Massachusetts’ Commonwealth Dispensary Association is partnering with the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association to make hand sanitizer and other cannabis companies around the continent are donating personal protection equipment to hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The CDA estimates that it can produce 5,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week to donate to hospitals. The organization members have applied World Health Organization Guidelines to its cannabis machinery and the sanitizer will be labeled accordingly so it can be distributed to hospitals by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. The move follows a public health emergency order by Department of Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.
The plan was proposed by John Hillier, CDA board member and executive director of Central Ave. Compassionate Care, and founder and president of Gage Cannabis, who said the lab facilities of member cannabis companies are “equivalent” to pharmacies which can produce hand sanitizer during states of emergency.
“I also had the opportunity to visit Lowell General Hospital and observed the production of hand sanitizer in one of their facilities. It was clear to me that hospitals are spending valuable resources producing hand sanitizer when they should be preparing for what’s coming down the road. As an industry, we have the capabilities to step in and allow them to spend more time providing care.” – Hillier, in a statement
In Canada, Canopy Growth Corp. and Hexo Corp. are providing hospitals with face masks, gloves, and bodysuits from their excess inventory, Bloomberg reports. Greenhouse staff often use the same PPE equipment as hospital workers to help prevent contamination.
Jordan Sinclair, Canopy Growth spokesperson, told BNN that the company donated “thousands” of gloves, Tyvek suits, and masks sourced from two greenhouses in British Columbia that the company closed earlier this month.
A Hexo spokesperson told BNN that it had donated 150 N95 masks to paramedic services in Quebec.
Organigram Holdings spokesperson Ray Gracewood said the company had donated 500 liters of ethanol to a New Brunswick manufacturer for hand sanitizer but would be unable to provide any PPE saying they are already at critical levels. Aurora Cannabis Inc., and Tilray also said they were running low on PPE equipment.
WeedMD Inc. indicated plans to switch to alternative facemasks and donate its supply of N95s.
Other Canadian cannabis companies, including Village Farms International Inc., Aphria Inc., TerrAscend Corp., and CannTrust Holdings Inc., told Bloomberg that they were evaluating their PPE stock in order to determine how much they could donate to frontline medical staff.
In California, the Glass House Group is donating 1,000 protective gowns to a Santa Barbara hospital to help protect healthcare workers there from exposure to the virus. According to company president Graham Farrar, the firm also intends to find additional masks for frontline healthcare workers and will donate 5% of product sales to the local food bank during the crisis.
“For years, the majority of the world’s perspective was that the cannabis industry was a bunch of stoners, but the reality is we are an industry with deep roots in the medical aspect of things,” Farrar said.
“When we saw our fellow caregivers in need of personal protective equipment that we had on hand and used in the farm for pest control, we jumped in and did everything we could to help our fellow soldiers in arms helping patients on the frontlines.”
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