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In the Aftermath of the Valley Fire, a Santa Rosa Provider Steps Up

Shortly after midday on September 12, the third-worst fire in California history ripped through Lake County. In less than 24 hours, the blaze had engulfed 50,000 acres, eventually claiming four lives, injuring four firefighters, and consuming more than 76,000 acres by the time it was finally contained nearly a month later.

"The Valley Fire was terrifying in the speed with which it burned,” says Michael Hayes, director of CBD Guild, which manufactures high-quality extracts under the brands Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts. “Many of our friends and neighbors live there. Simply put, we were scared for them. We were saddened to see whole communities go up in smoke and thousands of people displaced.”

Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts leapt to action, rolling out the Valley Fire Relief Program, which offered free medicine to victims. To participate, residents simply had to present one of four dispensaries with their valid prescription along with proof that their address was located within the evacuation zone.

“It was a spontaneous and impromptu thing,” Hayes explains. “We know many people in the Cobb Mountain and Lake County areas who had been displaced and didn’t know the status of their homes. These were neighbors and friends, so we began to think about what we could do not just as individuals but as a company. This region is the Cannabis Heartland. So it was right that the industry step up. It was just the right thing to do.”

The providers began with a first installment of $20,000, but the four dispensaries in the program quickly exhausted the supply and asked for more. Care By Design and AbsoluteXtracts were glad to oblige. “We ultimately distributed over $50,000 of free medicine to fire victims, and we were happy to do so,” Hayes says.

Patients in the affected area were using cannabis products for everything from mood disorders to pain and inflammation relief. In many cases, they had to evacuate their homes without time to collect their medicine. He points to one patient—a young mother who suffers from epilepsy—as an exemplary user of the program. Prior to using Care By Design’s 18:1 spray, she suffered up to three seizures today. Now, she goes weeks without one. That all could have changed had she found herself in an evacuation center with her three children and no access to her prescription.

Despite the positive response, Hayes cautions that the effects of the fire don’t end there. Though the status may read “contained” on official reports, the flames aren’t out. The blaze still burns.