Really-high ropes courses and other uses of legal marijuana in the nonprofit sector


Cookies shaped like marijuana leafs are pictured at the Cannabis Carnivalus 4/20 event in SeattleHi everyone. Before we launch into today’s topic, I want to invite you to Rainier Valley Corps’s open house this Wednesday evening, July 9th from 6pm to 8pm. If you’re in Seattle, come on by and learn about the project. And I’d love to meet you. Details at


Every week, when I publish a new post, inevitably two to five readers will unsubscribe their email from this blog, probably in protest against something I said (“How DARE you disparage hipsters blah blah you’re just jealous because your fat vegan legs don’t look good in skinny jeans blah blah scientific studies show that wearing skinny jeans for just two hours a day can vastly improve fertility rates blah blah you and your blog suck, etc.”) It’s OK, because new readers subscribe, so there is usually a net gain.

As a warning, this week’s topic may be sensitive to some readers, because, dude, recreational marijuana will be available for sale in Washington State this Tuesday! For some, it is the end of the world. But for others, it’ll be like Black Friday, where you wake up extra early, grab an empty Snapple bottle, wait in line for hours, and then shove aside the weak and elderly to get your hands on that sweet, sweet 32GB flash drive for $5.99. Except replace “32GB flash drive” with “legal weed” and “$5.99” with “about $400 per ounce.”

Now, whether you support or oppose legalizing pot, the fact is that the tides are turning, and pot use will grow and affect the way we do our work in the nonprofit sector. Just think of Prohibition, when alcohol was illegal and people made moonshine in the woods using pine cones and corn husks, and…uh…they used carrier possums to relay messages and elude law enforcement. I may need to brush up on US History. Point is, there was a time when alcohol was illegal, and now look, booze is everywhere. Imagine an annual dinner without wine. That’s like a retreat without easel paper. Or a staff performance evaluation without tears.

So, we need to start thinking of what this means for our sector, and how we can make use of it to make the world better. Like we do with alcohol. Here are some predictions I’m making of things that are on the highrizon:

    • Happier Hours: Approximately 10% of our work gets done at bars during happy hour, when everyone is relaxed and can discuss strategic plans and stuff. With legalized Mary Jane will come Happier Hours, which are just like the happy hour, but you’re even more happy and relaxed. Unlike happy hours, though, food at happier hours will cost double.
    • Really-High Ropes Courses: Enterprising teambuilding firms and consultants will offer retreats that feature reefer. Through a series of games and activities, team members will get to know each other’s leadership and communication styles. “Dude…you totally are, like, the best board chair ever. You’re a phoenix. I love you.”
    • BYOW (Bring Your Own Weed) events: Kind of like brown-bag lunches, but probably won’t take place at lunch. You bring your own Scally Wag, smoke up, and listen to a lecture on collective impact, or engage in a discussion about theories of change, or just listen to some music, like the Colorado Symphony’s “Classically Cannabis” event.
    • Weed and Cheetos: Fundraising will take creative turns. The “Weed and Cheetos” event is a take on the classic “Wine and cheese” event. Participants will dress up in elegant evening clothing, partake in samplings of exotic strains of skunk, from Yellow Amnesia to Fire Alien Strawberry to Belyando Spruce to Hawaiian Maui Wowie, while nibbling on Cheetos, all for a good cause.
    • Ganja baskets: Fundraising events always have baskets of wine as silent auction items. And why not, they’re awesome and so classy. Well, now we will have hooch baskets filled with different types of wacky tabacky, along with rolling paper, handcrafted bongs, and Oreos.
    • Magic Brownies: Clever nonprofits can raise money for their mission by selling magic baked goods as an earned-income strategy. They can also hold workshops that teach people how to infuse butter and make their own yummy creations at home.
    • Auctions: Finally, there will be special auctions that offer free Devil’s Lettuce at the entrance. All the guests smoke up at the beginning. There will be no dinner served, just unlimited Bruce Banner. Then, when all in the room are giggling, the auction begins: “Next up, we have this beautiful 13-oz bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. We’ll start the bidding at $1,000…”

What other changes do you think will happen in our field with the legalization of weed? Write your thoughts in the comment section. And can someone bring me some Oreos? Did you know Oreos are vegan? I love you guys.

Read this related stuff: “Work styles: Are you a Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix, or Lion-Turtle.”

  • Janelle

    I am laughing so hard, I am in tears at my desk. And the only stimulant I have had today is coffee. Well done, Vu. Well done.

    • Thanks, Janelle. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out in Seattle.

  • Lorraine Thomas

    I totally got a contact high just reading that post.

    • I got a contact high just reading your comment 🙂

  • There’s been some glitches in the commenting system. For some reason, this comment, from Nanalettie, refuses to show up. I’ve pasted it below. Please email me at if your comment won’t show up:
    From Nanalettie:

    Alas, those of us who neither drink nor partake of the funny flora will be left even further behind. I haven’t been to a happy hour in years: tonic and lime just isn’t the same without the Sapphire.

    No, wait! I remember being one of the few sober individuals at a fundraising event for my agency! I started auctioning off the chairs and the silverware! It was all for a good cause, and everyone forgot to take their items (even more so than is typical) and it turned out to be the best fundraising strategy ever.

    And just think, with Mary Whosit, the tradition of having that one undesirable item in the dessert dash, often a plate of Twinkies or Ding Dongs, will take on new urgency, as everyone donates far more than their budgets allow just to win first chance at those luscious, creamy, sweet, melt in your mouth, morsels of magnificance. Ohhh my gaaawd.

    • Nanalettie, that’s very enterprising and clever, to find ways to fundraise with the unwanted items.