Google Supports Medical Marijuana? It Appears To Be The Case.

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In a somewhat surprising move, Google decided to give a Michigan-based medical marijuana organization, Michigan Compassion, a $240,000 grant in AdWords money. The donation came in the form of a Google Grant, not cash, which is basically AdWords for non profits. AdWords are paid-for search terms a company or organization bids on in order to increase their favorable ranking in search results, or search engine optimization (SEO).

According to an article in the Daily Chronic, the award letter to Michigan Compassion stated they were the first medical marijuana organization to receive any sort of donation from Google. Prior to this donation, cannabis-related words didn’t show up in the AdWords application as an available term to bid on. Now that this has happened, though, they will only show up in states where marijuana is legal and not if safe search filters are on, according to an article in Opposing Views. According to the article, Michigan Compassion connects patients with marijuana growers, but does not directly sell marijuana.

Michigan Compassion’s mission statement is: “At Michigan Compassion we strive to increase awareness and understanding through education, information and advocacy of all the medical benefits and healing properties of cannabis.”

The Huffington Post recently published an article saying that while Google hadn’t donated to cannabis-related organizations before it is not uncommon for Silicon Valley companies to do so.

“They’re not the ones coming to the city council meetings to protest, but they quietly send in their donations,” attorney Lauren Vazquez was quoted as saying in the article. “And they’re definitely consuming the cannabis.”

James Campbell, board secretary of Michigan Compassion said in the Daily Chronic article, “We were very surprised to receive a personalized letter from Google, let alone its acknowledgement of Michigan Compassion as a medical marijuana non-profit and their support of this organization’s mission.”

In reading some of the comments people have made regarding this grant, I see that some people are concerned that if a company like Google wants to give money to medical marijuana organizations, it should be in cash or promoting free pot to people who can’t afford it otherwise. I am not sure these are useful arguments, as it is pretty clear to me that Google is taking a stand promoting use of cannabis for medical purposes. And a company like Google, which in 2013 was ranked the 73rd largest Fortune 500 company, has a lot of pull and sway in the world. Sure this doesn’t end the War on Drugs, but I would say it is a small step in the direction of a wider acceptance of medicinal use of marijuana.