“I couldn’t believe the devastation. I watched everything get wiped away. Their whole lives were gone,” he said. “There was a moment where I started looking at ways to fly over there, ways to somehow get there to help out.”
Gindi knows nothing about search and rescue, so he soon abandoned that plan. But he is an expert in one area: medical marijuana.
He runs two dispensaries in the Denver area called Compassionate Pain Management. They legally sell marijuana to patients who have received a recommendation from a doctor.
He floated the idea of raising money for Japan on his dispensary’s Facebook page and got a dozen “likes” right away. He knew immediately that he could use his dispensary to raise money. Thus was born “Joints for Japan.”
“What we’re going to do is take all the revenue from the hand-rolled medicine, 100% of it, from this weekend and potentially for the next few weeks … and we’re going to donate it to the Red Cross,” Gindi said.
“Hand-rolled medicine” is medical marijuana-speak for a joint, or a marijuana cigarette. They contain half of a gram of marijuana and are the most popular item in the store. At $5 each, Gindi says, they sell thousands a month.
“We get a lot of people who just come in for these,” Gindi said.
The most difficult part of the endeavor has been coming up with the fundraiser’s name. Gindi’s business is legal under Colorado law. He pays taxes and has 18 full-time employees. But the industry still struggles for respectability.
With that in mind, Gindi rejected contenders such as “Bake for the Quake” and “Joint Relief.”
Gindi hopes his fundraising efforts help bring a bit more respectability to the medical marijuana industry. But ultimately, it is the people of Japan he truly hopes to help.
“In Japan every day, the number of lives lost jumps up. Whatever we can do to help out, we’d like to do.”
CNN’s Jim Spellman