Cannabis public relations firm Mattio Communications is also raising funds for Ukraine by matching donations to one of several organizations working to secure the safety and security of Ukrainians. The company will match donations through a campaign on social media announced last week.
“As we watch in horror as violence and heartbreak spreads through Ukraine, the need for action has never been greater,” the company wrote in a statement to High Times. “The Mattio Communications team will be matching all donations made to the United Nations Refugee Agency, Kyiv Independent, Voices of Children, Amnesty International and CARE Ukraine Crisis Fund up to $3,000. Simply make your donation, and send a screenshot to @MattioCommuncations on Instagram.”
A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based freelance writer covering cannabis news, business, and culture.