Just in time for Memorial Day, this week The American Legion requested a meeting with Trump administration insider and First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner, to discuss rescheduling marijuana so that it no longer is limited by legal status as a federal Schedule 1 drug.
Without this change, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and other federal agencies are not allowed to discuss medical marijuana as a treatment for thousands of vets suffering from PTSD and other neurological injuries.
Earlier this year, in a first, the Food and Drug Administration approved a trial to study medical marijuana’s potential effects or benefits for veterans suffering from PTSD, which will be conducted by Santa Cruz, CA-based Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). Study facilities are located in the cities of Phoenix and Baltimore, where veterans have been enrolled for the trial.
But even as U.S. doctors and veterans advocates increasingly recommend research into the benefits of medical cannabis, veterans returning from deployments need help and resources they can access now. Several nonprofit resource organizations are helping veterans–cannabis companies and activists, fighting to change misconceptions around stereotypes and provide needed relief.
We’d like to salute our veterans on this long first unofficial weekend of summer, and a few of the organizations helping vets here:
Grow for Vets – Organized by cannabis products manufacturer Organa Brands, Grow for Vets works with several industry sponsors to provide no-cost cannabis medicines for veterans, resources for veterans suffering from PTSD, and raise awareness around combat-related metal and neurological injuries.
Grow for Vets is only one of several charitable causes supported by Organa Brands. “It’s vitally important,” Organa Brands President Chris Driessen told mgRetailer. “We have several core values at our company; we want to be of benefit and show that cannabis companies are benevolent people. It’s our job to be good corporate citizens, because that’s the right thing to do.”
Weed For Warriors Project – Weed for Warriors Project is a nationwide nonprofit that advocates medical marijuana for veterans, as well as providing fellowship for organization members suffering from combat-related injuries. The organization has eighteen chapters; in Tampa, FL, Lake City, FL, the Washington D.C. area, Trenton, NJ, and Nashville, TN, as well as several California chapters including Bakersfield, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Modesto, Monterey, Oakland, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and Stockton.
Veterans Cannabis Group (VCP) – Study results have reported an average of twenty-two veterans in the U.S. commit suicide every day; former Navy Seal and current Veterans Cannabis Project Executive Director Nick Etten founded the group, dedicated to providing veterans with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, as well as other injuries, access to medical cannabis.
Veterans Health Solutions – By and for veterans and the underserved, Veterans Health Solutions is a veteran-owned nonprofit dedicated to education and advocacy of medical marijuana for veterans and underserved communities.
Life D. Griffith is the organization’s founder: A former Army medic and Legal Administrative Specialist & Minority Veteran Program Coordinator for the West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs, Griffith had a distinguished military career and also is disabled as a result of his service. In addition to many career awards and efforts on behalf of veterans, the Cannabis Career Institute has certified Griffith as a cannabis educator.
We Are Allies – This recently launched Boston nonprofit helps veterans who are suffering with opioid addiction to “break the stigma” around addiction, and also to offer veterans alternative addiction treatment that may include medical marijuana.
The organization was founded in 2016, at an opioid addiction conference sponsored by the University of Massachusetts and General Electric Foundation by a group of concerned citizens, therapists, pharmacists and patients.
Co-founder and spokesperson Steven Mandile is a veteran of Iraq that was able to defeat his opioid addiction (the result of severe spinal injuries) with the help of medical cannabis. Since then, Mandile has been active at lobbying legislators on behalf of medical marijuana, as well as raised public awareness of opioid overdose treatment Narcan.
Multi-Disciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) – Founded by current executive director Dr. Rick Doblin in 1986, their mission primarily is to advocate for development of psychedelics and cannabis into prescription medications, support research and public education, as well as eventually creating treatment centers.
As mentioned above, MAPS is conducting the first FDA-approved study on the benefits of whole medical marijuana for veterans with PTSD, from facilities located in Phoenix and Baltimore. It took the organization seven years of advocacy work in order to secure the trial, which started enrolling subjects in February. Researchers hope that study results may lead to eventually FDA approval of whole plant medications as treatment for PTSD.