Like the rest of businesses across America, the cannabis industry has also felt the impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic.   For some patients, it is more difficult to make purchases and for others going into a dispensary at this time is simply not an option.   Some seniors, cancer patients and immuno-compromised patients are having difficulty obtaining medicine that helps relieve pain, helps with sleep, soothes their anxiety and calms their tremors.

Fortunately, the PA caregivers provision provides a mechanism for doing exactly this.   So, why then, are some dispensaries and growers in the state perhaps slow to embrace this procedure as a means to bring medicine to people in need? 

Caregiving for PA patients seems to be mostly an afterthought. That  needs to change, and the change is quite straightforward and easy.

It makes good business sense for dispensaries and grower-processors to embrace and and support the caregivers program.   Dispensaries and Grower-Processors should be actively encouraging, recruiting and supporting caregivers in PA.  Its the right thing to do and makes sense for their bottom line.

 

Art Credit: Soulful Cannabis

 

Business Facts for Sponsors of Free Patient Care Giving Services

 

  • Increased business revenue. Our internal analysis (see NOTE below) indicates that every caregiver represents the potential for $18,000 in additional dispensary revenue that is otherwise unavailable. Five caregivers operating at full capacity (5 patients originally – now unlimited due to the pandemic) can represent $90,000 in added income for dispensaries or $45,000 in added income for grower-processors.
  • Resilience. At times of unexpected business disruption (e.g. a global pandemic), an organized network of caregivers provides your business with a level of flexibility that increases patient touch-points and develops capacity and agility in retail operations.  
  • Brand Development. Actively supporting, encouraging and educating the public about your support for free care-giving strengthens your contribution to the social good in the eyes of the public.  In a 2018 brand study, PR Strategy firm Edelman found that 64% of consumers choose, switch, avoid or boycott a brand based on its stand on societal issues.  

 

Caregiving during this difficult time has led some dispensaries to hire caregivers directly to serve their patients and develop patient loyalty.   We applaud this activity!   These dispensaries are providing jobs and delivering a free service to patients in need.  

Soulful Cannabis started its Soulful Caregivers Program a year ago in 2019 and continues to support patients at no cost to the patient.   Based on our observations and experience with this program,  we share the recommendations below to encourage improvements and standards around cannabis caregiving in PA.

1) Adopt a code of ethics.  See the Soulful Cannabis CREDO which emphasizes that services MUST be free to the patients.

2) Educate and build a corps of caregivers whose goals are to understand the basics of cannabis product formulations, concentrates, extract basics and how to work with home-bound patients.  Until a state-mandated, free caregiving training program is adopted, dispensaries and their caregivers are welcome to use our cannabis caregiver training resources which are free to the public. (An acknowledgement would be appreciated for caregivers and businesses using the Soulful Caregiver training and education.)

 3) Publish your care-giving procedures.  Make it simple and easy.   Encourage caregivers to work with your dispensary.  Giving local caregivers your GM’s phone number is a smart move to encourage caregiver loyalty.   Have your staff familiarized with the Patient and Caregiver Troubleshooting Guide from MJ Freeway.

 4) Walk the Talk… make sure your dispensary is accessible.  Too many dispensary phone lines go to voicemail graveyards.  Make your pharmacists available to caregivers.  As much as possible, collaborate with the caregivers. 

 5) The industry needs to support caregivers.   Currently, public caregiver support is spread thin across a wide area.   At Soulful Cannabis, we’re reimbursing our all-volunteer registration fees and background checks, but we must begin to reimburse caregivers for gas mileage.  That will make them more available to a wider number of patients.

 In 2019, we introduced our Soulful Caregivers Program to provide free access to medical cannabis care-giving services for those who cannot get to a dispensary.   We’ve been supported by industry participants along the way, but its time for industry players to take a leap to the next level.  Whether this is on your own or in partnership with someone like Soulful Cannabis, please take that leap now. We are serving dozens of patients through our program with caregivers all over the state, but we need help to grow the program.    Our aim is to make the cannabis industry be the best version of itself.  If you believe the caregiver program is as valuable as we do, we welcome you to  – and we welcome industry to emulate the work and sponsor our program!

 NOTE: Our internal analysis is based on data shared by the PA Department of Health at a public hearing in 2019 which indicated that average PA dispensary sales are roughly $300/patient per month.  With five caregivers per card, that represents $18,000 in revenue.  Grower-processor revenue is assumed to be 50% of dispensary revenue given industry standard mark-ups.

 

To see our current 2020 Sponsors, please visit our Soulful Caregivers Program Page.   

 

Help us de-stigmatize cannabis while providing access and holding businesses accountable