POST CATEGORY: Access, Profiles

What they bring to the table

September 02, 2012 | WES ABNEY

Only minutes from the Oregon border, the MEDI-BROTHERS COLLECTIVE out of Vancouver, Wash. are serving patients the only way they can: by delivery.

In the 19th and early 20th century, family doctors would often travel to treat their homebound patients, bringing along their medicines and wares in a kit.

    The practice of mobile doctoring largely died out as the 20th century progressed, until the resurgence of medical Cannabis during the past decade. Home deliveries of medicine have become common again.

   In Vancouver, Wash.,  a pair of brothers has taken the delivery model for medical marijuana and driven with it, literally. Their delivery service provides for 75 to 150 patients on weekdays, and up to 300 on weekends. Because Vancouver and the surrounding region lacks a storefront collective, the work of the Medi-Brothers Collective is even more valuable. Without them, almost all the patients would be forced to risk the black market and the streets or go on sans medicine. It is a cause that hits home with the brothers, both of whom use Cannabis medicinally.

     "We've put our heart and soul into this," said Mike, one of the two brothers. "We provide a patient-to-patient service in a safe and secure way." To keep access alive in Vancouver takes a lot of work. 

    Medi Brother Collective requires five delivery cars just to split the mileage and maintain a low profile. Two are always running, with the staff of five taking rotating shifts to manage the workload. But, as the brothers will admit, there's more to the business than delivering meds.

     "Beyond the patients we serve are the phone calls we get," Marcus said laughing. "We almost spend more time answering questions than making deliveries. But we like it like that. It's a family business, and we'll spend the time helping explain to a little old lady how to medicate."

    But don't be fooled. Once the calls start, the work doesn't stop. "As soon as we get a call the word goes out: 'Grab your kit,' " Mike said. Each patient is asked for the necessary information to verify them, just as is done in a storefront collective, and cleared for delivery. 

      But the driver still must deal with the uncertainty of each interaction. The service has never been harassed by police officers or robbed, though the possibility is always looming. Even with the mounting pressures, the call to help exceeds the risk. 

     "I'm more scared of being robbed than being bugged by the police because we're legal with the state," said Mike. "Still, I can't not do it. I have to help the people in my community, the place we grew up."

     Each time drivers go out,  they take a pre-issued kit with them. To coin the kit a mobile access point is to put it simply. But the deliveries represent far more in the effect they have on the patients' lives. Each drivers kit contains up to the maximum legal limit of 24 dry flower ounces split among an average of 20 strains, one to two coolers full of medibles and a healthy selection of concentrates.

     "The kits weigh about 70 pounds total of equipment and medicine that we take to the door. That means at each house they deliver to, the kit has to be pulled from the car, toted up inside and opened for display, repacked and then loaded back into the trunk of the car," Marcus said. "After that, it's on to the next stop."

    The delivery service experience for the average Vancouver patient is both surprising and appreciated. Many have never been inside a dispensary and have had limited access to the full line of products that patients in Seattle and Tacoma do. The personal service and doorstep courtesy doesn't hurt either.

For the brothers, sharing the medicine has become a way of life. Both use medical Cannabis therapy to overcome several health issues, which served as the motivation to start the deliveries. 

     In fact, you could say it all started with a sucker. Marcus' search for a way to medicate that preserved the healing properties of the flower led him to a Rick Simpson Oil extraction. It ended up working perfectly in cooking. From there, the first product tested was the suckers. Mike was in the hospital at the time and stuck taking over 10 different pills, the side-effects of which were taking a toll.

     "I fought type 2 diabetes, had high blood pressure, sleep apnea and more chronic illnesses. When you weigh 400 pounds, you hurt everywhere," Mike explained. "I found that if I could eat three suckers a day I would feel good and needed fewer pain pills. Eventually, I got off all the pills and meds. Now I only use Cannabis."

    By replacing pain medicine with the suckers, Mike noticed immediate results. Months later, both brothers had lost more than 100 pounds and removed the toxic pills through Cannabis therapy. For Marcus, the results have been nothing short of incredible.

"CBD and THC. It's what saved me. As soon as I laid off the pills, I went from 350 pounds to 250."

    Now the two are on a mission to share their message -- and suckers -- with everybody possible. The delivery service is rapidly expanding, along with the medicated product line offered by the brothers. In addition to the in-house grown strains are the incredible edibles. There are 78 flavors of suckers so far and dozens of chocolate confections sure to delight the taste buds and satisfy medicinally.

    Even with the success of the delivery service, the brothers are looking to the future. Vancouver city officials have taken a political stance against allowing medical Cannabis access through storefront collectives, which led the brothers to take their different route of providing for their patients.

     "The city is single-handedly stopping 15,000 to 20,000 potential patients from accessing medicine through a storefront," Mike said. "We've sat with the mayor and offered complete transparency. Since they don't want a storefront, we've hit the delivery system. We will get patients their medicine."

     Even with the tremendous risk and liability incurred by the brothers sending medicine out with drivers, they will not look back. For them, the risk is worth the reward of ensuring patients safe access to medicine. Like Mike said, he can't not do it.

For more information: (360) 258-0764

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