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A Veteran’s Journey: Cannabis & A Return to Artistry



Park Major is a 42-year-old Gulf War veteran, born in Knoxville, TN. From a very young age, he developed a strong interest in art.

Three days after his tenth birthday, his mother committed suicide following a long battle with depression. By the age of 13, he was medicating with cannabis to treat his own depression. He says that family and friends condemned him for this. Park says, “I had a very rough childhood, mainly due to an extremely physically abusive father.”

At the age of 17, after a violent fight with him, he left home and struck out on his own. He finished high school, attended college briefly and, ultimately, joined the Navy in 1991. He was honorably discharged in 1994 and took a job as a cross-country truck driver.

Six months after his discharge, Park began experiencing intestinal ailments, migraines, PTSD and night sweats. In 1999, he was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor. Shortly after, a golf-ball sized lymphoma tumor was discovered on his neck and removed. He progressively grew sicker. His tumor was monitored, but he refused radiation treatment.

During the Gulf War, military personnel were exposed to a number of toxins and vaccines. Park believes his service is the source of his medical problems. He had abstained from cannabis throughout his Navy career, but at this point he turned to cannabis again.

In 2008, he decided to seek his rightful VA medical benefits, but was told to cease his cannabis use or risk losing all his benefits. He stopped using cannabis and began taking the pharmaceutical medicine that doctors prescribed, but became too sick to work. In danger of losing his license due to the risk of seizures, he quit and filed for his VA pension and was approved.

By 2010, Park was taking 35 pills a day. One night in his sleep, it happened — his first seizure. After many tests, doctors concluded that the VA had actually overdosed him trying to treat his conditions, and then treating the side effects of those medications.

Then, in June 2013, Park says, "My world crumbled. I’d been having chest pains and ended up in the hospital. My doctor diagnosed me with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic defect wherein your body doesn't produce the protein it needs for connective tissue, heart and lungs. The number one thing I have to worry about now is aortic dissection — otherwise known as ‘sudden death.’”

Caught at an early age, like 15, it could have been treated through surgery. But at 42, there wasn’t a lot that could be done. He was told that he might only have a year to live. Doctors promised to keep his pain at a minimal level, but he was also advised to get his affairs in order.

Later that year, in November, he was diagnosed with a thyroid tumor. “I went home and contacted Undergreen Railroad and Moving for Marijuana [organizations that help medical patients relocate to states with medical marijuana laws.] I got my affairs in order; I decided to move to Colorado. I knew cannabis was my answer."

Last February, Park and his wife arrived in Colorado Springs, CO. He had read about cannabis oil and immediately sought it out. However, last March, he found out that his thyroid tumor was growing. He began having trouble speaking and his lymph nodes were starting to swell. He increased his oil dosage.

“Recent MRIs show things have taken a turn for the worse, but I’m not giving up hope,” Park says. “I’m still working on getting rid of the tumors, but it’s a healing in progress. There are a few things I can testify to when it comes to cannabis. Number one is I’m still alive! Long after the doctors said I wouldn't be! I have a better quality of life. I'm off prescription meds and have had more better days than not since starting this journey.”

He calls the biggest difference cannabis has made in his life is his renewed passion for art. “After the military,” he says. “I was no longer able to draw. I felt as if I’d lost my talent, which added to my depression. But once I got off prescription pills and started cannabis treatments, the urge to draw returned for the first time in 20 years.”

He began a sketch, and it turned out to be Park’s first work of art in 20 years. He cried.

“It felt so good to be able to draw again,” he recalls. “My creativity is back. Cannabis has brought back a happiness that no pill ever could. I still have my bad days, but I try to educate and give back by volunteering with groups like Grow4Vets. I’m doing all I can to share with others how cannabis has truly changed my life. I’m now still living happily with my wonderful wife Judy and my best friend and emotional support dog, Dixie. We have six children and hope to have many more wonderful years together.”

Park Major with in multiple mediums, but primarily in drawing, oil painting, and photography. Check out his work below. To see more of Park’s art visit Mountain High Pharms or his Facebook page.

Park says this green bud "was the first thing I had been able to draw in over 20 years."

An oil rendering of lush cannabis growth on the cracked desert floor.

This loving portrait of cannabis leaves at dawn is titled simply "Paradise."

"Cannaoil" is Park's colorful tribute to life-saving cannabis oil.

"Rainbow Gankika" is a riotously colored homage to ganja.

Park transformed this photograph of healthy leaves into a marijuana mural.

A cannabis kaleidescope.

Park painted this cannabis leaf in motion.