Residents of Long Beach, California, ages 21 and older who get inoculated at an upcoming pop-up clinic will receive a token redeemable for one pre-rolled marijuana joint “to encourage equitable distribution of the COVID vaccine,” organizers say.
The incentive, called “Joints for Jabs LBC,” also aims to “promote safe practices for Long Beach residents to light up this Summer.”
Long Beach is known for being the home of rappers like Snoop Dogg and reggae rock band Sublime, whose music has popularized the drug in American society.
“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,” said James Suazo, executive director with Long Beach Forward, a non-profit that supports the city’s low-income communities of color. “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.”
The one-day clinic will take place on Saturday, July 24, from 9 am to 1 pm at Houghton Park. Organizers say vaccinations and redeemable tokens will be provided to the first 150 residents. No cannabis will be at the vaccine site, and workers are required the verify identification multiple times during the process. Children and young adults ages 12 to 20 can also get shots but won’t receive a free marijuana cigarette.
According to the Long Beach Post, “The shots will be administered by employees from the city’s health department, but the city is not co-sponsoring the event.” The outlet reported, “Vaccination rates have slowed in the past few months, with 66.8% of eligible residents over 12 in the city being vaccinated.”
The effort is in partnership with the Long Beach Collective Association, a non-profit cannabis trade and advocacy organization whose members include cannabis dispensaries, social equity candidates, and activists.
The Long Beach Post reported:
Events offering free cannabis products in exchange for vaccines are not new, but this is the first time one has happened in Long Beach. Other states like Washington, Arizona, New York and even Washington, D.C. have all seen similar events.
About 4,000 joints were doled out in exchange for vaccines at an event held by cannabis activists on April 20 in New York, according to a report by Forbes.
There has been a recent uptick of coronavirus infections reported in L.A. County attributed to the Delta variant.
On Wednesday, the L.A. County Department of Public Health reported nine more deaths and 1,315 new cases. It was the sixth consecutive day health officials have recorded more than 1,000. In addition, authorities reported 398 hospitalizations of people diagnosed with COVID-19, up from 275 a week ago.
L.A. County is the most populous in the nation, with more than ten million residents. Since the pandemic began, county officials have identified 1,261,068 positive cases and 24,563 deaths.
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