Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice: A Survey of Cannabis Business Practices in North-East USA and Canada
8 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2021
Date Written: July 1, 2021
This study sought to understand linkages in the U.S. regulated cannabis industry between awareness of Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR), meaning a business’s responsibility to improve their environmental and social footprint, and actual behavior in business practices and operations. To answer this question, we developed a survey with questions that were written to elicit feedback regarding how much respondents contemplated CSR and what actions they took.
Researchers distributed the survey across multiple channels to engage a range of actors in the cannabis industry, particularly those involved in cultivation and processing of cannabis products in the regulated market in US states. The survey was open from September 2020 to July 2021.
Our results showed that while the majority of respondents are familiar with CSR, less than half have made formal commitments to actions to improve their environmental and social behaviors. Of the 40% of companies that have made a formal commitment to CSR, respondents said that they have revised their standard operating procedures to be more water and energy efficient; donated, joined, or partnered with programs that work on racial and social justice in cannabis; used only organic processes and procedures in their cultivation practices; or invested in resource-saving technologies.
Our findings suggest that there is a strong correlation between a respondent’s understanding of CSR and actions they took to reduce their environmental footprint and/or address social justice concerns. If stakeholders wish to see cannabis businesses take additional actions to address environmental and social concerns, the study authors recommend that policymakers or advocates work to expand awareness around CSR, particularly around standard operating procedures and technologies for energy conservation and opportunities to improve social justice.
Keywords: Sustainability, Social Justice
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