Organizations in Long Beach, California may have finally figured out a creative way to convince reluctant residents to get a COVID-19 vaccination: How does a free joint sound?
To promote equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and promote safe practices for Long Beach residents, a group of organizations joined forces to launch Joints for Jabs LBC, a one-day-only pop-up vaccine clinic, giving away a free pre-rolled joint to those who take the plunge and get poked.
According to a press release, local organizations joined the Healthy Long Beach campaign in partnership with the Long Beach Collective Association (LBCA) to legally distribute tokens redeemable for one free pre-rolled joint, good only on one day.
Many other “Joints for Jabs” events took place, including one in Union Square Park in New York City last May. Another program approved by the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board on June 7 gave state-licensed cannabis retailers permission to offer one pre-rolled joint in exchange for a vaccination. In Arizona, a dispensary awarded free edibles to customers who received a vaccine.
Last January, Long Beach Forward launched the Healthy Long Beach campaign using door-to-door and direct outreach to spread awareness about COVID-19 resources and promote equitable vaccination practices. The campaign has reached over 10,000 homes to date.
On Saturday, July 24, the first 150 Long Beach residents 21 and older who get vaccinated at the one-day pop-up clinic at Houghton Park will get the hook-up, while supplies last. Children are welcome to receive the vaccine, minus the joint.
“We all want to have a safe summer and enjoy one another’s company even as the pandemic continues on and recreation opens up,” Long Beach Forward’s executive director, James Suazo, said in a statement. “Cannabis is part of our Long Beach culture, and to safely share a joint without contributing to the spread of COVID-19, we must all do our part to get vaccinated. With the delta variant becoming the dominant COVID-19 strain in Los Angeles County, we want our unvaccinated neighbors to catch a free marijuana strain instead so we can protect each other.”
Distrust with the FDA and medical establishment reigns supreme, which is why the LBCA and other organizations hope that this particular perk may be just enough to change a few minds.
“The LBCA supports public health efforts,” the organization stated. “Cannabis products provide safe access to alternative medicine. Supporting vaccination efforts for our communities falls in line with LBCA stance on promoting healthy living and prevention. The LBCA is excited to be a part of this community campaign. The July 24th Jabs for Joints clinic would not be possible without LBCA Members, Cannafame’s Hesh pre-rolls, VRX Labs, and Flight on Cherry dispensary, thank you.”
The one-day clinic will take place on Saturday, July 24 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Houghton Park at 6301 Myrtle Ave, Long Beach CA 90805. Vaccinations and #Joints4JabsLBC tokens will be distributed to the first 150 Long Beach residents in attendance while supplies last. Children and young adults ages 12 to 20 can also receive vaccinations but will not be eligible for #Joints4JabsLBC tokens.
Joints for Jabs: THC in the LBC
Long Beach Forward admits that cannabis is part of the city’s culture. Long Beach is ground zero for a distinct musical sound—notably artists like Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Warren G and Sublime. Like the rest of coastal California, it’s also typically very cannabis-friendly, which is why the campaign could actually work.
As of July 6, 56.3 percent of all Long Beach residents—just over half—received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. But that’s far from the collective goal of herd immunity. As seen across California, Long Beach residents ages 18-34 remain as a significant segment of people who are unvaccinated, with only 51.1 percent being vaccinated according to the City of Long Beach COVID-19 Digital Dashboard.
Adding to the burden, city data also indicate that inequities in vaccinations appear to be defined by zip codes, with 90813, 90805, and 90810 experiencing the lowest vaccination rates between 43 percent to 50 percent, respectively. This could mean that some communities are disadvantaged regarding vaccine resources.
The world’s known COVID-19 death toll surpassed four million earlier this month. And in recent months, it has been dominated by the delta variant. You can still die from COVID-19, especially if you haven’t opted to get the jab.
For more information, visit www.lbforward.org/healthylb.
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications.