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First cannabis charity launches in Canada

Hope for Health, a Toronto-based charity, has been launched as the first cannabis charity registered by the Canadian government. The charity is registered in the category of organizations whose intention is the “advancement of education.”

Hope for Health says it aims to enable patients to manage their health effectively while also giving them the autonomy to choose which cannabis products and cannabis producers to deal with.

The charity kick-started its operations amidst fears that medical marijuana patients are getting reduced attention as more attention is directed towards the recreational market. This is seen in the rising medical marijuana product prices. Access points for medical cannabis are also reducing while a new excise tax on marijuana prices has also been imposed on medical marijuana products. This excise tax can only be waived on the product price if the company selling medical marijuana products opts to absorb that cost.

To alleviate this increased cost of medical marijuana products, Hope for Health has decided to avail a renewable monthly stipend to patients who meet the eligibility criteria of the charity. This stipend is conditioned upon the patient purchasing their medical marijuana products from one of the 170 producers licensed by the Canadian federal government.

Hope for Health intends to take on at least 150 patients during its first year of operation. More patients will be onboarded each year and the number will vary depending on the resources available as well as the level of interest displayed by patients.

The charity doesn’t only have its eyes on patients. Hope for Health plans to create and disseminate educational materials to health care professionals about the medicinal benefits of marijuana. This will be done in conjunction with creating partnerships with research organizations, academic institutions and medical associations.

Hope for Health is the brainchild of Auxly Cannabis Group, an entity that provides financing to cannabis cultivators. Auxly Cannabis Group has committed itself to availing funding that they are calling “a cornerstone donation.” The funds will be used to get the charity on its feet.

Hugo Alves, the director of Hope for Health, remarked that the idea of the charity was conceived three years ago. The founders felt that every entity which had reaped from the cannabis industry in the country would rally around the idea and support its operations.

The founders also strongly felt that the leadership and management of the charity should be independent if Hope for Health is to retain its appeal to all players in the industry. To this end, they selected Dr. Jenna Valleriana as the Executive Director of the charity.

Dr. Valleriana is a respected cannabis policy expert who heads the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education. She recently published a cannabis education toolkit which was used by two other organizations to design digital tools aimed at educating students and parents about marijuana.

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