MedCare Farms’ Garin Heslop got into the cannabis business by accident

After a traumatic motorcycle crash, Garin Heslop was prescribed powerful pain meds


After a traumatic motorcycle crash, Garin Heslop was prescribed powerful pain meds. Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Garin Heslop never saw it coming.

Or, to put it more precisely, he did see it coming, but by then it was too late to do anything about it. In July of 2008, Heslop was riding home on his motorcycle. He came to an intersection, and so did a driver who was supposed to yield before making a left turn.

“Right at the last second, he pulled out in front of me,” Heslop tells CannCentral in a recent phone interview. “At that point I couldn’t go left, I couldn’t go right; I just went headfirst straight into the back of a truck. I didn’t go over the truck, I just went straight into it.”

Heslop continues: “I just remember right before it happened, thinking, ‘No matter what, I have no control of what the outcome is at the end of this. There’s nothing I can do to change it—whether I’m dead, whether I’m paralyzed, whether I’m okay or whatever it might be.’”

Not quite okay

The successful Washington-state realtor was neither dead nor paralyzed, but he wasn’t quite okay, either. His arm was so badly injured that it required eight hours of surgery. After his discharge from the hospital, Heslop continued to struggle with short-term-memory loss and back issues.

His doctor put him on a cocktail of powerful prescription pain meds.

“Through my recovery process, it just seemed like the doctor was more interested in continuing to put a Band-Aid on it and prescribe me these drugs instead of really getting to the root cause and figuring out, how do we find a solution?” Heslop says. “How do we get past this and get to pain mitigation, and get to a better quality of life?”

Heslop says he felt his zest for life slowly slipping away.

“The prescriptions changed who I was,” he recalls. “I get up at 5:30 in the morning and I go work out. I’m very passionate about life and energetic, you know, and I just want to improve. It took that away from me. I just wasn’t happy: I didn’t have energy, I didn’t want to do anything, I just wanted to take my pills and get through my day.”

Garin Heslop of MedCare Farms.

Tragic paths

At around the same time, Heslop watched people in his life spiral into addiction. He cites the example of one of his best friends, a bank manager with a wife and two children.

After a bicycle accident, that friend got hooked on a widely prescribed opioid analgesic.

“He ended up robbing banks to support his OxyContin habit,” Heslop says. “He ended up going to prison for that. So, it’s not just the person that’s addicted, but it’s the family members that are affected as well.”

Heslop knows this firsthand; one of his own kin went down a similarly tragic path.

“My cousin ended up getting addicted to OxyContin as well, and ended up shooting somebody in the back of the head over OxyContin,” he says. “He’s in prison still today.”

Enter cannabis

Meanwhile, Heslop’s wife, Kelly—a disabled United States Army veteran—was using cannabis medicinally. Seeing her husband’s struggles, she encouraged him to do the same.

When he did, Heslop recalls, his sleep improved, and so did his appetite. More importantly, he began to feel like himself again.

“It didn’t just fix everything, but it allowed me to get to a better quality of life,” Heslop tells CannCentral. “Me being able to work out, me sleeping well, feeling better—it just helps everything, right? It all flowed in conjunction with each other.”

Not long after that, the Heslops pulled up stakes and moved to California. Today, the couple run MedCare Farms, described on its website as “Southern California’s leading craft-cannabis, lifestyle management company”. At their Lake Elsinore facility, the Heslops produce strains such as the indica-dominant MedCare Kush, the sativa-forward Lemon Burst, and the hybrid Cookies and Cream.

Powerful medicine

Garin Heslop has a new mission in life: to spread the gospel of cannabis to everyone who needs to hear it. The little green plant, he says, is powerful medicine.

“That was the founding principle of MedCare Farms,” he says. “That’s why we chose the name MedCare. This has true medicinal, healing powers, if you need something that’s a better alternative to the majority of everything else that’s available to you, and doesn’t have these insane side effects.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. alone:

  • From 1999 to 2018, over 750,000 people died from a drug overdose.
  • In 2018, almost 70,000 people died from drug overdoses.
  • It was a leading cause of injury-related death in the United States.
  • Two out of three overdose deaths involved an opioid like prescription opioids, heroin, or synthetic opioids (like fentanyl).

“The number of people who have died from cannabis,” Heslop wryly observes, “is the same as the number of unicorns that are out there: zero.”

Hearts and minds

In February, MedCare opened a retail storefront connected to its production facility. It looks more like a high-end designer boutique than it does a seedy head shop of old. That, of course, is entirely the point. Heslop says his aim is to win hearts and minds. Moreover, he would like to be seen in the same light as any other respectable member of the local business community.

It seems to be working. Lake Elsinore’s mayor, Brian Tisdale, attended the store’s grand opening, and he even cut the ribbon.

“We love the plant, and we focus on cultivation and we put so much work in,” Heslop says. “So we want our retail, because it’s customer-facing, to really represent all that hard work and that dedication and what it means to us. It’s about changing the perception from a cultural standpoint. That’s our mission.

“We wanted to change the face of what cannabis is and how people perceive it,” he continues. “So when you walk into our store, our whole thing is to have people leave happier than they came, and have the highest level of customer service. We’re about creating customers for life, and we’re gonna earn it every day.”


  • Lori October 9, 2020 10:05 AM

    What a sad but rewarding story. So proud of Garin and his wife Kelly. Thanks for sharing the story of my son.

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