Originally Published on Dopemagazine.com
By Kelly Vo | March 5, 2018
Cannabis and church: not two items that typically go together. But, in Denver, Amazing Grace Community Church and Lightshade dispensary are working to change that. In December, as part of Lightshade’s corporate and local-level giving initiatives, the dispensary’s Federal Heights location partnered with neighboring Amazing Grace Community Church to give food to people in need.
Cannabis and church: not two items that typically go together. But, in Denver, Amazing Grace Community Church and Lightshade dispensary are working to change that.
In December, as part of Lightshade’s corporate and local-level giving initiatives, the dispensary’s Federal Heights location partnered with neighboring Amazing Grace Community Church to give food to people in need. To do this, Lightshade supported the church’s food pantry as well as its bi-monthly meal service through financial contributions and volunteer hours. And starting in January, Lightshade agreed to fully fund the church’s food bank.
It’s what most would consider an unlikely partnership, but one that is making a big difference in the Federal Heights community. It’s also a partnership that makes sense for both Amazing Grace Community Church and Lightshade.
It all started in 2011 with the creation of the Pastor’s Pantry as a way for Amazing Grace Community Church to help out local neighbors that needed food. From there, it quickly evolved into offering hot meals for free and, under its new name Dinner for a Dollar, feeds as many as 150 people each night.
However, its quick growth meant that it needed help, and that’s where Lightshade came in.
“Our friends at Lightshade found out about these programs and sent representatives to a meal. An immediate partnership was forged, and Lightshade began to donate a portion of their profits to feed the hungry of the community,” explained Pastor Kent Replogle. “But their support did not stop there. Employees of Lightshade have come to the Dinner for a Dollar to serve and meet those that show up for dinner. These are people that really care about the community and once they have witnessed the need are willing to jump in and help out.”
However, that didn’t mean it was always an easy partnership. At first, the church and Pastor Kent were hesitant about accepting donations from a cannabis organization. But they quickly realized that accepting help from the cannabis industry wasn’t any different from accepting donations from a bar owner or an employee selling tobacco products. So, in the end, any concern was mitigated, especially after meeting and working with Lightshade.
“The donations from Lightshade are coming from a place of care and concern for those that are in need, and we have never been asked to publicize their donation from the pulpit of the church,” Pastor Kent said. “Lightshade filled a huge gap in our ability to serve those that are hungry. It takes over a thousand pounds of food a day to fill the hunger needs of this community, and the ability to get a sustainable food source is always a challenge. Through the gifts from Lightshade, we are coming closer to meeting those needs.”
As for Lightshade, working with Amazing Grace Community Church was a natural fit. They found the church through their partnership with kindColorado, an organization that connects communities and cannabis businesses to give back. Lightshade’s goal was to partner with a non-profit focused on hunger relief and who was ingrained in the community.
“Amazing Grace checked the boxes and had little to no reservations about working with a business in the cannabis industry,” said Shannon Brooks, the VP of Marketing for Lightshade. “Pastor Kent is a kind and generous man, and a sincere pleasure to work with. He has accepted us with open arms and without judgment.” So far, it’s been an incredible partnership. Beyond regular donations and volunteer hours, Lightshade teamed up with Amazing Grace Community Church to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need. And that’s just the start of how Lightshade makes a difference in their communities.
Giving back is a huge part of the Lightshade culture. They were the first Colorado dispensary to institute a Cannabis Social Responsibility program that looks for local initiatives to support, and they take their responsibilities seriously.
Lightshade has an ongoing partnership with The Gathering Place, a daytime drop-in center in Denver service women, children, and transgender individuals who experience extreme poverty or homelessness. Each month, Lightshade volunteers to pay for, serve, and clean up lunch for their members. They also work with their career center to help match members with open job positions within the cannabis industry. They’re also a major donor for The Gathering Place’s annual fundraiser.
In addition, Lightshade works with Grant Street Reach, Senior Support Services, Denver Urban Gardens, and Colorado Homeless Families. For each organization, Lightshade offers their time and funds to make a difference.
“We feel that it is our duty to give back to the communities who have been so kind to allow us to conduct business as their neighbors,” Shannon explained. “We feel that it is important to be an integral part of the communities that we serve and to help elevate the collective good of its residents. We have skin in the game. In addition, we want to instill a spirit of giving in our employees by creating opportunities for them to engage in charitable work.”
So, while it might seem that a church and the cannabis industry have little in common, when it comes to helping those in need, they’re on the same page. “Taking care of our communities is very much a part of the cannabis culture,” said Shannon.