Medical Cannabis Donations From Within the Industry Help Reduce Opioid Use

A recent California law provides a legal channel for licensed cannabis businesses to donate surplus or expired product to eligible patients at no charge.

One of the longest-running chapters of the National Organization for Marijuana Law Reform (NORML) since the inception of this new law, Los Angeles NORML501(c)(3) nonprofits veterans cannabis coalition influence change through SB-34Los Angeles NORML Executive Director, Ian Rathmanand Eric Goepel, CEO and founder of the Veterans Affairs Cannabis Coalition, made it the organization’s mission to focus on developing programs related to this unique law.

Their program is based on a model developed by Goepel and Shelly McKay, co-founder of Kannabis Works, where the program was pioneered. She launched the first day of her new SB-34 legislation on March 1, 2020. Kannabis Works has maintained consistent monthly donations ever since. They have become the longest-running donation site under the law and serve as a precedent for other programs to build on.

Rather than creating standalone nonprofits or “social justice” lifestyle brands, Los Angeles NORML and the Veterans Affairs Cannabis Coalition have focused on revitalizing and leveraging existing nonprofits. They strive to build cannabis donation programs that simultaneously benefit communities, patients and the industry at large.

SB-34 does not create tax incentives, but it reduces costs by exempting certain state taxes (cultivation, use and excise taxes) depending on the type of license. If properly coordinated across the supply chain, SB-34 donations can reach patients at relatively low shared labor and material costs.

Licensed California cannabis companies are uniquely positioned to legally provide life-sustaining drugs to people, many of whom struggle with a lack of access or means to legal cannabis. . Every corner of the industry can participate. This includes farmers and manufacturers, retailers (point of sale and distribution), distributors, laboratories, brands and ancillary businesses (legal, technical, administrative, etc.).

“We have worked with many brands and retailers to implement corporate social responsibility programs locally that have a real benefit to medical patients in our communities. We are helping these communities by providing free, safe access to our community. This program is a big part of changing the stigma, which is a big reason why I remain a supporter of its expansion.” Ian Rathman“Cannabis is sending signals to the entire community. medicine

Los Angeles NORML and the Veterans Cannabis Coalition are focused on helping veterans, terminally ill, elderly and those suffering from mental health issues. Today, there are over 100 active participating brands, serving over 600 unique patients, over 10 active retail and non-profit partners, 12 donation sites, and over $4 million in retail medical cannabis. donated to the community. For the past two years.

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Ian Rathman of Los Angeles NORML said: “Every time I hear inspiring stories of individuals who have been able to reduce or eliminate opioids from their daily medications by substituting for cannabis. We used to watch our lives pass by, but now we feel alive and reconnected with family and friends.

Ian went on to highlight how often these people shed tears while talking about how they rediscovered their best lives with the help of medical cannabis.

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Eric Goepel, CEO and Founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, said: This includes administrative and technical support, fundraising, patient-consumer connections, and education. ”

Goepel says: Also at the forefront of Harm he is developing a donation pipeline for reduction nonprofits. The group works with non-residents of Skid Row and has been giving cannabis sparingly for years. They have seen first-hand how the risks are greatly reduced and the potential gains are realized. ”

“Instead of replicating what already exists and trying to further fragment support and attention, we offer donations and education as a valuable service to cannabis-friendly organizations,” Eric said.

Goepel has made it clear that the SB-34 is a means to an end. It aims to show how cannabis can improve both individual quality of life as well as overall public health (by promoting substitution and preservative effects). Los Angeles NORML and Veterans The Cannabis Coalition believes the first step is to work with a growing network of non-profit partners to bring together viable products that would otherwise be wasted by patients.

The next important step is to secure government support. This can be done at the city/county or state level to establish pilot programs that donate and reimburse patients for medical cannabis purchases and track health metrics for a year.

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“We are in the phase of normalization and legalization, the stage of theoretically demonstrating the power of cannabis in a way that leaves little room for politicians to hedge or circumvent,” Goepel stressed. He continued, “In addition to soaring suicide and overdose rates, the emerging third cause of death (COVID), which is disabling millions of Americans, is causing severe It reflects a structural failure.”

“Cannabis is not a panacea,” Gepel said.

Los Angeles NORML’s active SB-34 giving partners include Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Kannabis Works, HERBL, Nabis, Pineapple Express, Amuse, Rove, Pacific Stone, Claybourne, Papa & Barkley, Raw Garden, CRU, CanEx, Coastal Sun, Bird included. Valley Organics, Emerald Bay Extracts and more.

Brands interested in getting involved should know that only legitimate businesses can offer SB-34 donations. Los Angeles NORML can utilize this program to provide a legal avenue for donating products and establishing regular community outreach events. All license types allow donated products to be tagged with METRC’s “SB34”. By donating products with a short shelf life, you can reduce the cost of refurbishment and retesting.

For retailers, you can join forces with NORML in Los Angeles to engage your supply chain partners in your compassionate mission and create content for promotional purposes. New market segments can then be educated to increase product awareness for brands targeting those new markets.

“California is unique in the world in that it is the only state or country to have passed a law permitting compassionate giving. It could serve as a proof of concept for states and countries to follow,” Ian said. This program was intentionally created to be reproducible in other markets.”

There are endless numbers of patients who need help accessing medical cannabis. It is important that individual retailers and brands develop their own programs to facilitate the charitable donations that SB-34 allows. Los Angeles NORML and the Veterans Cannabis Coalition are committed to raising awareness about this program as it impacts real change.

There are other active organizations within California creating charitable programs that provide medicine to those in need. Some of these include Weed For Warriors ProjectMelissa Bergstaler, Kelly Carlton dear cannabisand, of course, Sweetleaf Joe Airone from Sweetleaf Collective Since 1996, kindness has been the motto of San Francisco.

Ian concludes: It is our goal to further expand this program to the United States and the wider world as a non-discriminatory example for emerging cannabis markets to follow. ”

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