The topic of marijuana or cannabis is one discussed in hush tones and generally considered taboo in many of the countries today. Although evidence points to its use starting 2,500 years ago, a majority of countries are still divided on the legality of its recreational use. Notwithstanding the general disdain with which it is perceived by communities worldwide, the psychoactive drug has found use in traditional as well as modern medicine.
Vicente Sederberg LLP (VS), a leading cannabis law firm based in the United States, has announced its plans to form an Environmental, Societal, and Governance (ESG) practice revolving around marijuana and hemp industries. Although the industry is in its nascent stages, a head starts in ESG issues will prove valuable in the future.
ESG has become a priority for all businesses as stakeholders and potential investors are increasingly focused on such metrics before concluding any potential deals. Vicente Sederberg wants to shape the booming marijuana and hemp sectors into leaders of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Commenting on the development, Kim Napoli, VS Counsel and Director of DEI said that the market is ripe for the taking, and with potential investors teeming the waters, it was important for burgeoning sectors like cannabis industry to prioritize ESG, CSR, and DEI issues. “It is critical that companies recognize and engage on the social, racial, and criminal justice issues that are historically and inextricably tied to cannabis,” she added.
The cannabis industry has had to contend with prejudice and contempt from sections of society as it fought to gain legal status as a recognized industry. In order to overturn and repair the damages caused by decades of prohibition, the industry will need to get its ducks in a row. ESG and CSR initiatives are a great way to address past issues and improve existing conditions for the sector’s future. It is akin to killing two birds with one stone.
Through its CSR programs, VS has championed the cause for the cannabis industry and is even involved in the drug policy reform movement. Last year, it partnered with Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) and established the Vicente Sederberg Economic Empowerment Scholarship Fund.
Marc Ross, counsel and head of impact and ESG, VS, could not have put it any better. “Social and environmental concerns often get pushed to the back burner, especially in a nascent and rapidly growing industry where many companies are still struggling to get a foothold.” His firm’s commitment to prioritizing ESG and CSR issues from the outset bodes well for the budding industry.