Search Results for: veteran suicide

Congressman Joyce Leads Bipartisan Effort to Allow VA Doctors to Recommend Medical Cannabis to Veterans

Joins Rep. Lee, Senator Schatz in introducing Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) joined his fellow Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13) in introducing the Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act of 2021. Senator Brian Schatz (HI) has introduced the bill in the Senate.

This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would allow doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to discuss, recommend and prescribe medical marijuana to veterans in states that have established medical marijuana programs. Currently, VA doctors are prohibited from doing so as the federal government classifies cannabis as a Schedule I substance. According to a 2017 American Legion survey more than 90% of veteran households support marijuana research and 82% want to see medical cannabis designated as a federally legal treatment option.

“There is a growing body of evidence about the beneficial uses of medical cannabis as treatment for PTSD and chronic pain, two terrible conditions that plague many of our veterans,” said Joyce. “If a state has made it legal, like Ohio has, the federal government should not be preventing a VA doctor from recommending medical cannabis if they believe that treatment is right for their patient. As the son of a World War II veteran who was wounded on the battlefield, I’ve seen firsthand the many challenges our nation’s heroes face when they return home. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important bill and will continue to do everything in my power to ensure we are providing our veterans with the care they need to overcome the wounds of war.”

The legislation would also create a temporary, five-year safe harbor protection for veterans who use medical marijuana and their doctors. Additionally, the bill would direct the VA to research the effects of medical marijuana on veterans in pain, as well as the relationship between medical marijuana programs and a potential reduction in opioid abuse among veterans.

In a recent study, researchers found that those who suffer from PTSD who used cannabis saw greater reductions in their PTSD symptoms and were 2.57 times more likely to recover from PTSD during the study than those who were not using cannabis. Furthermore, a 2016 study at the Minnesota Department of Health found that 58% of patients on other pain medications were able to reduce their use of those medications when they started taking medical cannabis. Of the patients taking opioid medications, more than 62% were able to reduce or eliminate opioid usage after 6 months.

According to the VA, nearly 20% of the 2.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will experience either PTSD or depression while more than 50% of older veterans receiving care at the VA are living with some form of chronic pain. Often times, people with PTSD experience depression, panic attacks, severe anxiety, or a substance use problem, putting them at a higher risk for suicide. Tragically, the VA’s most recent annual report shows that nearly 18 veterans take their own life every day.

Organizations that support this legislation include: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), VoteVets, Minority Veterans of America, Veterans Cannabis Coalition, Veterans Cannabis Project, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), NORML, National Cannabis Roundtable, U.S. Pain Foundation, Drug Policy Alliance, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Veteran’s Initiative 22, Arizona Dispensary Association, California Cannabis Industry Association, and Hawaii Cannabis Industry Association.

Ilera Healthcare To Host Free Screening Of Award-Winning Veteran MMJ Documentary ‘Unprescribed’

November 15th Screening In Plymouth Meeting, PA

PENNSYLVANIA: Pennsylvania medical marijuana company and dispensary, Ilera Healthcare, will host a free screening of Unprescribed, followed by a panel discussion, on Friday, November 15th at 6:30 pm at Greater Plymouth Community Center in Plymouth Meeting.  The documentary film highlights medical marijuana (MMJ) as an alternative to the cocktail of drugs prescribed by military doctors for veterans struggling with PTSD, anxiety and other service-related health issues.

For many of our returning veterans, the battle continues out of uniform as they attempt to recover from war-related trauma through a multitude of prescription medicines.  In his first feature-length motion picture, producer, director, and Air Force veteran Steve Ellmore presents us with stories from fellow veterans, spouses, and family members on coping with war-related injuries and the loss of loved ones due to suicide. After returning from combat these veterans are prescribed what many refer to as the ‘combat cocktail’ or ‘zombie dope,’ leading many to believe that suicide is a possible solution to their pain.  The film takes a closer look at medical marijuana, which could provide a safer alternative for many returning soldiers. Unprescribed has recently won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Film at the Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival, Best Feature Documentary at the 2019 Cannabis Culture Film Festival, and was theBe the Change Winner at the Colorado International Activism Film Festival.  Unprescribed is also an official selection at the 2019 London Cannabis Film Festival, San Francisco Veterans Film Festival, and Honor Film Festival.   

