Impact & ESG

As the cannabis industry matures, companies must begin incorporating formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs into their business models. Consumers and employees are looking to marijuana and hemp companies for action on issues such as sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and investors are increasingly seeking data on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts. Meanwhile, regulators are moving to require that non-financial ESG metrics be included in annual reporting to disclose material risks (and opportunities) to investors.

Companies that aggressively incorporate these principals into their core business practices gain market advantage and present better compared to the competition. They are better positioned for growth, attract and retain the best talent, and create evangelical customers and employees. They are also better insulated from negative externalities, such as shareholder resolutions and challenges, stakeholder criticism, community backlash, employee lawsuits, and are positioned to better weather crisis events.

The VS Impact and ESG practice is led by attorneys with deep experience in CSR, sustainability, and DEI, both within and outside the cannabis industry. We understand companies’ fundamental need to integrate these practices in strategic and authentic ways, and we have years of experience helping them do it. 


  • ESG screening and identification of gaps, risks, and opportunities

  • Development of internal and external Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) policies

  • DEI supply chain, vendors, recruitment and employment

  • Preparation of community engagement plans, Positive Impact Plans, and Social Impact Plans (SIP)

  • Strategic philanthropy plans

  • Benefit corporation establishment and certification

  • Establishment of corporate nonprofit organizations and foundations

  • Employee engagement surveying and planning

  • General CSR, ESG, and DEI operations consulting

  • Sustainability consulting and environmental compliance


  • Previously served as Director of Community Outreach/CSR at a top-tier multi-state operator (MSO)

  • Currently serve on the leadership team of the ESG Stewardship Committee at a leading national cannabis trade association
  • Created and analyzed company-wide employee engagement and satisfaction surveys for multiple, large multistate operators, establishing pillars for corporate giving and employee volunteerism, creating a baseline for employee satisfaction, and scoping strategic, foundational outreach programs

  • Helped obtain medical and adult-use cannabis business licenses in California, Missouri, and Utah by participating in and contributing to state license applications and interview processes

  • On behalf of a national MSO, directly engaged in community outreach efforts in multiple states, resulting in dozens of prospective partnerships with civic, political, community, and nonprofit leaders

  • Created formal Employee Volunteer Programs (EVP), including historic partnerships and volunteer opportunities with high-profile, national and local civic and nonprofit organizations

  • Advised MSOs on CSR and ESG strategy, identified relevant metrics around community and employee engagement activities and philanthropy programs, and established guidelines for impact reports

  • Developed sustainability and community engagement programs and oversaw sustainability and DEI benchmarking for an ancillary business

  • Facilitated multiple baseline assessments and workshops with executive leadership teams to assist in identifying and constructing a multi-stakeholder approach to CSR

  • Shepherded Vicente Sederberg LLP through B-Corp certification process

  • Counseled several non-profit organizations with regard to 501(c)(3) tax-exempt applications


Founding Partner


The ESG Threat by Shareholders and Proxy Challenges

By Marc Ross
Sep 7, 2022

Socially responsible investors and activist board members have been throwing their ESG weight around during the last few proxy seasons at annual shareholder meetings. They demand action on climate change, diverse boards and senior leadership, restrict campaign donations, divestment in specific industries, and request measurement, benchmarking, and reporting of comprehensive ESG impacts.

ABA Global Business of Cannabis Conference is Coming to Denver

Nov 9, 2021

The American Bar Association's International Law Section will host its first annual Global Business of Cannabis Conference in Denver, Colorado from November 10-12, 2021. Marc Ross is slated to join the panel "The Environmental Impact of Cannabis Cultivation: Does Legalization Make a Difference?"

[Webinar] Impact and ESG in the Cannabis Industry

Jun 15, 2021

Watch this recorded session to meet the new VS Impact & ESG team, learn more about this emerging business priority, and how to start planning and measuring your ESG practice – including Corporate Social Responsibility programs, meaningful Diversity, Equity & Inclusion efforts, environmental sustainability, and community and employee engagement.

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