News

OCS announces inaugural Social Impact Fund community partnerships

November 28, 2023 (TORONTO) – Building on its commitment to prioritize social responsibility as it enables Canada’s largest and most vibrant cannabis marketplace, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) announced today the first partner projects selected to receive funding as part of its inaugural Social Impact Fund (the Fund). This year’s recipients are:

  • Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation
  • The Cannabis Social Equity and Equality Development (S.E.E.D.) Initiative
  • Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • University of Calgary
  • Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • McMaster University

The Fund, first introduced with a call for applications in April 2023, exists to establish meaningful community partnerships that bridge gaps in knowledge, create shared social value and mobilize positive change related to cannabis in Ontario and beyond. In this pilot year, OCS has allocated $500,000 to support programs, services and research by incorporated not-for-profits, registered charitable organizations and researchers affiliated with academic or research institutions that contribute positively to the Ontario public and legal cannabis industry.

Selected partner projects and associated funding streams strategically align with OCS’s three pillars of social responsibility:

  • Establishing a foundation for environmental sustainability
  • Supporting a diverse and inclusive industry
  • Advancing cannabis knowledge and promoting responsible consumption

This year’s projects range from studies on the physical health impacts of cannabis exposure, to digital storytelling about cannabis harm reduction, to cannabis workforce empowerment programs and more.

Additional information about the Fund, each of this year’s inaugural community partnership projects and key details related to OCS’s 2024 call for Fund applications is available at OCS.ca/SocialImpactFund.

Quotes:

“Today is an exciting day as we launch the Social Impact Fund’s inaugural community partnership projects. OCS is committed to championing a socially responsible cannabis industry and proud to support initiatives like these that help foster our vision of enabling Canada’s largest and most vibrant cannabis marketplace.”

— Tanya Watkins, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Social Responsibility & Strategic Engagement, OCS

“We are thrilled to introduce the inaugural Social Impact Fund project teams, and look forward to supporting this important work over the next year. The Social Impact Fund is part of our continued commitment to making a positive impact in Ontario and beyond, and will provide a growing opportunity to invest in programming and research that aligns with OCS’s social responsibility objectives.”

— Dr. Jenna Valleriani, Senior Manager, Social Responsibility, OCS

“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our work in support of more equitable cannabis policies in Canada and commend OCS for championing social responsibility and driving progress in Canada’s cannabis industry. Together, we will examine approaches for strengthening inclusion and diversity in Ontario’s cannabis industry, particularly for underrepresented racial groups adversely affected by cannabis prohibition, to inform Ontario’s cannabis retail sector and efforts to redress harms from cannabis prohibition.”

— Dr. Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Racial Equity Lead, Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation

“The legalization of cannabis in Canada has spawned inspiring stories of both local and global impact. The S.E.E.D. Initiative is our chance to write more of these stories, especially from marginalized communities. S.E.E.D. is not just a platform; it's our commitment to building a pipeline of success by minimizing the obstacles that hinder progress. Together, let’s lift as we climb.”

— Michael Athill, Director, Cannabis Social Equity and Equality Development (S.E.E.D.) Initiative

“We are honored to receive this grant from the OCS’s Social Impact Fund, enabling us to explore whether there is a link between cannabis use and prostate cancer. This project promises to enhance patient education and policy on cancer prevention, highlighting our commitment to socially responsible choices in health care.”

— Dr. Tara Rosewall, Clinician Investigator, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

“We are very excited to receive support from OCS for a project that focuses on cannabis harm reduction for young adults. It’s critical that we listen to the voices of young people, and digital stories are the ideal format to empower participants for sharing their experiences and perspectives on reducing cannabis harms.”

— Dr. Rebecca Haines-Saah, Associate Professor, University of Calgary

“The CSSDP Get Sensible team is thrilled to actively collaborate with the young people in Ontario with support from the OCS’s Social Impact Fund. Through our involvement in cannabis education initiatives with young individuals, our goal is to enhance awareness and knowledge about cannabis for all the youth in Ontario.”

— Kiah Ellis-Durity and Heath D’Alessio, Project Co-Leads, Get Sensible, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP)

“We are honoured and thrilled that with funding from the OCS, we can continue our work together aimed at providing trauma-informed, non-judgement education and support to pregnant and birthing people who consume cannabis.”

— Gabrielle Griffith, Full Spectrum Doula, Sex Educator and Mental Health Support Worker and Dr. Saara Greene, Professor, School of Social Work, McMaster University.


About the OCS

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) operates the largest legal and centralized wholesale cannabis organization in the world. We provide Ontario adults aged 19 and older with safe access to tested and traceable recreational cannabis products. As a Crown agency solely owned by the Province of Ontario, the OCS is mandated to provide a competitive alternative to the illegal market, champion a socially responsible cannabis industry and return its profits to the people of Ontario. Our mission is to enable a vibrant cannabis marketplace through great customer experiences, rooted in selection, service and quality. For more information, visit OCS.ca and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Media Contact

OCS Communications, communications@ocs.ca

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