Like most medical marijuana dispensaries, Granny Purps in Soquel, CA sometimes struggles with an image problem. While it genuinely believes it’s helping people, pot remains illegal at the federal level and the “stoner” culture often stigmatizes what is otherwise a legitimate operation.

However, Granny Purps is trying to redeem itself in the eyes of the public. For the second year in a row, it’s feeding the less-fortunate by offering an unusual trade — one free joint for every six cans of donated food.

“It helps feed tons of people,” says Nancy Black, sales manager at Granny Purps. Since the joints usually cost $10 each, which must be paid for out-of-pocket, the program also “helps people who sometimes can’t get their medication on their own.”

But good deed or not, some groups won’t accept the food because it comes from a marijuana dispensary and they’re afraid of public backlash. Black says that 12,000 pounds of food was rejected by a local food bank last year, and although Granny Purps was hurt and upset, it had little trouble finding an alternative recipient.

“The issue can be a hot potato,” admits Linda Lovelace (no relation to the legendary porn star), operations director for Valley Churches United Missions. Though, she adds that when there’s a real need to feed the hungry, any possible stigma attached to the source of donations becomes less important.

“The demand is so high that the food is coming in one door and going out the other as fast as it’s coming in,” she says. “We’re just feeding people.”

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