Pot Clubs Tap a Vein to Help Red Cross

The American Red Cross and Harborside Health Center of San Jose are teaming up for the first ever pot club blood drive. Next Tuesday, June 15, Harborside will host a blood donation event at its 2106 Ringwood Ave. location from noon to 6pm.

Naveen Aggarwal, the community outreach coordinator for Harborside San Jose, says that this event marks the first time ever that the Red Cross has partnered with a medical cannabis collective.

“This is completely the first time,” Aggarwal says. “I’ve heard of it attempted in L.A. a while ago. But that didn’t have much success as far as having a lot of donors, and this is definitely the first thing of its kind with the involvement of Red Cross.”

Considering the recent deluge of pot clubs springing up around San Jose, and the subsequent controversy on the city level regarding regulation, the Red Cross was initially very cautious about approving Harborside as a blood donation partner, Aggarwal says.

For one, the Red Cross had simply never done business with a pot collective before. Aggarwal says they also had to get over the misconception that all medical marijuana patients suffer from life-threatening diseases that would make them unable to donate.

“People tend to think that it’s only very sick people or people with cancer or AIDS that are patients,” he says. “But in reality we have a lot of healthy people that would be completely able to donate blood or help out in different ways.”

After Red Cross representative Mona Helmhold inspected the Harborside dispensary, she had to get approval from top officials in the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The approval process took several months, but Harborside eventually cleared the hurdles and was officially approved to hold Tuesday’s blood donation event. Harborside says they have already signed up 30 qualified donors, which is 10 more then is required by the Red Cross to determine a successful blood drive.

The event is also being held in a back area of the Harborside location, not directly inside the pot dispensary itself. That way, members of the general public who don’t posses medical marijuana cards are also welcome to attend and donate.

Aggarwal says the pot dispensary has plans to make blood drives a regular, monthly event, alternating between their San Jose and Oakland facilities.

The Red Cross one of the nation’s largest suppliers of blood and blood products, serving more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide. Each day more than 38,000 Americans need blood, and during the summer the demand for blood is always higher.

On the city level, the San Jose City Council is planning to review a potential urgency ordinance on regulating local pot clubs on June 22 at 1:30pm at City Hall.

To find out more about qualification criteria for potential blood donors, call 866.236.3276 to talk with an eligibility consultant. Information can also be obtained at http://www.redcrossblood.org.


  1. Thanks, potheads. This new stuff is bound to be wildly popular.
    Finally we will have a choice when we need a transfusion. Units of blood will now come in dimebags with labels such as “Plasmajuana”, “AB- Panama Red”, and “B+ Gigglejuice”.

  2. Smart, politically savvy move by the local pot franchise to generate positive publicity.  Ironically, it does illuminate the fact that many, if not most recipients of medical marijuana are not chronic medical conditions but rather casual users who got a sympathetic doctor to write a prescription to help with “stress”, “back pain” or other issues.

    I actually don’t really care much about pot being legal or illegal and think its OK to slowly decriminalize casual use as is being done in the current system.  Rather than abolish or outlaw all the sins from alcohol, gambling, tobacco and pot, its okay to treat adults like adults and let them make lifestyle choices (and accept personal responsibility for negative consequences associated with poor choices.)

    Anything can be abused from pot to facebook and video games and I’d rather treat the problems than apply a one size fits all ban to suit the “let’s childproof the world” crowd.

  3. Leave it to Galt to find fault with other people’s good deeds.

    So John, can we count on you to donate a pint of blood in the next week? Put up or shut up.

    • No Beowulf. It’s not so much that I find fault with “other people’s good deeds”. It’s just my way of registering my disgust at the ease with which special interest groups such as the pothead lobby are able to manipulate public opinion to their own advantage.

      Almost everyone seems to agree that the great majority of the customers at these medicinal marijuana collectives are just recreational users who have no legitimate medical excuse. And yet here we are passing laws and enacting ordinances that are based on the premise that the customers all have medical problems that can only be alleviated by smoking pot. The whole program is based on a lie. I know it’s a lie. You know it’s a lie. Pierluigi Oliverio, the mayor, and the rest of the city council knows it’s a lie. But as long as they’re allowed to pretend it’s the truth then the whole thing can continue to exist. They need only agree, with a wink and a nod, to be sincere about all the “medicinal” bullshit. 
      Here at the local level our lawmakers seem to have so little respect FOR the law that they are willing to enact laws that are based on a lies. But they need our help to do it. All they need is for the public to be willingly complicit in their deceit. And here in “enlightened” Silicon Valley where the sheep outnumber the humans that is absolutely not a problem for them.
      And what is the justification for this shameful corruption? What else. Revenue. A new source of tax revenue.

      The potheads get their pot. Terrific.
      The city gets it’s hand on more of our money. Swell.

      All it took was a little more chipping away at the foundation of our system of laws.
      Is it any wonder so many of us have developed a profound distrust of and disrespect for our government?

      • Yes, it is a wonder given your non-fact laden verbiage. Do you have anything approaching a fact that actually supports what you are speculating? Are you saying that most doctors will fabricate an Rx for anyone who wants pot? I’d certainly be interested in seeing your factual support for this because that is a serious allegation.

        • Actually, I do know several young, healthy people with cards they got on the internet. They go into clubs, buy a bag of pot, and resell it to customers. The medical cards are extremely easy to get, especially if you go to SF or Berkeley which is a shame because it takes away from the validity of how valuable it is for a truly sick person.

        • I’m saying that if you are a pothead who wants an Rx you won’t have too much trouble finding a doctor who will write you one. 
          I’m saying most of the customers at these pot clubs are either dopers or hypochondriacs.
          No, I can’t show you any facts and figures to substantiate my belief. It’s my own judgement formed from the testimony of my own eyes and ears- something you might want to try sometime.
          Like Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

      • Thanks for sharing your opinion, but you dodged the question: Will you be donating blood?

        The “potheads” are doing this act of kindness for the greater good of society, how about you?

        • “The potheads are doing this act of kindness for the greater good of society”
          Oh really, Reader? Silly me imagining it’s primarily a calculated business decision designed to strengthen their public image.

          Imagine if you will that instead of being about Harborside Health Center, this Metro article had been about BP holding a blood drive. The article was positive and upbeat, just matter of factly giving the hours and details of BP’s planned event. Would it then seem so unfair to you when bloggers cynically chimed in that BP was only doing it to restore their tarnished public image and that we shouldn’t fall for it? Or would you still drink the koolaid and obediently admire BP and congratulate them for “this act of kindness for the greater good of society”? No, I believe you’d not only see right through BP’s motives but you’d take it a step further and criticize Metro for being BP’s publicity agent.

          Did I donate blood? I might just as easily ask you the same question but I won’t because 1) it’s irrelevant, and 2) it’s none of my business.

          Enjoy those Doritos!

  4. It turns out that Cannabis is a powerful anti-inflammatory and stress reducer.  Who in our society does not suffer from stress and inflammation?  We ALL do!  The true shame is on our Federal Government who outlawed Cannabis some 70 years ago for corporate greed and corruption.  How many millions of americans have suffered because Dupont and Hurst were greedy bastards?

    I say, if doctors can help keep young people out of jail by writing them a recommendation, who is really being harmed?  Certainly not the people smoking the herb.  After all, no one has EVER died from smoking pot!  It’s not possible because it’s not toxic!

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