Community in Crisis: Canna-Businesses in Las Vegas Respond to Tragedy with Compassion

In the wake of a mass shooting, the city’s newly legal cannabis sector has stepped up to support its customers, while grappling with losses of its own.

Community in Crisis: Canna-Businesses in Las Vegas Respond to Tragedy with Compassion

All photos by the author.

As the nation reels from last week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, which left 58 dead and 489 injured, the city’s newly legalized canna-business community has been working actively to help and heal among both its customers and the city-at-large.

“This really hit home for us because we all have someone who was impacted by the attacks,” said Mikel Alvarez, Director of Retail Operations for Terra Tech, the publicly traded company which owns and operates three Las Vegas locations of their Blüm retail brand. “I felt we couldn’t wait around to contribute. Helping immediately, in any way possible, was simply the right thing to do.”

Alvarez mobilized the Blüm staff to load up their company van and head down to the vigil site near the attacks, where for four nights in a row, team members distributed water and food to first responders, families of victims, and members of the community who had gathered to mourn. “We wanted to do anything at all possible to get involved and provide immediate support."

Ben Sillitoe is the CEO of Oasis Cannabis and has lived in Las Vegas his whole life. “I’ve seen a lot of compassion coming from the people of this town and the cannabis industry is now a part of this city just as much as the gaming and hospitality industries. At Oasis, we’ve been working closely with local fire departments, bringing them food, and coordinating with a local massage school to give neck and shoulder massages to the first responders who were on the scene.”

“This tragedy has deeply affected everyone here. You can definitely feel a heaviness in the air and the sadness is palpable,”  said Adam Denmark Cohen, owner and CEO of Vegas’ Jardín cannabis dispensary.

In the days following the attack, Jardín provided needed relief for the community and offered incentives to those who helped the victims and their families.

Adam Denmark Cohen, Jardín Cannabis

“We’ve been offering free chillums to all customers who donated blood in support of the victims,” said Khrystiana Maldonado, a receptionist and ‘budtender' at Jardín. “It feels good to give people medicinal relief in this time of tragedy."

Zech Lord, Business Development Director for Jardín, noticed a spike in Jardín’s foot traffic (from locals and visitors alike) in the forty-eight hours after the October 1st attack. “I think people are still processing it all right now and just want to alleviate their anxiety.”

The same is true for the industry’s workers. “I’ve been having difficulty sleeping since Sunday night, and my CBD tincture has been helpful in battling the insomnia and relieving the stress of what happened here,” said Maldonado.

Khrystiana Maldonado, Jardín Cannabis

Krista Whitley, CEO of Vegas-based Altitude Products, shared her thoughts on the industry’s response to the massacre. "The Las Vegas cannabis community was directly affected by Sunday night's violent tragedy, losing members [along] with members still in the hospital on the long road to recovery. From dispensaries like Blüm, who have been out on the Las Vegas strip supporting first responders and victims’ families with food and water, to organizations like ours, which donated blood on Monday and delivered food to first responders, the unity of the people in the Las Vegas valley demonstrates that love is a verb.”

She added, “People from every walk of life have given their time, talents, and treasure to come together in support for the victims, their loved ones, the first responders, and for each other. The needs of our community are tremendous, but I am confident that we will overcome this senseless act.”

Written on October 12, 2017 by

Matt Goias

Matt Goias is the creative director of Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica, as well as the MG of Tropical Projects. Follow him at @matt_goias and visit http://mgtropical.com for more.