RIO RANCHO — On Saturday, Aug. 26, Altitude, a local cannabis dispensary in Rio Rancho, hosted a blood drive event to give back to the community.

“Our community’s support means everything to us; without them, we wouldn’t be here,” co-owner and budtender Joseph Padilla said. “Thank you to our blood donors; you guys rock.”

The event was held at the Altitude location, and Altitude partnered with nonprofit blood bank Vitalant New Mexico to put on the event which they dubbed “Blood For Bud.”

“Blood for Bud was able to successfully donate just over 17 pints of blood. For our first-ever blood drive, I think that’s pretty awesome.” Padilla said. “I encourage everyone to donate blood if they’re able to. It’s a very selfless thing to do, and it actually is so simple.”

Both cannabis users and non-cannabis users came out to donate blood.

“Altitude is more than just a dispensary. Our patients have become like family to us,” Padilla said. “If you’re a new or seasoned cannabis user, we welcome you to our Altitude community with open arms.”

According to Vitalant’s website, Summer blood donations have significantly decreased this year, and there are now critical shortages of blood.

“Two of the owners are registered nurses as well, so they know how important these donations are and how many lives it could help save!” partner Alexis Villegas-Gutierrez said.

In July, the American Red Cross stated that it collected about 50,000 fewer blood donations than needed.

Altitude is hoping to make the “Blood for Bud” blood drive an annual event.

“The support from our community, and customers, means everything to us,” Villegas-Gutierrez said. “It’s because of them that we are able to hold events like this that will hopefully grow every year.”

Two other businesses making pop-up appearances were Elevated, a cannabis extraction and manufacturing company based in Albuquerque, and Pharmers Quality, a New Mexican brand of cannabis concentrates and confections.

The event also consisted of games, discounts on supplies and giveaways.

“We love our community in Rio and wanted to do something to give back,” Villegas-Gutierrez said.

If you would like to donate blood, visit the Vitalant Rio Rancho blood donation center at 2003 Southern Blvd. SE #122.