Michigan Cannabis company founder wants to get products in the hands of seniors
For the Love of Charlie Founder Shares Vision of Life-Changing Cannabis Benefits with Seniors at Baldwin House Senior Living.
Tucker Jasso, the founder of the company For the Love of Charlie, had a message for a group of nearly 30 seniors in Hazel Park on a recent August afternoon: "I'm here to tell you how much this could change your life."
The lives she wants to change on this day are those of residents of Baldwin House Senior Living in Hazel Park, many of whom joined Jasso’s late afternoon presentation Wednesday via wheelchair or with the assistance of a walker or the senior living facility staff.
The way she wants to change their lives is with cannabis, or what she calls "medicine."
Who is Charlie
Jasso started her Vassar, Michigan-based cannabis company six months ago, though she said she has been working on launching this company for the past decade.
The idea for it came to her when her neighbor, Charlie, the person the company is named for, was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and was given about a year to live.
A conversation a few months later with Charlie’s wife, Sue, revealed that Charlie wasn’t doing well and was in hospice. Jasso said she asked Sue whether they had thought about medical marijuana and Sue said while they had talked about it, they had no idea where to get it. Jasso said she told Sue she'd make a few calls and found somebody with a caregiver card who went to a dispensary and got Charlie some products.
Jasso dropped them off at Charlie’s house, and a few days later, Jasso said, Sue called and asked whether she could get more products because they were helping with his pain. The next time Jasso dropped off the marijuana products, she was shocked to see Charlie, who answered the door and gave her a big hug and thanked her.
Charlie was able to live another six weeks with a good quality of life, Jasso said, and through that experience, Jasso said she found her life passion. She closed her business and started researching and learning how to manufacture medical marijuana.
'Everybody in this room has pain'
That story immediately connected Tina Abbate Marzolf, chief operating officer of Baldwin House Senior Living, to Jasso.
"Her story was so familiar: Helping someone who is dying,” Marzolf said. “There are people that are dying in these buildings."
From there, the idea to do a series of seminars was born. Jasso would explain the benefits of medical marijuana, answer questions and provide samples.
"I knew that it's a touchy subject and it's controversial," Marzolf said. "But we also have a building full of people that have a lot of health issues."
At the seminar Wednesday at Baldwin House, residents and staff wanted to know what CBD (cannabidiol, which is the second most common cannabinoid after THC) can do for pain, if medical marijuana is covered by insurance and whether you can use cannabis if you’re on other medications.
"Everybody in this room has pain," Jasso said. "That's what we all need this for. We're older. We have joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, colitis. We have all these different problems. That's what we're here for. … I can tell you, being old doesn't have to hurt so much."
Some residents pushed back on the idea of using the products. One resident said when he consumed marijuana, the THC (short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the "high" sensation) caused him to be paranoid and he hid in the corner of his closet. He was skeptical that other components of marijuana, such as CBD, could be separated from the THC, or that taking a lower dose product wouldn’t make him paranoid.
Willing to give it a try, maybe
Marzolf estimated about half the audience Wednesday believed in the potential benefits of marijuana. One resident played solitaire on her phone throughout the presentation.
But conversations with several residents following the seminar, indicated they were interested in giving the products a try.
Sandra Talley, 70, recently had surgery but it's arthritis that she struggles with most.
“My arthritis everywhere else is giving me the blues,” Talley said. “I don’t take all those powerful drugs. I don’t want what they (doctors) have to give out. I don’t want the opioids and all of that.”
Talley said she was going to give For the Love of Charlie samples a try.
Patricia Merchant, 62, said she had a pinched nerve and was given a product by someone close to her containing marijuana and was told to take half to help relieve the pain. Merchant did what she was instructed but said she could see herself come down off a cloud, so she wants to do more research to see whether For the Love of Charlie products are right for her before she would consume them.
Diane Hamilton, 73, also has tried marijuana products and recently visited a dispensary and bought a tube of gummies for $25, hoping to ease what she called extreme pain in her leg. She didn’t notice any difference after consuming them, though.
She said she would try the For the Love of Charlie products, depending on the price.
“We’re seniors on fixed incomes,” Hamilton said. “I can’t allocate $60 in my budget every month for CBD.”
At the end of the seminar, Jasso felt hopeful that she could make a difference in some of these seniors’ lives. Having given a few of these presentations to seniors on a more informal basis, she said that she feels like God has given her this gift to help people.
“When somebody calls me and says, ‘I was able to go and visit my family and I didn’t even have to use my wheelchair,’ what a feeling that is,” Jasso said.
Jasso sells CBD products online at CharlieCBD.org and her products, some of which contain THC, also are sold at several marijuana dispensaries such as Liv Cannabis in Lake Orion and Mission Dispensaries and House of Evolution in Ann Arbor, among others. A medical marijuana card isn’t required to buy her products.