I thought I would switch things up, as all my blogs up to this point have been about growing at home and the experience of starting a new business in this new market space. Something happened recently in Hamilton that I thought needed some attention, so I will use this opportunity to shed some light on it.
On April 17th, 2019, Ganjanista’s Social Lounge was raided by police. The only cannabis that was on site (as this is not a dispensary) was a donation box for a group called H.O.P.E. (Hamilton Opioid Prevention Experiment). This donation box was there to help people with opioid addictions; giving them a safe alternative to opioids and a caring ear when they needed it. When I saw that they were shut down and raising money for a legal fight, I donated, and reached out to see how else I could help.
I met with Paula, Al, CJ, and John (H.O.P.E. supporters) outside of the closed social lounge a few days after the closure, as they were still committed to their mission and had received more donations, they were waiting where those who were looking for relief from opioids could find them. These people are extremely committed to helping the people of their community, including those who struggle with opioid addiction who are often forgotten. They had all been impacted by the opioid crisis in some way, some through friends, or family, and once being involved in protecting an overdose victim outside of the lounge and getting them help. All their experiences helped them see the human side of the opioid epidemic and they needed to do something to help.
I was already a fan of what H.O.P.E. was doing, mainly because there is way too little being done to help those addicted to opioids. When speaking with Paula, I heard stats from other cities including Canadian cities like Vancouver, proving that providing cannabis to opioid users reduced opioid deaths significantly. Programs like these also create relationships for opioid addicts that can help them get the assistance they need to break the addiction, when people are ready. Having a safe space to come and warm up as well as a friend to talk to can make a world of difference to people in that position. It seems strange to me that law enforcement would focus on taking away a donation box for opioid addicts as part of the cannabis enforcement.
I would encourage everyone who can help through volunteer work, financial support, meeting the people impacted, or just coming out and seeing what they are doing while learning a little more about the about the opioid epidemic in Hamilton.
If you are interested please reach out to H.O.P.E. (Hamilton Opioid, Prevention, Experiment) at https://www.facebook.com/HamiltonOpioidPreventionExperiment/