SPARC, a California-based, vertically integrated cannabis operator, is rooted in compassion and giving back to its local community, according to Director of Strategy & Implementation Michael Bostarr.
This led the company to launch its Carts for a Cause program, which has supported awareness for breast cancer, LGBTQ issues and, now, Last Prisoner Project.
“We have our own product, and we wanted to … give back without necessarily placing the burden on the customer,” Bostarr told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary.
Instead of asking customers at its five dispensary locations to donate additional funds at the point of sale, SPARC donates a dollar for each Carts for a Cause cartridge sold to the applicable organization.
“You buy something and something good happens from your purchase,” Bostarr said. “They can make a purchase of a cannabis product and support a cause they care about all at the same time.”
The first cartridge in the program supported LGBTQ issues in San Francisco, and is still a popular product in SPARC’s dispensaries, Bostarr said.
“We’re a gay-owned company,” he said. “We care a lot about supporting pride and LGBTQ issues. That’s where it started, and we wanted to create it in a way that it could spread beyond just that.”
The company’s LGBTQ cartridge, Unicorn OG, is sativa-dominant with a fruity, tropical and citrusy terpene profile that launched in June 2019. A portion of sales supports the LGBTQ Connection of Napa and Sonoma Counties.
SPARC’s second Carts for a Cause release focused on breast cancer awareness after a member of the company’s team was diagnosed with breast cancer. That cartridge, called Harvest Apple, is sativa-dominant with a cinnamon, apple and honey terpene profile that launched in October 2019. A portion of each sale supported Living Beyond Breast Cancer, which helped SPARC’s employee in her battle with the disease.
Now, with the rise in awareness surrounding police reform and criminal justice, SPARC will launch its Last Prisoner Project cartridge in August.
“Last Prisoner Project is really leading the charge right now in terms of cannabis nonprofits go for fighting a cause that is pretty objectively worth fighting for,” Bostarr said. “We thought this was an opportunity both to engage in the dialogue and show our support for the work Last Prisoner Project is doing, and give that platform for our customers who may want to support that effort without making a tremendous change to their everyday habits.”
Last Prisoner Project aims to ensure there are no more prisoners for non-violent cannabis crimes as more states legalize.
“It makes less and less sense that anyone would be serving a sentence for a crime that is now considered legal,” Bostarr said. “Their focus is really on criminal justice reform initiatives, prisoner release, record clearing through clemency and expungement, and then reentry programs.”
SPARC is looking at ways to help other organizations through its Carts for a Cause program, as well, and has
planned out other causes and new cartridge releases for the future.
“We like to stand for something, and these carts give us a way to show what we’re about to the public,” Bostarr said.
The company’s compassionate roots go back to its founder, Erich Pearson, who launched Maitri AIDS Hospice, a free compassion program in San Francisco that still delivers twice a month to patients, Bostarr added.
“Our roots are really giving back to the community and supporting the local community with cannabis products,” he said. “We see Carts for a Cause as something we want to continue doing for years and years as a modern way of continuing that tradition of giving back and continuing compassion when it comes to cannabis.”