What started as a tour to celebrate summer and highlight a new line of cannabis edibles transformed into an effort to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the people of Colorado during a series of pop-up vaccination clinics this past weekend.
Wana Brands, a cannabis edibles manufacturer, and The Green Solution, a Colorado-based dispensary chain, partnered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to provide COVID-19 vaccines to the local community during Denver-area stops along Wana’s Summer of Quick Tour.
The tour, which launched in early July to kick off the summer, initially aimed to highlight Wana’s Quick Fast-Acting Gummies. The company set up a van at dispensary locations along the tour to celebrate the new product line.
“It was basically a pop-up in the parking lot, and that was inspired more or less from the post-COVID summer that everybody was really looking forward to,” Kim Gibson, a territory account manager for Wana Brands, told Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary. “They had the vaccinations, and there was this real sense of getting out and everybody being social again.”
As the summer progressed and more information surfaced about the Delta variant of COVID-19, Wana and The Green Solution wanted to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“With the pandemic last year, we saw a lot of folks suffering from different levels of the pandemic, from financial [impacts] to folks who were passing away from COVID,” said Steve Lopez, CEO of The Green Solution. “We always want to help out all the communities that we serve. … We’re trying to increase vaccination rates and trying to make sure we’re doing our part to combat this pandemic.”
Wana approached The Green Solution with the idea to turn some stops along the Summer of Quick Tour into pop-up vaccination clinics.
“We wanted to basically look for other opportunities to make vaccinations available for people in Colorado,” Gibson said. “The consensus was to do it with a dispensary because we could target people where it would be very convenient for them [because] maybe it just wasn’t available to them until now.”
“A lot of things we’ve been hearing out in the news is that a lot of people are not getting vaccinated because of convenience—it’s too far away,” Lopez added. “This gives us the opportunity to take advantage of the traffic that’s coming to our stores to help get us to our level of vaccination rates that are known to make an impact on safety.”
Wana is a fully vaccinated company, Gibson said, and the leadership team is passionate about not only providing a safe working environment for the company’s employees, but also providing support to the local communities it serves.
“For Wana, it was important for us to support our community in offering opportunities for vaccination,” Gibson said. “We value our communities. We want our communities to be safe, and we want them to stay out of harm’s way. In our minds, becoming vaccinated not only serves our local community, but also our state as a whole. It was a unique opportunity that we felt that we should definitely step into and serve as well as we could.”
Since Wana and The Green Solution were already working together on events to showcase Wana’s Quick product line—and since The Green Solution is one of Wana’s largest dispensary partners with 23 locations across Colorado—Gibson said the dispensary chain was a good fit to host the vaccination clinics.
“They definitely had the bandwidth and the structure internally to help support this initiative because there are a lot of moving parts that are involved with putting on one of these events,” she said. “A lot of moving parts had to be connected, and it really takes a strong partnership between the dispensary and the brand to put this into place and make this go off without a hitch.”
The vaccination clinics were held Saturday, Aug. 7 through Monday, Aug. 9 at The Green Solution’s dispensaries in Edgewater, Aurora and Northglenn. The vaccines were administered in a separate tent in the parking lot during what Wana called the “Vaccine Edition” of the Summer of Quick Tour.
“We made a little special edition to highlight these particular stops to emphasize that there were going to be the vaccination clinics available,” Gibson said.
The clinics were generally well-received by the public, she added, with people pre-registering for the vaccinations and walk-ins who saw the tent on-site and were interested in receiving the vaccine.
“It’s really turned into a political thing, which is unfortunate,” Lopez said. “But we’re not political about this. This is not a red or blue state thing for us. … All we’re doing is trying to help out the community. … It just goes back to taking care of our communities and our employees.”
The Green Solution launched its dispensary locations with online ordering and express windows, which Lopez said helped the company comply with the coronavirus-related restrictions that went into effect last year. The dispensary had much of the infrastructure needed for curbside pickup already in place, for example, and is currently looking at ways to offer delivery services.
After seeing the success of the vaccination clinics, other dispensary groups in Colorado have reached out to the Wana team to ask if they can participate in similar events. Gibson said that although Wana has not scheduled any additional clinics at this time, the company is evaluating other opportunities.
“I think it’s even more important that we make these opportunities available for people just as a sign that we’re all in this together,” she said.
“We just are trying to get the word out so that people know, even if you don’t shop with us, you don’t even have to come in or any of that,” Lopez added. “Just come by, and we’ll get you vaccinated."