Food Drive, Dispensary Style: Free Joints For Canned Food

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Photo: Granny Purps
Granny Purps medical marijuana dispensary in Soquel, California, found a very effective way to motivate customers to donate to a food drive — give away free joints.

​​A medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Cruz County, California has found a very effective way to inspire canned food donations for the holidays — giving away joints.

The Granny Purps dispensary in Soquel, about 60 miles southeast of San Francisco, handed out one free cannabis cigarette for every four cans of food donated by its patients, reports Tovin Lapan at the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Each patient was limited to three free joints a day.
The dispensary took in donations of more than 11,000 pounds of food and handed out 2,000 free joints between November and Christmas Eve, when the promotion ended. (Aw, man!)
The food was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.


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Photo: Granny Purps

​Granny Purps, which has only eight employees, contributed the amount of food to the drive that would normally come from a business with 30 to 40 workers, according to Second Harvest spokesman Danny Keith.
“We look at pounds donated per employee, and Granny Purps, with about eight employees, received the amount of donations that we’d expect a business with 30 to 40 employees to get,” Keith said.
“They had a good recipe for a small business,” Keith said. “It takes the focus of the owner to implore employees and customers to participate. They focused on a goal of raising food for people who need it, applied resources and came up with a creative angle.”
“Businesses like these fill half our coffers,” Keith said. “There are some big contributors, a handful of them, but these food drives from small businesses and other groups really do a lot. With everything going on in terms of the economy, it’s definitely tighter our there. It’s been a rough year for everyone ,and to have new businesses like Granny Purps pitching in is great.”
“We had experience with Second Harvest because my husband is a retired chiropractor, and we used to collect donations from his patients at his office,” said Granny Purps co-owner Nancy Black, who lots of folks call “Granny Purps” just like the dispensary.
“We used to do some sort of incentive to encourage people to donate, and so we decided to do the same thing here to get momentum,” Black said.
When the Second Harvest barrels were first put out at the dispensary in November, donations started trickling in slowly.
After word of the “free joint” promotion spread to the dispensary’s 1,900 patients, the employees at Granny Purps could barely keep up with the flood of food, and even reduced the minimum amount for the promotion from four cans of food to three.
“We only had the barrels out for three or four days before the incentive was announced, and I think our patients would have come out even without the incentive,” Black said. “We have an incredible group of compassionate patients… I love that our patients are so compassionate. When we told them that we were doing this, their response was amazing.”
Some patients donated far more than the minimum amount, like the one guy who brought in five pounds of rice. 
And it wasn’t just the patients chipping in food, either. According to Black, one of the growers who supplies the dispensary donated some marijuana to be used for the promotional joints, which normally sell for $10.
After the successful drive this year, Black said she plans to do it again in 2011, and has other community initiatives in the works.
“We are planning to organize a beach cleanup in January and have a promotion associated with it, but we haven’t finalized anything yet,” Black said.
“It’s a noble initiative, and also an impressive one,” wrote Noah Galuten at LA Weekly. “Usually when people give away pot for food, it’s something along the lines of, ‘OK dude, but only if you bring me a carne asada burrito.’ This time? There was a room filled with people, food, and marijuana, and all of the food wound up at the food bank. Like we said — impressive.”
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