Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2019

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Dispensaries trading free weed for holiday donations

Canned Food for Pre-rolled Marijuana Cigarettes

Wade Vandervort

Terry Barton, right, of Veterans Village, helps Rob Ruckus, manager of Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary, with a delivery of nonperishable food from a holiday food drive at the Las Vegas dispensary on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The donations benefit residents of Veterans Village.

Canned Food for Pre-rolled Marijuana Cigarettes

Rob Ruckus, manager at Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary, prepares to deliver non-perishable food donations during a holiday food drive at Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Donations benefit veteran residents of Veteran's Village. Launch slideshow »

Rob Ruckus, a worker at Inyo Fine Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas, grabbed a tub of more than 50 canned food items Thursday morning to load into his pickup truck.

Over the last couple weeks, donated food — items such as cereal, canned goods, macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper and Ramen noodles — has been piling up fast in the main lobby of the dispensary. It’s headed for Veterans Village just in time for the holidays.

“The donations have been coming in nonstop,” said Ruckus, the dispensary’s floor manager. “It has been incredible.”

Inyo is one of several valley dispensaries hosting holiday food and toy drives with local cultivator Green Life Productions.

The dispensary is offering a free pre-rolled marijuana joint, which usually costs about $12, in exchange for three food items and has collected more than 1,000 pounds of food since the drive began Dec. 1. It is also passing out a significant amount of weed — more than 2,000 free joints.

“We’ve actually seen a slight dip in sales because so many people are coming in for the pre-rolls,” Inyo owner David Goldwater said, chuckling. “But it speaks to so many different things: the philanthropy and the demand for different products. It’s fascinating.”

Customers and friends Mike Frayt, 27, John Black, 50, and Lloyd Ferrer, 33, were among those taking advantage of the deal. After leaving a plastic grocery bag filled with canned vegetables Thursday, they walked eagerly into the dispensary sales area to claim their free pre-rolls.

“It’s a good deal and a good way to give back this holiday season,” Frayt said.

Essence Cannabis Dispensary, meanwhile, is collecting toys for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission in exchange for free marijuana.

Essence and partner DigiPath Labs collected about 600 toys last year and hope to match or beat that number before the drive ends Dec. 19, said Shelby Stanley, operations manager for DigiPath. “Our cannabis community is coming out for our community,” Stanley said.

At Veterans Village, which provides transitional and permanent housing for U.S. military veterans, inventory manager Manny Carvalho opened the door to a large room, revealing thousands of pounds of food. A “fair chunk” of the estimated 15,000 pounds of food the nonprofit hands out annually to its residents, other veterans and the homeless comes from Inyo, he said.

Veterans Village President Arnold Stalk called food donations from local marijuana dispensaries “a real lifeline for us.”

“The food items they’ve donated could be the difference between people eating and not eating,” Stalk said. “We’re able to feed hundreds of people that way.”