While we celebrate many victories both for cannabis and psychedelics this week at the ballot, our advocacy for patients in need must never falter. As always, it is extremely important to remember that many veterans suffer daily from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, among many other conditions. Due to the federally illegal status of marijuana, veterans’ access to cannabis is often limited. Instead of being permitted cannabis as a medicine, they are prescribed a cocktail of prescription drugs that often lead to opioid abuse and suicide.
The statistics of veteran suicide are staggering. According to Stop Soldier Suicide veterans are 57% more likely to commit suicide than those who did not serve in the military. Since 2001, more than 125,000 veterans committed suicide, and in 2020 alone, more than 6,000 veterans committed suicide.
When it comes to the cannabis industry, there are a few companies that have stepped up to offer assistance. In Oklahoma, Mango Cannabis teamed up with local organization Veteran X to raise funds to help veterans and prevent suicide by offering veteran discounts, as well as discounts for non-veterans who donate. In Canada, Buds by Cannilux has pledged to donate 5% of all net profits to Veteran House Charity. Finally, Massachusetts-based Chill Medicated recently announced its plan to honor veterans by offering a donation of $1 for every product sold in November that will be given to partnering organizations VFW Michigan Chapter and Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.
No one is better equipped to help veterans overcome the many battles they face once they return home from duty than organizations who specifically work to support them. Many of these organizations are run by veterans who personally understand that struggle, and these are just a few of the many great veteran cannabis organizations who are working to ensure that veterans are properly supported:
Helmand Valley Growers Company is focused on helping veterans “battle day-to-day life.” One-hundred percent of this company’s profits go toward veterans medical cannabis research, according to the website, as it continually strives to end opioid abuse and promote medical cannabis as a treatment for veterans everywhere.
Weed for Warriors Project is a lifestyle brand that helps provide safe cannabis access to veterans, as well as provides rehabilitation programs and offers community engagement efforts. Recently on Nov. 3, the group announced their intentions to contact Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, questioning an issue they discovered about where the state’s $40 million cannabis tax revenue, which was supposed to be used to fund FDA-approved clinical trials for medical cannabis, has gone.
Heroic Hearts Project offers support through veteran retreats to guide veterans in the use of therapeutic psychedelics, such as ayahuasca, psilocybin, DMT, ketamine, and ibogaine. Veterans are supervised in a safe space, accompanied by coaches to help guide them through the experience. Heroic Hearts Project also advocates for psychedelic research, and strives to educate others about the efficacy of psychedelics as a medical treatment.
Upon its founding in 2020, the Veterans Action Council published a “Green Paper” (a continuation of a significant document of the same name released in 1993) that discusses the issues with medical cannabis access for veterans, and recommends what needs to change in order to further support troops. Since then, the organization has continually reached out to other legislators in representation of veterans.
Founded by a U.S. Navy Seal, the Veterans Cannabis Project advocates for veteran medical cannabis access, educates legislators about the benefits of the plant, and continues to provide resources for veterans throughout the U.S.
Led by a former Marine Corps veteran, Veterans Alliance for Holistic Alternatives strives to educate lawmakers “to empower ‘life change’ with cannabis” while promoting reform. In the past, the leaders of this company have spoken publicly on behalf of medical cannabis to enact change in Louisiana, partnered with the Scottsdale Research Institute, and even presented the benefits of medical cannabis to the government of Panama.
The Veterans Cannabis Coalition is an independent, self-funded organization that strives to help end cannabis prohibition and promote medical cannabis research and treatment through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. You’ll often see this organization and its members involved in policy change and speaking at events to promote access and support for veterans.
Veterans Walk and Talk is based in Southern California but has chapters in Sacramento and Oklahoma. It uses exercise, as well as cannabis and psychedelics, as a tool to empower veterans to journey toward good health. Among peers, Walk and Talk becomes a therapeutic safe space for veterans to heal and grow.
Veterans Initiative 22 works to ensure that veterans receive support through its C.A.R.E. program. It provides reasonable pricing for cannabis medicine, brings awareness of the tragic suicide numbers, and help veterans find employment opportunities in the “cannabis, alternative medicine, and holistic wellness industries.”