A grassroots campaign that is encouraging members of the cannabis community to help homeless people has a twist in its approach. In addition to offering food and personal care items to people on the street, Joints for Homeless suggests that people include a little cannabis in their kindness.
Movement Founded In 2015
Shane Pettas AKA Boppin told High Times that his grandfather taught him to give back to the community and help the homeless when he was a kid. He’s carried on the tradition and said he plans to teach his kids to do the same. While living in Hawaii in 2015, Boppin realized that the people he was helping might appreciate a little herb as well, and he founded Joints for Homeless.
Not long after, Boppin saw a video posted to Instagram by Damien Menendez that showed him sharing weed with homeless people in his hometown of Miami. Menendez’s video inspired Boppin to create a dedicated Joints for Homeless Instagram page. The page now has more than 43,000 followers. But Boppin said that’s not what it’s all about.
“I enjoy giving back to the homeless,” Boppin said. “I’m not doing it for the followers or anything like that. Giving back makes my soul feel good.”
Before long, Menendez became the spokesman for Joints for Homeless. He said that rather than relying on an operational framework or leadership hierarchy, the group is about individual action.
“If you want to be a part of Joints for Homeless, all you really need to do is just go out there and help the homeless in any way you can,” Menendez said.
Videos From Around the World
Menendez says that people from all around the world have taken up the call. New videos are posted with the hashtag #JointsForHomeless every day. He said that he enjoys seeing the videos people email and tag on social media and estimates that more than 100,000 joints have been given to homeless people in the last three years.
“It’s a nice thing seeing people going out of their way to help somebody,” he said.
Menendez encourages people who want to participate to offer more than pot to homeless people by making something he calls “blessing bags.”
“Take a one-gallon Ziploc, and you stick a personal care product in there,” said Menendez. “Some deodorant, a little personal shaving kit, some wet wipes, some socks … and throw in a couple of joints, a bag lunch. Let someone smoke a joint, eat a lunch, clean themselves up before bed.”
Anyone Can Help
Menendez says that he helps someone every day and encourages people to do what they can as often as possible. He has even helped people living on the street find work and secure a place in a shelter.
“You can go out of your way sometimes, like me, if you want to,” he said.
With only medical marijuana being legal in Florida, Menendez acknowledges that giving away cannabis is against the law. But he said he isn’t concerned about being arrested.
“You know, honestly I’m not worried about it. Because what are they going to do?” he said.
Menendez said the philosophy of Joints for Homeless can be summed up in a message he has for the individuals he helps.
“You’re a human being, that’s all we care about. You’re a human being and we just want to make sure you can eat a little bit, wash up a little bit, maybe take a hit or two. Have a chance to lay down and maybe figure out a way out of this situation.”
Menendez said even people who aren’t able to give can show compassion.
“If you want to help a homeless person, just smile at them,” Menendez suggested. “Just smile at a homeless person one time. I guarantee you will get a smile back. Because when you’re on the street for that long, and people walk past you and pretend that they don’t see you, you really start to lose it as a human being.”