Medithrive, a cannabis dispensary in San Francisco's Mission District, got a facelift over the weekend: its exterior was painted to match the Ukrainian flag as its Ukraine-born CEO donated profits to war relief in the country. (Photo/Courtesy)
Medithrive, a cannabis dispensary in San Francisco's Mission District, got a facelift over the weekend: its exterior was painted to match the Ukrainian flag as its Ukraine-born CEO donated profits to war relief in the country. (Photo/Courtesy)

Ukraine-born Jewish cannabis CEO raises thousands for war relief

Misha Breyburg, a Ukrainian American Jew born in Odessa, wants everyone to know where he stands on the invasion of Ukraine.

Misha Breyburg
Misha Breyburg

So on Saturday, the Medithrive cannabis dispensary, where Breyburg is the CEO, got a face-lift: The front of the building in San Francisco’s Mission District was painted the bright blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag.

“This hits especially close to home, especially for Jewish Ukrainians,” he told J. “I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do something.”

Breyburg did more than paint the store. He also arranged for the donation of all proceeds from sales on March 6 to Sunflower of Peace, a Boston-based nonprofit that, according to its website, provides medical and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Ten percent of all sales for the rest of the week, through March 13, will go to the organization as well, Breyburg said. On Monday, the CEO said he’d raised “in the high five figures.”

“It felt pretty incredible,” he said.

Breyburg, 50, came from Odessa in the late 1970s with his family at the beginning of a wave of Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union to the Bay Area.

He grew up in the city, and after a stint in Israel he joined the family construction business, building high-end homes back in San Francisco. The family was Russian-speaking and deeply attached to Odessa, the famously international and multilingual port city — with a rich Jewish history dating back centuries — they’d left behind.

“I was always proud of my Russian, Ukrainian, really Odessite background,” he said.

Breyburg got into the cannabis business after he saw how much the drug had helped friends of his parents who suffered from cancer. When a well-known dispensary was closing in the Mission, he convinced his parents he could make it work, although it was a tough sell to get Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to agree to invest in cannabis.

“Somewhat begrudgingly, my dad agreed,” he said.

The business has thrived since then and does delivery through most of the Bay Area (delivery orders are included in the fundraiser).

His parents have been glued to the TV since the invasion, he said, and he’s been watching too as Russian troops continue to bombard Ukraine’s cities. He hopes his fundraiser can make a small difference.

Breyburg said he is amazed at how unanimous U.S. public opinion has been in support of Ukraine, and he urged people to give money or raise awareness at this crucial moment in time.

“Because I am from Odessa, because I am a Jewish person, because I know what happened to our people, I can’t be silent,” he said.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.