Twenty years ago, Good Chemistry founder and CEO Matthew Huron watched the HIV/AIDS crisis ravage the San Francisco community. That’s when he learned how to cultivate medicinal-quality cannabis to help his father, his father’s partner and other members of the community who were suffering.
Watching the COVID-19 pandemic unfold now has brought memories back to the surface.
“As I watch the news coverage of the COVID-19 virus I’m reminded of what it was like growing up in a community ravaged by the fear and uncertainty and heartbreak of a deadly virus like HIV/AIDS or COVID-19,” Huron wrote in a letter to company employees on Friday.
With that letter to employees, Huron announced that Good Chemistry has made a $50,000 donation to the Worcester Together COVID-19 Relief Fund, which is hosted by the city, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, and United Way of Central Massachusetts. With the monetary contribution, Good Chemistry also donated N95 masks to the city, according to a statement.
Good Chemistry, which operates a co-located medical and adult-use marijuana dispensary on Harrison Street, has not been able to sell recreational marijuana since March 24 per an order by Gov. Charlie Baker banning non-essential business. Medical marijuana sales are considered essential.
The order has led to severe financial setbacks for marijuana companies across the state. Good Chemistry has had to “let employees go and reduce salaries” in the wake of the pandemic, according to the statement.
“I know that while this may be the toughest time for Good Chemistry to contribute, it is also the most important time to do it,” Huron wrote to employees.
The Worcester Together Fund was set up last month to help the community with both short-term and long-term needs relating to COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
“Good Chemistry’s generous donation to Worcester Together testifies to their commitment to our community and its people,” said Barbara Fields, President and CEO of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. “In our current challenges, Good Chemistry is setting an outstanding example of corporate civic leadership.”
Health care workers, shelters for the homeless population and others have struggled with a lack of protective equipment amid the pandemic. Good Chemistry said it took inventory of supplies at its garden and dispensary and found the N95 masks to donate to the city. Good Chemistry says it has provided its employees with cloth masks to keep the team and patients safe.
“The city greatly appreciates this generous donation from Good Chemistry Nurseries,” Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus Jr. said. “Our community and business partners are the lifeblood of the Worcester Together Fund, which is supporting so many important agencies and organizations in this time of need. On the heels of a previous donation of N95 masks to the City, we once again say thank you to Good Chemistry and its founder and CEO Matthew Huron for this gesture.”
Huron said he hoped to inspire other cannabis companies to give back during the crisis.
“I’m grateful for the ability to make these COVID-19 relief contributions. It is my hope and my belief that the funds will inspire others to give, bring relief to those in need and speed the recovery effort so we can return our lives and our business to where we were when this crisis began,” Huron said.
As of Thursday, Worcester Together has raised more than $4.2 million and has distributed 51 grants totaling $616,000, according to the city. Anyone who wants to donate can go online at worcesterma.gov/coronavirus or text worcestercovid19 to 243725.