By Joe Vaccarelli, The Denver Post

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‘I think philanthropy is what responsible businesses do. It’s not a choice so much as the next logical step,’ says Colorado Harvest Company’s Tim Cullen

Tim Cullen ran into an unexpected obstacle recently when he decided it was time his cannabis business should start donating money to nonprofit organizations.

“I have been shocked at how few places will take our money,” said Cullen, CEO of the Colorado Harvest Company chain of shops and a shareholder with O.penVape, a company that makes vape pens.

But then Levitt Pavilion Denver came calling. O.penVape and Colorado Harvest Company together donated $250,000, becoming the largest private donors of a project to build an amphitheater in Ruby Hill Park in southwest Denver that will host 50 free concerts each summer among several other events.

Philanthropy is something a number of marijuana businesses have begun to explore as profits roll in, but Cullen is not the only one who has faced difficulty in finding a group that will accept cannabis-funded donations.

However, giving back remains important to many in the cannabis industry.

“I think philanthropy is what responsible businesses do. It’s not a choice so much as the next logical step,” Cullen said.

Finding the right fit

In the three years since recreational marijuana sales started in Colorado, some nonprofits have decided not to accept money from marijuana organizations for various reasons, whether it’s the fear of losing nonprofit status or because they receive federal funding or the cannabis industry doesn’t align with their organizational goals.

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