One public school district in Oklahoma recently turned down a monetary donation from a cannabis dispensary, claiming it was too risky to accept.
According to News 4 in Oklahoma, Flippin Farms, a cultivation chain with four locations, tried to donate money to Ponca City Public Schools, but the donation was rejected.
“We’re here to help not only our patients, but we also want to give back to the local community—they support us,” said Corey Fisher, part-owner of the dispensary, to News 4. “Our schools are underfunded; they have programs that are cut annually. Our salaries for our teachers is amongst the lowest in the country.”
In response, upon rejecting the donation, Ponca City Schools Superintendent Shelly Arrott said, “The Ponca City Schools appreciates the generous offer made from Flippin Farms; however, accepting donations from a medical marijuana dispensary is uncharted territory for Oklahoma school districts in relation to federal funding sources. At this time, the district cannot risk compromising these funding sources which are relied on heavily for the education of students. In the future, we would certainly appreciate the opportunity to work with Mr. Flippin to accept donations to help our students if it will not in any way jeopardize district revenue sources.”
However, legally speaking, the Oklahoma State Department of Education claims that it’s perfectly legal for school districts to accept monetary donations from cannabis companies as long as they are legal and compliant. A different school already took money legally from a dispensary, and tax money for schools comes from the cannabis industry.
“If it’s ok for them to take tax money from this industry, why not be able to take money straight from this industry?” Fisher said. “We were just kind of confused and alarmed that in a school district that is constantly underfunded, we’re willing to walk in there, and hey, I can write you a personal check even, and they just declined.”
Unfortunately, as good as intentions are, there is still a major stigma attached to the cannabis industry. However, tax money is coming from the industry to fund schools at a high rate across the country, and more schools are accepting cannabis and beginning research at a higher education level. As the industry keeps growing, it will incur more and more respect.