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May 24, 2017; Albuquerque Business First

The Verdes Foundation, a nonprofit, top-earning medical cannabis producer based in Albuquerque, is a gold medal winner of New Mexico’s Family-Friendly Business Award. The award recognizes businesses with family-friendly work policies.

Verdes’ Director of Operation, Rachael Speegle, said, “It’s the most proud acknowledgment and achievement that I’ve ever earned as a business owner for the Verdes Foundation. The entire point of our programs and our employment strategies is to try to have our business work for our community.”

The award is based on the following policy categories.

  • Paid Leave: Personal leave, maternity/paternity leave, and family leave
  • Health Support: Breastfeeding/lactation support, healthcare, wellness programs, reasonable accommodations for workers who have medical needs arising out of pregnancy
  • Work Schedules: Flexible work scheduling, job sharing, telecommuting, predictable scheduling
  • Economic Support: Higher than average wages in your industry, employer subsidized training/educational assistance, retirement/asset building available, employer subsidized or on-site childcare or dependent care (such as aging parents), or on/near-site childcare

To be considered a gold medal recipient, a business must have at least one policy in each of the four categories.

Verdes has 43 employees. Forty percent are salaried employees who start at $40,000 a year and 60 percent are non-exempt hourly employees who start at $15 an hour. Turnover is low at Verdes, with about one open position a year, and the company receives 30–40 resumes a week from people seeking employment there.

Family Friendly New Mexico’s website notes, “Research indicates businesses with family friendly practices enjoy higher employee retention, improved organizational citizenship behavior and better work attitudes. In addition, these companies are generally more profitable.”

New Frontier Data found that sales of medical cannabis on New Mexico grew from $7.4 million in 2015, to $11.7 million in 2016—58 percent in one year. This rise is due to the “growing number of patients,” reported to be 40,432 as of April. Verdes, which launched in 2010 and serves 3,000 of them, has benefitted from this, with revenue of $2.3 million to date. An article written about Verdes last year in Albuquerque Business First called it New Mexico’s “top dog” in medical cannabis as the state’s top-grossing cannabis organization.

In a recent NPQ article, Gayle Nelson noted that “the legal marijuana industry could gross as much $20 billion in revenue by 2020,” that many of them are “looking to give back to their communities,” and that “many nonprofits are hesitant to accept their donations.” With employee policies like Verdes’, hesitant nonprofits may instead try to keep up.—Cyndi Suarez