As marijuana businesses continue to assimilate into America’s traditional corporate world, philanthropy and responsibility have become key initiatives for some ganjapreneurs
While most Americans in the 1980s learned about AIDS on television news years after it erupted into a legitimate epidemic, Matthew Huron saw the virus on the faces of his friends and family while growing up in San Francisco’s vibrant Castro neighborhood.
“A lot of those men there were very sick and dying, and that included my father and his partner and all of their friends,” Huron said. “Every week my dad was going to another funeral, and it was just a really challenging time.”
It wasn’t long before Huron was that socially conscious teenager volunteering at an AIDS hospice in the heart of the Castro. Philanthropy was important to his father, and so it was also important to son. And as Huron grew up and started noticing how cannabis was helping his friends and family living with the disease — restoring appetites, diminishing pain, remedying nausea and generally treating the patients’ wasting syndrome — he opened a medical marijuana co-op in 2000.
“The fundamental reason we started that co-op was to give, not sell, medical marijuana to sick men dying from AIDS,” said Huron. “That’s what we did. We delivered to a variety of hospice care and assisted living facilities around San Francisco.”
Huron’s involvement in cannabis these days is more official. But the CEO of Good Chemistry Nurseries’ cannabis businesses in Colorado and Nevada is still donating medical marijuana (and leafy-green cash, as well) to those in need.
The Ally Award video tribute to Matthew Huron
He donates to One Colorado to support their political work on behalf of the LGBTQ community; In 2016, the organization bestowed upon Huron an Ally Award. He assembles a team for, and sponsors, the AIDS Walk every year. He donates to Urban Peak, a nonprofit fighting homelessness, as well as the Denver Police Brotherhood, the Comitis Crisis Center of Aurora and the Harm Reduction Action Center.
To boot, Good Chemistry’s Compassion Program is a direct descendant of the co-op he started more than 16 years ago.
“We’re one of the only dispensaries in Denver that has an organized and internal compassion program, which gives free and low-cost medicine to low-income and terminally ill patients,” Huron said. “My father passed away in July of ’09 (to complications from AIDS), and I moved the business here in December ’09 … It was important to me and to his legacy, and it was why I got into this industry in the first place — to continue the Compassion Program.”
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