For Nick DiCenzo, it all started with a problem: He had too much cannabis on his hands. “I had all this flower left over from my personal grow,” the 40-year-old Denver resident told Leafly. “You’re allowed to have six plants in a home grow here in Colorado, and it’s amazing how much one person can produce.”
As an occasional consumer, DiCenzo found himself with a growing supply and only so much personal demand. He wasn’t licensed to grow or sell, so the stuff had no legal commercial value. “I had a bunch of friends sitting around my porch in Denver last summer. We were trying to figure out what to do with it. Somebody said: Why don’t we give it away?”
DiCenzo had a further thought. What if they donated it in a way that would help the local community?
“That’s how Cannamas came about.”
Cannamas was the answer to DiCenzo’s problem. On Christmas Eve he and a handful of volunteers with his nonprofit group Cannabis Can passed out 1,000 joints — more than a pound and a half of Blue Dream and Caramelicious — to the homeless on the streets of Denver. It was a way, DiCenzo said, to both brighten the holiday for the less fortunate and bring some attention to the problems faced by those living on the streets.
Done and done. The 5-hour gifting tour garnered attention from local television stations as well as coverage in the New York Daily News, the Washington Times and Russia Today. Word on the street was good too. “Merry Christmas and a puff puff, New Year’s,” said one happy recipient.
Giving is easy. The hard part’s the rolling — and logistics.
How do you give away 1,000 joints? It’s tougher than you might think. Because first you have to roll 1,000 joints.
“We had a cannabis roll-a-thon the Sunday before Christmas,” DiCenzo said. About a dozen friends and volunteers, most with little rolling experience, spent nearly twelve hours grinding, sprinkling, and twisting. Chris Hill, founder of the Great American Rolling Paper Co., donated rolling machines and papers. “It took a lot longer than we thought,” DiCenzo said. “And without those rollers we wouldn’t have made it to 1,000.”
Then came the logistics. It’s legal to give away a single joint in Colorado. But an individual can possess no more than one ounce, so you can’t just lug hundreds of joints in a shopping bag down Colfax Avenue. “It was really tricky,” DiCenzo said. “Depending on how they’re rolled, thirty to fifty joints together contained an ounce. So we had to have a team of runners to refill our supply as we walked the streets.”
The volunteers met up around 11 a.m. at Sancho’s Broken Arrow, a Deadhead bar on East Colfax, and made their way west toward the Capitol Building, Broadway and the Catholic Charities building near Speer Boulevard. It took about 5 hours to give away every last gift.
DiCenzo isn’t your typical philanthropist. He doesn’t come from money, and he hasn’t made a lot of money. He works occasionally in film production and manages an Airbnb for his family. He’s just a guy who found himself sitting on a pile of cannabis and wanted to do something to help the homeless folks he met in Denver. His giveaway reaped a heap of free media but so far hasn’t resulted in an avalanche of donations for the homeless cause.
“We ran into a lot of people who wanted to give us donations, something for Cannabis Can,” DiCenzo said, “but we couldn’t accept,” because that could be considered an unlicensed sale.
Instead he’s asking donors to hit up the group’s GoFundMe campaign, “Restrooms & Grooms,” which is raising money to offer free showers and haircuts to Denver’s homeless. DiCenzo is hoping to raise $10,000 to purchase and retrofit an RV with showers and a hair-styling station. “When we talk with people on the street, so many of them mention the need for a haircut and regular showers,” DiCenzo said. “It’s one of the biggest obstacles they face in getting employment.”
A few days after Christmas, DiCenzo was out looking at a used RV priced around $700. “It was in terrible condition, but I gotta start somewhere,” he said. “Maybe I can renovate it and get it down to a parking lot where we can offer these services. If we can do that, then this whole thing will be a success.”