Once upon a time in modern-day L.A., a group of generous DIY do-gooders looked at the city’s rampant homeless problem, and then at the city’s flourishing weed industry, and decided to use the latter to help the former. What’s become known as Weed the Homeless isn’t a fancy operation: It’s as simple as handing out weed, in addition to clothing, food, toiletries and other essentials, to people living on the street.
The movement began on Thanksgiving 2017 when cannabis activist and entrepreneur Jackie Sponseller, a self-proclaimed “international epileptic stoner,” was home alone in Venice and wanted to give back. “Ever since I was a little teenage stoner, I used to want to have so much weed that someday I could just give it away,” she jokes.
That fantasy eventually became a reality for Sponseller, who, having been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10, set out to heal herself and others with medical marijuana. The California native moved abroad to Israel, eventually building a cannabis empire centered around her various projects, including Kaya Seeds, Daily Dab TV and Queendom Canna.
In between jetsetting abroad and back home, Sponseller now is spearheading the fourth installment of Weed the Homeless this weekend on Skid Row.
The night before the first Weed the Homeless, Sponseller invited over a handful of friends to bake edibles and roll joints for charity. For subsequent installments, she had friends in the industry donate oils, prerolls and other products as well.
“The homeless get tears in their eyes. They’re used to people calling them druggies and looking down at them — they’re not used to getting weed from people,” Sponseller says. “What’s inspiring too is with the whole Jeff Sessions thing — ‘good people don’t smoke weed’ — I’m pro the idea of stoners giving back, being a good example in society.”
Homelessness in L.A. has surged 75 percent in the past six years, affecting about 55,000 of our fellow Angelenos. Less than 30 percent of L.A.’s homeless people have access to any kind of legitimate shelter. At a time when there’s so much excitement around L.A.’s cannabis green rush, it only makes sense to use some of that weed money for a cause that’s so desperately acute in the world capital of the Weed Industry.
Published: May 07, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News