Cannabis Club

Photo courtesy of Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson, left, and Mary Lou Molinaro, right, co-founded a cannabis discussion club at Trilogy at the Vineyards to bring awareness to its medical benefits.

When Kyle Johnson heard several fellow residents at Trilogy at the Vineyards were experiencing chronic pain, she wanted to do something.

Johnson — who now uses cannabis for insomnia — and her co-founder, Mary Lou Molinaro, started doing research. Other residents, such as retired nurses, spoke of long-suffered back and feet issues. The more Johnson spoke to others within the community, she realized people could benefit from being aware of other treatment options.

She acknowledges there’s a stigma around using cannabis — even for medical reasons — and she thinks education and discussion can only help.

Johnson realized another senior community, Rossmoor in Walnut Creek, had a cannabis discussion club, and she wanted to do something similar.

“I want people to know what options might be available, whether they need them now or in the future,” Johnson said.

She decided to start a cannabis discussion club in her community at Trilogy. At its first interest meeting, 160 people showed up. Since then, attendance varies, but they get around 30-50 people at monthly meetings.

Meetings center around discussion, education and featured monthly speakers. This month’s speaker is Sara Payan, a cannabis educator, public policy advocate, writer and consultant experienced in hands-on patient research.

The club’s mission is “to provide residents with educational opportunities to explore the multitude of health conditions that can be safely treated with cannabis.”

Johnson emphasizes that she isn’t a medical professional or expert and doesn’t offer medical advice; she has simply done research and encourages others to do the same.

“You should always speak to your medical doctor, just like with any other concern,” she said. “You need to go through that process.”

Johnson said Californians are fortunate since cannabis usage is legal in the state, as of Jan. 1, 2018. However, because the law is new, and dispensaries are approved by individual cities, everyone doesn’t have the same access — which is the case for Brentwood residents.

“The biggest challenge in East Contra Costa County is resources,” Johnson said, noting the closest dispensaries are in Vallejo, Berkeley and Oakland, though a new dispensary is expected to open in Antioch in the next few months.

Local delivery is legally permitted through individual dispensaries, but not through the U.S. Postal Service.

Johnson hopes the club will continue growing and that awareness improves, noting the process of learning about medical cannabis usage is a “self-educating” one. There is a wealth of information online, but she urges individuals to use caution and always consult a medical professional.

The Trilogy at the Vineyards Cannabis Discussion Club meets the fourth Monday of the month at 7 p.m., in the front half of the Mount Diablo Events Center (MDEC). For more information about the club, visit Trilogy’s internal website, or email Kyle Johnson at