On March 25, a Phoenix cannabis cultivation company called Grow Sciences decided to help people negatively affected by the coronavirus in the best way it knew how: free weed.
The firm posted a story on its Instagram account asking patients to email them a photo of their patient ID and a brief explanation of why they can’t buy cannabis right now. The patients would then qualify to receive a free quarter-ounce of flower that Grow Sciences called its own “stimulus package.”
The stories that came in were heavier than expected.
“It got real in a matter of minutes,” says Mike Cuthriell, Grow Science’s co-owner.
Cuthriell and his partner, Matt Blum, received more than 400 replies in all. They pored over every email and responded to each one individually. They read stories about people losing work, and illnesses suffered by patients and their families. The ones that hit hardest were stories in which families’ entire incomes were wiped out, Blum says.
A lot of patients were living paycheck to paycheck before the crisis, he says, and with two incomes lost, some patients were worried about paying for food and rent, much less cannabis. Some of them just wanted to share their stories, he says. The experience gave the company a deeper perspective on how the pandemic has affected their customers.
It in turn gave many of those customers a whole lot of free flower — more than 100 ounces, worth thousands of dollars over the past three weeks, the owners say.
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“We’re not solving the world’s problems here,” Cuthriell says. “But we wanted to do something.”
Patients picked up their “stimulus packages” from Grow Science’s partner dispensaries in Phoenix: The Local Joint, The Holistic Center, and Health for Life. The qualifying patients each received a free quad of the strains Sherbhead, Zkittlez, Str8 Lemonade, or Dr. Who.
Grow Sciences plans to do a Tucson “stimulus package” in the next couple of weeks.
Marketing Director Greg Dunaway took a closer look at the data he could gather from the replies.
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He says 126 respondents — about 30 percent of the respondents — had lost their job. Another 125 were furloughed, 91 had seen their work hours reduced, and 51 were already looking for work and had their prospects stymied when lockdowns started going into effect.
In the past few weeks, the company has also hired some of its employees’ partners or spouses who found themselves out of work, and began offering unlimited time off. But their employees see themselves as essential, Blum says. “They will not stay home.”
The company started in 2017. Cuthriell also owns a dispensary in Washington, D.C.
“I live for this shit,” Blum says. “I’d give it all away if I could.”