Amy Weiss passed out packets of hemp derived CBD products – prerolls, tinctures, and other items donated by cannabis companies and hemp growers – among scattered tents occupied by a homeless community in San Fransiscio, Ca.
A discussion ensues about the properties of cannabis: what it is, how to use it, the issues people are struggling with and ways that medical cannabis might help. Several folks join the conversation, sharing their thoughts about the kind bud and its derivatives. Weiss takes notes on any progress or feedback.
Reducing Suffering and other Drug Dependency
In addition to the stress of homelessness, many people living on the street suffer from PTSD and untreated mental illnesses, as well as pain disorders and other health issues. Weiss is convinced that rampant drug addiction in the Tenderloin is most certainly aggravated – if not caused – by the ongoing trauma that lack of shelter and other basic unmet needs perpetuate. “People on the streets often feel like they need to use certain drugs to stay alert to protect themselves, or to take a momentary pause from crisis and unhealed trauma,” says Weiss.
“Cannabis helped me slow down. It quelled my anxiety, cleared my mind of racing thoughts, and also improved my appetite, which is something I’ve always struggled with.”
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, persons of color are 30 times more likely to suffer homelessness than whites.
“By the time people hit the streets, they’ve lost all hope. They don’t trust anyone. Regaining that trust and rebuilding hope takes support and time, but it’s possible.”
With help from cannabis, hopeful people have weaned themselves off numerous prescription meds for sleep, pain, anxiety and depression. Success stories they love to share.
Real Results from Real People
“Cannabis can be an invaluable harm reduction tool. SFHC has taken the time to educate people about all kinds of drugs and their effects, including cannabis with its array of cannabinoids and how they can help.”
Weiss and her team recently interviewed 100 homeless individuals in the Tenderloin to better understand what would help improve their situations. After their top concern — a safe, stable, private space to lay their heads and lock up their belongings — sixty-seven percent were also interested in trying medicinal cannabis to transition from harder drugs.
“For cannabis to be effective, people need a reliable, consistent, affordable supply,” says Green. “On the streets, a sack of meth or a fifth of vodka is much cheaper than an eighth of an ounce of cannabis. When someone only has a few bucks in their pocket, they’re going to go the cheaper route. There’s no system in place to get them cannabis as an alternative. The idea is still too new.”
SFHC is pioneering this effort, while seeking support in the form of donated flower, tinctures, capsules, and other products from cannabis companies, hemp growers, dispensaries, and CBD brands. (Contact SFHC directly for more information on how to contribute.)
Weiss obviously understands that cannabis is not going to solve all the problems of homeless people, but it could be a stepping-stone away from dangerous drugs. And by calming and balancing the nervous system and buffering stress, it can ease some of the emotional and psychological burden that homeless individuals experience.
When people have shelter, it’s life-changing. When people have their basic needs, they can begin to heal and regain a sense of hope. It’s the perfect time to get them on a recovery program that includes medicinal cannabis.