The American Red Cross and Harborside Health Center of San Jose are teaming up for the first ever pot club blood drive. Next Tuesday, June 15, Harborside will host a blood donation event at its 2106 Ringwood Ave. location from noon to 6pm.
Naveen Aggarwal, the community outreach coordinator for Harborside San Jose, says that this event marks the first time ever that the Red Cross has partnered with a medical cannabis collective.
“This is completely the first time,” Aggarwal says. “I’ve heard of it attempted in L.A. a while ago. But that didn’t have much success as far as having a lot of donors, and this is definitely the first thing of its kind with the involvement of Red Cross.”
Considering the recent deluge of pot clubs springing up around San Jose, and the subsequent controversy on the city level regarding regulation, the Red Cross was initially very cautious about approving Harborside as a blood donation partner, Aggarwal says.
For one, the Red Cross had simply never done business with a pot collective before. Aggarwal says they also had to get over the misconception that all medical marijuana patients suffer from life-threatening diseases that would make them unable to donate.
“People tend to think that it’s only very sick people or people with cancer or AIDS that are patients,” he says. “But in reality we have a lot of healthy people that would be completely able to donate blood or help out in different ways.”
After Red Cross representative Mona Helmhold inspected the Harborside dispensary, she had to get approval from top officials in the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The approval process took several months, but Harborside eventually cleared the hurdles and was officially approved to hold Tuesday’s blood donation event. Harborside says they have already signed up 30 qualified donors, which is 10 more then is required by the Red Cross to determine a successful blood drive.
The event is also being held in a back area of the Harborside location, not directly inside the pot dispensary itself. That way, members of the general public who don’t posses medical marijuana cards are also welcome to attend and donate.
Aggarwal says the pot dispensary has plans to make blood drives a regular, monthly event, alternating between their San Jose and Oakland facilities.
The Red Cross one of the nation’s largest suppliers of blood and blood products, serving more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide. Each day more than 38,000 Americans need blood, and during the summer the demand for blood is always higher.
On the city level, the San Jose City Council is planning to review a potential urgency ordinance on regulating local pot clubs on June 22 at 1:30pm at City Hall.
To find out more about qualification criteria for potential blood donors, call 866.236.3276 to talk with an eligibility consultant. Information can also be obtained at http://www.redcrossblood.org.