At the conclusion of the screening, Ellmore will join Ilera’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Oludare Odumosu ,  clinical psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Bornfriend, Ron Milward of Balanced Veterans, Bill Ferguson of Veteran Cannabis Coalition, and veteran advocate and social media influencer Derek Carter on a panel to further explore MMJ as it pertains to easing the physical and mental pain of those returning from the armed forces. 

Also featured on the panel will be Christian Ryan, an MMJ advocate and US Army combat veteran, who served in Iraq. Besides advocating for veterans to have access to MMJ through his founding of the Veterans Medical Marijuana Advisory Council (V.M.M.A.C.), Christian, who is employed at Ilera, inspired the development of the company’s new  FREEDOM medical cannabis formulation.  

Greater Plymouth Community Center is located at 2910 Jolly Road in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.  To reserve free tickets to the Unprescribed screening and panel Q&A please visit.  

War Veteran Non-Profit Hosts Inaugural Medical Cannabis Conference Days Before Missourians Vote on Medical Cannabis Ballot

Nation’s Cannabis Experts Address Consumers, Healthcare Providers & Emerging Trade at October 27 & 28 St. Charles-based Forum

MISSOURI: The inaugural Missouri Medical Cannabis Conference will be held Saturday & Sunday, October 27 and October 28, and will provide voters, potential patients, caretakers, varied healthcare providers and those interested in the associated business and trade of medical cannabis broad access to experts and expert resources.

The event features medical cannabis healthcare providers, researchers and patients, as well as renowned leaders in various aspects of America’s medical cannabis movement.  Conference activities include keynote speeches, panel discussions, networking sessions and multiple food-based hospitality events.  The cost of attendance begins at $75; additional higher priced attendance packages are offered, with cost based on extent of conference access, special events and amenities included.

Held in St. Charles at the Embassy Suites by Hilton, conference organizers have structured Saturday’s session to focus on patient and healthcare subjects.  Sunday’s conference addresses the medical cannabis trade landscape and emerging business opportunities.  Saturday activities begin at 9 am, Sunday sessions begin at noon.   For a complete schedule, speaker information & pricing options, visit www.mocannacon.com

Screenshot 2018-10-18 09.22.48HOSTED BY WHO & WHY

The conference is organized and hosted by Missouri based Project 4-22 Foundation, a volunteer community initiative committed to mitigating the American military veteran suicide epidemic by seeking safer treatment options while raising awareness of the staggering death rates reported by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

Project 4-22 organized this informative and educational forum with broad appeal to various constituents — from voters to healthcare providers — in advance of Missouri’s medical cannabis vote because every day at least 22 veterans commit suicide. With diagnoses ranging from post-traumatic stress to traumatic brain injury, veterans face limited and inadequate treatment that includes addictive opiates.  In November Missouri voters will make history, passing judgement on three separate medical cannabis initiatives on the ballot.  Project 4-22 advocates the medical benefits of cannabis and its use as an effective treatment for many veteran diagnoses, and designed the conference as an opportunity for Missourians to educate themselves before voting in November’s historical election.

What Medical Cannabis Could Look Like For Our Veterans Forum

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  In recent months, Americans nationwide have been faced with a startling awakening regarding opioid related overdoses and deaths. State legislatures and Congress alike are desperately seeking measures today that will address this unfolding epidemic. Meanwhile, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is tasked with addressing near epidemic levels of not only Opioid related overdoses, but also opioid related suicides by America’s elite fighting forces and valued community of veterans.

“Within the US one person every 20 minutes dies of either an accidental and or intentional overdose to prescription pain medication. Doing the math that’s 3 every hour, 72 a day and so forth. It has been reported that our Veterans are overdosing at twice the rate of civilians….in other words 2 of the 3 causalities within the above hour time frame are Veterans,” says Jeffery Staker, a Marine veteran, DOD Firefighter, and founder of Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis.

In a joint effort to address and cull this epidemic, several members of the Veteran Affairs Staff, the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, and Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis have aligned to attend an intimate educational forum with the nations’ leading physicians. The forum will be held September 13th, from 12:00 – 2:00 p.m. at the Rayburn House Office Building, Gold Room, RM #2168.

“With veterans representing 7% percent of the American population, yet accounting for 20 percent of the national suicide rate, these numbers are unacceptable, and it is ‘all hands-on deck’ for all Americans to learn together and do more for those who selflessly serve our country,” said Brandon L. Wyatt, attorney and Army disabled combat veteran.

