They've cleaned up 1000 pounds of trash from the Los Gatos creek.
They've helped collect over 8000 pounds of canned foods for the homeless.
By the end of the year they plan to have their entire business running on solar power.
They've raised and donated almost $5000 for Team In Training, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
And now they're about to save 300 lives with an epic blood drive event the likes of which the Bay Area may quite possibly have never seen.
No it's not the Red Cross.
No it's not the Salvation Army.
No it's not Doctors Without Borders or the U.N. or even Kiva.org.
And it's absolutely not Google.
It's MedMar - your local San Jose medical marijuana dispensary.
We recently reached out to co-founder Douglas Chloupek to see if his business was having an identity crisis or, more likely, the recent federal scares have instigated a conscious shift from one industry to another. What we found out was neither. Quite the contrary actually; Doug has actually zeroed in on the key to success in the ever-evolving cannabis industry: compassion.
MedMar has made their main focus to take us back to the roots of what started this whole movement to begin with. And they're doing it all by example. MedMar has made it a central focus of their business to take the focus away from the hoopla of vapor and hash bars and knock-you-so-silly-you-forget-where-you-parked-and-if-it-was-even-you-that-drove, and channeling that focus on helping patients and caring for the patients in ways that stretch beyond providing medical cannabis, and in the process, has built a model version of how to put the compassion back in medical marijuana. It turns out the formula is quite simple: be compassionate. It's the follow through that seems to have been lost in the mad initial 'Green Rush' scramble that seems to finally be leveling itself out, for the most part, thankfully, leaving just the legitimate distribution centers in tact.
"Our methodology of running this cooperative is the true nature of a cooperative," explains Chloupek. "Myself and my two partners used the very little bit of money we had in our pocket, and the last two years have been spent entrenching ourselves in this community as a true cooperative - truly giving back to our community, our neighbors, and our patients by re-investing everything we've made back into this company to set the example for the industry on how a well-run cooperative can fully assist sick and ill patients whilst being a valuable asset to the community."
Their big focus right now is an epic Blood Drive. MedMar has teamed up with Blood Centers of the Pacific and on June 2, they anticipate a turnout of between 500-600 people. "The beautiful part about how this whole thing is being structured is that they are not all patients," explains Doug. "This is a family event that is going to bring in the entire community."
"Because of who we partnered with, Blood Centers of the Pacific, we will actually have two 50-foot long mobile blood banks parked in front of my facility. Our goal is to have 100 people donate blood," Doug tells us, "which will be enough blood to save 300 lives."
To put the scale of this into perspective, when the NHL's San Jose Sharks put on their blood drive event, they have about 200 people donate. This means that your local medical marijuana collective will be accomplishing half of what a nationally recognized sports organization is able to do.
On top of it all, this is not just a bus parked outside a sterile building while a seeming assembly line of donors walk in nervously on one end and walk out with an oatmeal cookie on the other end. They're making a full day out of this thing. "We're going to have 4 race cars there for a mini-car show, we'll have arts and crafts vendor booths, an ice cream truck and a gourmet food truck as well as a barbecue to feed over 200 people, and to top it all off, we have Max Cabello Jr. performing, who has played for Earth Wind & Fire and John Lee Hooker."
And it doesn't stop there. At the blood drive event, MedMar will be launching a composting program in which they will be distributing fresh organic fruit to their members with the understanding that the members will return the peels and rinds which they will use in their organic compost pile, "allowing us to create our own worm teas and composts for our on-site cultivation."
In addition, MedMar is hoping to translate their momentum into an ambitious solar initiative. They worked together with the Santa Clara County Water District for four months to get approval to trim the trees in the Los Gatos Creek behind their building. The purpose was to allow sufficient sunlight to hit the solar panels they plan on installing on their roof. “This will make us the first solar powered dispensary on the west coast,” Doug boasts.
What caused it all? Why does a medical marijuana dispensary feel the need to be so proactive on a philanthropic front? After all, their members will always be there. When it comes down to it however, the answer is quite elegantly simple…it's not only good for people, it's good for business. "It establishes ourselves with a better reputation and it helps set the bar for the industry as far as what others can aspire to do," Doug explains, "You have to be able to lead by example. No one else has pulled 1000 pounds of trash out of the Los Gatos Creek in the last 5 years. We also gave 8500 pounds of food to the homeless and we're going to save 300 people's lives by donating blood, and you know what? We're going to have a good time doing it.
"So it helps entrench the business in the community not as a weed shop, but as a viable resource and community outreach center that is truly helping people, and, more than anything,” Doug emphasizes, “it feels really good when you do that."