22 May 31 - June 6, 2012
Palm Springs Safe Access – A Game Changer
by Jackie Devereaux
“Get the Greed Out of Weed” Palm Springs - “Finally someone is doing it right,” said an anonymous patient as she was handed her prescription of medical marijuana in a white paper bag with Rx markings. “I’m a cancer survivor and I cannot afford the medicine but these people filled my prescription pro bono. I just love them,” she added with tears in her eyes. Robert Van Roo, 26, of San Francisco along with co-founders Cody Henderson, 34, and Alice Jensen, 47, bring their magic formula for a medical marijuana dispensary to the desert as Palm Springs Safe Access. These three entrepreneurs have changed the game and offer what appears to be the first, complete, altruistic co-operative dispensary in the Coachella Valley. “We are operating as a not-for-profit, “ Van Roo said. “This is for the people and by the people.” He intends to give all profits after operational costs and salaries back to the community by donating to local charities, sponsoring initiatives and supplying needy patients. “I like what Kim Quiggle, a proponent of Proposition 215 says: ‘Get the greed out of weed.’” Proposition 215 is the 1996 Compassionate Use Act legalizing medical marijuana in California.
“It’s all about compassion,” he said. “It’s all about community. The medicine affords the opportunity to give back and we are doing it in a new way.” Indeed they are. PS Safe Access aspires to demonstrate just how dispensaries should be run, and they’re doing it in a very classy way. Van Roo and his partners opened the massive 10,000 square foot complex on March 23 and have big plans for the future. Those plans include an upscale interior renovation of the entire building located at 505 East Industrial Place. The previous tenant, CannaHelp, operated there as one of only three dispensaries in the city granted a business license. Now, another fourth business license is up for grabs and the city council is up in the air about which dispensary will win it. Van Roo has invited Mayor Steve Pougnet and the City Council to tour the new facility. They are expected to issue that fourth business license at an undetermined date in the future.Van Roo hopes the city gives PS Safe Access fair consideration but worries that other senior applicants may have priority. While they wait for the city’s decision, renovations are underway upstairs in the 900 sq. ft. yoga studio. There is a section with several smaller rooms for Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Massage
and Reiki treatments. Van Roo will offer salaried positions for each alternative health care provider, as well as, two paid yoga instructors. He expects to offer free yoga classes every two hours by the end of June. He’s looking for volunteers to help with the yoga studio, art gallery and other duties at the co-op. Van Roo admits to a deeply personal motivation behind his co-operative saga. His commitment comes from when he worked at a state run Level 14 group home for mentally-ill children. He learned compassion first-hand from the traumas and tragedies of those patients and from an experience that changed his life forever. Van Roo suffered a severe neck and back injury trying to restrain a patient attacking a female therapist. Consequently, he became addicted to prescription drugs starting first with Vicodin and ending with Valium. His life had become unmanageable until he discovered natural, organic, alternative pain remedies, including marijuana, which enabled him to withdrawal and stop using prescription drugs. “I couldn’t work on pharmaceuticals. I didn’t have a life. The medicine allows me to have a life,” he said. Van Roo expects to carry 50 strains of medical cannabis each tested by SC Laboratories for chemicals, molds and pesticides before being offered to the
public. “We have a link on Weed Maps that shows all our strains and their test results. It’s important to know your medicine and make sure it’s not harming you,” he said. The lobby interior architectural design consists of bright white, glossy floors and walls lined with iridescent blue LED lighting in geometric patterns mimicking the desert mountains Two elegant 65-gallon salt water aquariums create a serene and flowing atmosphere in the lobby. As Ernest Hemingway would say: “It’s a clean, well-lighted place.” Adjacent to the lobby, a newlyrenovated 700-sq. ft. patient art gallery and community room is accented with high-end track lighting, custom woodwork and wood floors, and will be used by local non-profits for intimate gatherings, meetings, classes or workshops. Van Roo envisions the room being used for foster care classes, cancer survivor meetings, as well as, HIV-AIDS, leukemia and other health care support groups. “The sky’s the limit. We are changing the game in the desert.” For more information, go to www. psaccess.org, or call 760-778-1309.
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Desert Star May 31, 2012