“We are excited to partner with the country’s top medical minds Donald Abrams, MD; Ziva D Cooper, PhD; Darryl Hudson, PhD; Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSH, CARN; and Jordan Tishler, MD; to raise awareness of the veterans’ suicide epidemic, explore arduous drug policies, and engage leaders in the government sector to professionally explore safer medical alternatives, in hopes to save lives every day,” said Staker, forum organizer.

“Veterans from all 50 states and US territories have fought tirelessly for freedom, in an academic setting, we are honored to address our injuries to continue to be of service to All Americans with the sincere hope of ending the opioid crisis”, Wyatt noted.

Joining the forum will be top Veteran advocate groups from across the country to include: Veterans Cannabis Group, Marijuana for Trauma, Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, Hoosier Veterans for Medical Cannabis and Operation EVAC, along with the Veteran founded cannabis educational organization Patients Out of Time.

To RSVP Contact Hoosier Veterans For Medical Cannabis: hoosiervetsformc@gmail.com

 

U.S. Military Veterans Rally To Kick Off Southeast Cannabis Conference & Expo

FLORIDA: A special rally for U.S. military veterans will kick off the opening of the Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo (SECC Expo) on June 10 at the Greater Ft. Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center, 1950 Eisenhower Boulevard. Admission for active military and veterans is free and the expo runs through June 11.

The SECC Expo along with sponsors FlavRx, EveRx, Buds for Vets and Weed for Warriors Project invite the public to begin gathering at 9:30 a.m. for an inspiring event to honor, support and show gratitude to those who have served. The conference and exhibit hall opens at 10 am, with a Veterans and Cannabis session at 10:30 a.m.

The SECC Expo wants to educate and help those who have served our country have access to safe medications to treat injuries, chronic illness, PTSD and depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans accounted for 18% of all suicide deaths among U.S. adults (July 2016 report). They also report Florida has one of the largest populations of veterans, third behind California and Texas, which makes large-scale educational events like the SECC Expo vital to getting alternative medications and therapies like medical cannabis to this underserved community.

The cost of admission to the expo for veterans will be covered by sponsor FlavRx. Other sponsors, EveRx and Honest Hemp Co., will have giveaways at the rally for veterans.

 

Nonprofit Gives Free Marijuana To Oregon Veterans

OREGON: National nonprofit organization ‘Grow for Vets’ is raising money and support for veterans suffering from PTSD and other medical conditions, as well as handing out free marijuana.

The organization hosted a free cannabis giveaway and rally at Refuge PDX in Portland on Saturday. Both Veterans and non-veterans received gift bags containing information about Grow for Vets and free pot-related products.

The rally aimed to raise veterans’ awareness about alternative treatment options, and to highlight the frequency of prescription drug abuse and suicide.

Grow for Vets held their first Oregon cannabis giveaway in Albany on July 1st, when marijuana legalization officially took effect. Hundreds of Veterans and supporters attended and received gift bags worth more than $300 each.

Alaska Trim 4 Vets Seeks To Help Veterans Access Medical Marijuana

ALASKA:  Medical marijuana can help military veterans in many ways. A lot of veterans suffer aches and pains related to their service, and they deserve to use medical marijuana if they want to. Medical marijuana can also help with PTSD, which is something that many veterans deal with on a daily basis. It’s often hard for some veterans to acquire medical marijuana, especially in Alaska where a lot of veterans live in rural areas.

Alaska Trim 4 Vets started to help address that issue. Below is their mission statement, and I encourage all readers to check them out, and make a donation if you are able:

OUR MISSION: The mission of alaskatrim4vets is to help reduce the staggering number of Veterans who die each day from suicide and prescription drug overdose. We provide Veterans with the knowledge and resources necessary for veterans to grow and or obtain medical marijuana for treatment of their medical conditions.

 

LTC(R) Todd Scattini- “The Hemp Colonel” Remarks At Emerald Science Conference

Thanks to the Emerald Sciences Conference team— Jules Sinclair, Ken Snoke, Wes Burk, and Cliff Beneventi, and Dr. John Abrams

I am so grateful for this platform. I am humbled to have the opportunity to kick off this important conference focused on the science of cannabis and the technology to facilitate its research. I’m honored to address you, the leaders in the field on this occasion.

CALIFORNIA

I love coming back to my home state of California and seeing how the bravery of activists changed cannabis policy here in 1996, which began a policy evolution across the United States and around the world. For example, it was the bravery of gay activists in California, like Denis Peron, Harvey Milk, and Richard Eastman, teaming up with Jack Herer responding to suffering brought on by the AIDS epidemic that inspired their movement. The loss and suffering of their friends was too much to bear, and they risked their freedom and reputations to come to the rescue of their comrades.

