Should state agencies accept donations of food, toys from cannab - KPTV - FOX 12

Should state agencies accept donations of food, toys from cannabis groups?

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As Oregon adopts policies around legal marijuana, a new question has surfaced: should state agencies accept charitable donations of things like toys, clothes and food from cannabis-based groups?

It’s a question that came to a head when the Eugene-based organization Women Leaders in Cannabis wanted to put Thanksgiving food baskets together for families in need and worked with the Oregon Department of Human Services to identify which families would be best served.

“We had discussed it at length,” said Lindsey Jacobsen with Women Leaders in Cannabis.  “But a few days later she called me back and said no, due to too much time being spent on it they would not be able to work with us.”

She suspected the real reason was the connection to marijuana, and later learned she was right.

“I found that really unfortunate,” she added.  “We’d been reaching out to multiple places trying to find somebody to work this.”

DHS spokesperson Gene Evans said it was a decision made by the local office in Eugene, which was afraid that accepting the donation would give the appearance of endorsing marijuana – even though the food baskets didn’t contain any.

“It’s the state that is issuing the licenses, it is the state that’s issuing the patient cards, the grower cards,” Jacobsen added.  “So they’re already involved with it and I don’t see how getting more involved in a positive fashion could really do any damage.”

But Evans said it’s a sensitive issue because many of the families DHS serve struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.

“The number one reason kids end up in foster care is because of drug and alcohol abuse by their parents,” Evans said, adding that baskets sponsored by alcohol companies would be treated the same way.

“I think as long as there’s no cannabis-related items that are in the baskets, I see there’s no harm,” said Brad Zusman of Canna-Daddys Wellness Center on SE Division and 169th. 

Zusman has given collected charitable donations of food, toys and clothes for shelters, churches and schools in the community in the past – at one point even placing collection bins inside his dispensary.

“We’ve had no feedback as in we don’t want the donations,” he said.  “Everybody’s been open arms to accept it.”

But he believes there will be some hesitance from state and government agencies until marijuana becomes completely accepted as a legitimate business in Oregon.

Women Leaders In Cannabis found another community group to give the food baskets to, and will be delivering them next week.

“We’re hoping in the future that as the stigma begins to release they’ll allow us to give back to the community,” Jacobsen added.  “We are just like everybody else, we have families, we have jobs, we do something we’re passionate about every day.  And if we have the ability to share with other people, I don’t see why that can’t take place.”

DHS is asking the Department of Administrative Services to put together some guidance on the issue as to what state policy on the matter should be.

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