Harborside Health Center, one of San Jose's largest cannabis collectives, will host a blood drive for the American Red Cross on Tuesday. It's almost certainly the first time that a local medical marijuana dispensary has sponsored such a bloodletting, but after Harborside officials laid claim to being the first Red Cross pot spot in the agency's 129-year history, some confusion set in.
A Red Cross spokeswoman said there was no way to verify that. Then a Harborside spokeswoman said the Red Cross had approved the news release in which the claim was made.
In any case, the event Tuesday will take place from noon to 6 p.m. For anyone who feels lightheaded after giving blood, there will be munchies.
Harborside is part of a coalition of medicinal cannabis clinics seeking a regulatory ordinance from San Jose's City Council. But because the Red Cross has a policy of remaining politically neutral, top officials at the relief agency's Washington, D.C., office had to approve the event. Mona Helmhold, a local Red Cross representative, inspected the facility and found that it met the requirements for a blood drive.
Initially, Red Cross officials had misgivings about drawing blood from patients who were dosing themselves with marijuana, according to spokeswoman Sara O'Brien. The drug's active ingredient, THC, reaches the brain through the bloodstream. A ruling by the agency's head nurse determined that "as long as they are not at that moment high," Harborside patients can donate blood, O'Brien said.
Harborside dispenses cannabis by prescription to patients who typically suffer from conditions such as chronic pain, glaucoma, migraines, arthritis, cancer and AIDS. The dispensary has already signed up 30 donors, according to spokeswoman Gaynell Rogers.
Potential donors may call 866-236-3276 or 408-321-8424 to find out if they qualify. Information also is available at www.redcrossblood.org. Harborside Health Center is at 2106 Ringwood Ave.
By Bruce Newman
Posted: 06/11/2010 05:01:35 PM PDT
Updated: 06/11/2010 08:56:13 PM PDT