New initiative launches to help patients get access to affordable cannabis

Many people swear by the benefits of medical marijuana, including one man from the North Shore.

Frank Shaw of Ipswich has launched Frank’s Friends Initiative. He’s working with dispensaries to make cannabis products more affordable for patients with AIDS/HIV.

For 20 years, Shaw has had AIDS, which has created terrible foot pain. Prescription drugs didn’t provide relief, but cannabis has. The only problem was the price. Medical marijuana isn’t covered by insurance.

“I realized that I was having trouble affording the medicines and I realized that other people were in the same situation,” said Shaw.

Working with the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, Shaw came up with the idea to launch Frank’s Friends Initiative. The goal is help indigent patients with AIDS/HIV get access to medical marijuana.

“They have trouble dealing with sleeping and pain other things and cannabis help very well on that,” explained Shaw. “The opioids from pharmaceuticals sometimes don’t work.”

To qualify for this program, a patient must be a Massachusetts resident and possess a medical marijuana card. Documentation of an AIDS/HIV diagnosis and financial hardship are required. All products are then 50% off.

“It really was a no-brainer for us to launch Frank’s Friends Initiative,” said Michelle Foley of Sira Naturals, which was the first dispensary to partner with Shaw.

Foley says they believe cannabis can help many people.

“You know, unfortunately there is still such a stigma around cannabis, and I think that’s just because the industry is so new and has been underground for so long, but the reality is that so many people get relief from cannabis, whether it’s for a medical condition, whether it’s for self care or they want to relax.”

Frank’s Friends Initiative has now spread to other dispensaries. Shay says that’s bringing relief to a lot of patients.

“A number of people told me thank you very much for doing this for them.”

Sira Naturals also offers a discount to veterans and seniors, as well one for people who can prove financial hardship.