(Pictured above: Frank Shaw in front of Sira's Somerville dispensary location)
The geographic diversity of the program’s footprint gives a greater number of HIV/AIDS patients the opportunity to the financial benefits of the Frank’s Friends Initiative. Sira Naturals in Somerville, Verilife in Wareham, Rise in Amherst, and Happy Valley in Gloucester are the MTCs currently partnered with the Frank’s Friends Initiative. Canna Care Docs, MedWell Health, and Canna~Wise are participating healthcare providers providing the Frank’s Friends discount on medical marijuana certifications and renewals via telemedicine or in person in 18 municipalities.
In Massachusetts medical marijuana has been legal since 2012 but the costs associated with medical marijuana are not covered by health insurance. Low-income HIV/AIDS patients in many cases have been unable to afford the high costs associated with acquiring medical marijuana. “I developed this initiative to honor and respect the legacy of those we’ve lost by giving HIV/AIDS patients with financial hardships a 50% discount on medical marijuana so they can actually afford their medicine.” said Frank H. Shaw, of the Frank’s Friends Initiative. Frank encourages individuals to share information about this initiative with friends, loved ones, and community members this World AIDS Day. The HIV/AIDS community is a diverse population and through the use of social networking and media campaigns the Frank’s Friends Initiative will be working to reach a greater number of HIV/AIDS patients in need of assistance in 2021.
Sira Naturals was the first organization to partner with the Frank’s Friends Initiative at their MTC in Somerville. In a statement the Sira Naturals Team commented on the program, “Since January 2020, Sira has been honored to offer a HIV/AIDS discount through the Frank’s Friends Initiative. The movement for medical cannabis owes its very existence to the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities, whose activism paved the way for future programs throughout the US. Locally, Frank’s diligent efforts and commitment to improving aspects of the commonwealth’s medical cannabis program have benefited and will continue to benefit tens of thousands of patients. Thank you, Frank, for your unwavering dedication to helping those who need it most.”
“Verilife is honored to be participating in the Frank's Friends program and providing low cost medication for those in need,” said Shelley Stormo, Verilife Executive Director & Founder. " Please call our outreach representative, Tom Davenport at (508)245-4281, for additional information on obtaining a medical card or with questions on eligibility for the Frank’s Friends program. We can't wait to see you at Verilife!" A dditionally, Verilife makes medical marijuana accessible to patients living on the Cape by providing home delivery, including Provincetown on Sunday’s. Provincetown has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS diagnosed individuals of any town in Massachusetts and no operational medical marijuana dispensary.
After debuting the initiative at MTCs Frank was approached by several healthcare providers. Frank altered his initiative to include their participation which strengthened the program overall. “Since the beginning of the year, Canna Care Docs has been proud to support the Frank’s Friends Initiative by offering 50% off of the list price for medical certifications and renewals for qualifying individuals,” says Stephanie Gluchacki, President of Clinical Operations. These partnerships allow qualifying patients to receive the Frank’s Friends discount at the doctor's office as well as the medical dispensary. “Everyone deserves access to a better quality of life, and we are thrilled to be able to provide that opportunity to low income HIV/AIDS patients through our scholarship program with the Franks Friends Initiative.” said Rob Durante, President of MedWell Health & Wellness.
By World AIDS Day 2021, the goal is for access to the Frank’s Friends Initiative to expand into areas like the Berkshires, Worcester, and the Islands to be within reach of all of those who qualify. The Frank’s Friends Initiative will be reaching out to organizations across the state throughout 2021 that serve the HIV/AIDS community to help those who are in the most need receive access to the medical marijuana program in Massachusetts. More information about the Frank’s Friends Initiative and enrollment details can be found at compassionforpatients.com/franks-friends-initiative
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