Community is a cornerstone of North Hollywood-based MMD Shops. Founded in 2006 by brothers Mishka and Steve Ashbel, the cannabis dispensary has been at the forefront of providing and advocating for safe and legal access to cannabis – advancing the idea that individuals have the right to be active participants in their health care and lifestyle choices.
“We watched our grandmother pass away from cancer ten years before starting MMD Shops,” Miska Ashbel said. “She wouldn’t use cannabis because she didn’t want to break the law, but we know it would have helped her cope with her illness.”
Their grandmother’s health journey was a catalyst for Mishka and Steve wanting to build a business based on community and helping those in need.
“Part of the reason why we actually came into this business was to help people that suffer from many different illnesses – MS, ALS, cancer, HIV,” Steve Ashbel said. ”One reason why cannabis is legal today is due to the AIDS epidemic. This was a big reason why we are here today.”
While the brothers know that cannabis is not a cure for illnesses their patrons face, they agree that for some it can be a viable part of creating a better quality of life.
Offering product options that may improve their patients’ quality of life is central to MMD Shops core belief system. To advance those values MMD Shops has built and maintained robust community programs at each of their stores to support and reflect the diverse and unique communities they serve. From beach waste cleanups to supporting LGBTQ+ seniors, MMD Shops staff members connect to their communities with hands-on activities and customers are given opportunities to give back to different charities and community groups throughout the year.
Mishka and Steve developed what they call a give-back brand known as Little Matron to help support the health issues their customers face. A tribute to their grandmother, a portion of all sales from the product are given to nonprofits fighting for cures, treatments, and improved health outcomes. ALS Golden West is the first charity recipient of Little Matron sales.
Inspired by the ALS experience of staff member Dani Martin, MMD Shops have donated more than $15,000 of Little Matron sales to Golden West and are a sponsor of the Nov. 12 Los Angeles Walk to Defeat ALS.
Dani’s mom was diagnosed with ALS in 2021 and passed away at the age of 62 in January 2023.
“It was the most traumatic, heart-wrenching thing I’ve ever seen,” Dani said. “This disease progressed so quickly for her. I had never heard the term ALS before and when I got the call about my mom I learned every detail I possibly could.”
Dani and her family turned to the local medical center and ALS organizations, including one in her parent’s New Jersey hometown.
“It was very meaningful to have resources, help groups, and equipment for her,” Dani said. “Reading articles and hearing other people’s stories showed us we weren’t alone and I knew what to expect. I felt like I was three steps ahead.”
While Dani spent time in New Jersey during her mom’s ALS journey, she is now back in Los Angeles, collaborating with MMD Shops as they continue to support ALS Golden West. In addition to serving as a sponsor of the LA Walk, MMD Shops has formed a team and asked Dani to serve as team captain.
“I’m honored to represent my mom, to walk for ALS, to try every day to find a cure, more treatments and fund more research,” she said.