Todd Scattini on Stage

In many ways, my own life has followed the arc of cannabis policy.

I was born in 1970, the same year that Richard Nixon—another Californian—created the “war on drugs.” I was raised in the “Just Say No” generation in a law enforcement household. And in 1996, the same year that I graduated from West Point, CA was the first state to take the brave step forward to legalize medical cannabis.

And then on January 1st, 2018, I was officially retired from the Army, and my home state of CA legalized the adult use of cannabis. I now call Kansas City, MO home, and I’m proud to say that I was part of legalizing medical cannabis there, which passed by a vast majority during the November 2018 election.

As you’ve likely concluded from my bio, I’m not a scientist. I’m not a doctor. I am now just an old soldier. At West Point, I was trained under the banner of DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY and inspired to a lifetime of service to the Nation. Much like many of you, I feel like working in the medical cannabis industry is my calling. I consider this how I continue to serve, today. Given my experiences in the Army and my understanding of the power of the cannabis plant, I believe that I have a voice to lend to this discussion and a duty to pursue safer and more effective methods of treating veterans and military personnel who suffer from wounds both visible and invisible.

As a Veteran now, I find myself part of a population in the midst of a health crisis marked by elevated levels of suicide, mental health concerns, substance abuse issues, and addiction. I cannot purport to speak for all veterans, but today I will attempt to describe the view from my foxhole.

VCP

But first, I also want to thank Doug Distaso for the great introduction, and congratulate him for being named the new Executive Director of the Veterans Cannabis Project, where I’m proud to serve as a board member and the director of the Midwest region. Doug is a 1996 USAFA graduate who served our Nation as a special operator for many years. He is now working tirelessly to bring about policy changes every day by waving our flag in Washington D.C., providing leaders with a great reason to say yes to increased research and access to medical cannabis for veterans. The VCP was founded by Nick Etten, a Naval Academy grad, and The VCP is turning out to be incredibly influential instrument in cannabis policy at the federal level. I believe it is because the creation of the VCP and the execution of what we do come from a place of great PURPOSE for us and a sense of DUTY, because we feel like we’re doing what we were trained to do—protect and care for those who have served. And because of our time as leaders in the military, we also care deeply about the families of those who serve; keeping in mind the often serious cascading effects of pain and trauma experienced in veterans’ families and the communities in which they live.

Todd at Emerald Science ConferenceCOMMANDER IN CHIEF’S TROPHY:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that West Point owns—for the second year in a row—the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy. This means that Army beat both the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy this year in football. I bring this up not only to gloat but also to bring us to the football field. Part of our training at the military academies is participation in athletics. This instills in all of us a sense of the interconnectedness between competitive athletics and military action–these are ideas of struggle, tactics, and strategic engagement. And football of course has a long tradition at the academies—the Army-Navy game, first played in 1890, is one of the most traditional, enduring rivalries in college football.

General Douglas MacArthur, himself a superb athlete, while serving as Superintendent of West Point identified so clearly the relationship between competition on  the football field and combat on the battlefield. He said, “On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days, on other fields will bear the fruits of victory.”

In no other forum is there a clearer representation of today’s modern gladiators and warriors.

On the second Saturday every of every December, the football field is where gladiators from both Army and Navy engage in competition that will translate one day to the battlefield, where they will serve as warriors. It’s also the field where men engage in competition that is a multi-billion dollar “entertainment” industry. Professional athletes, our modern Gladiators on the football field risk their health, and arguably their lives in the long term, for our entertainment. And warriors on the battlefield do our nation’s bidding, by putting their lives on the line as part of duty to our country. Both of these populations are at high risk for suffering from long-term health issues, including chronic pain, PTSD, TBI, and CTE, just to name a few. These populations are also at extremely high risk of becoming addicted to opioids and other frequently prescribed drugs. These populations should have access to medical cannabis as an option.

I believe that we are in a position to change the lives of veterans, football players, men and women affected by

these debilitating medical conditions. And indeed we have an ethical duty to do so.

So, How does an Army Colonel get involved in cannabis?

In Afghanistan, I served  on the Commander’s Initiatives Group, which is an interdisciplinary team comprised of diplomats, military personnel, and civilians tasked with providing strategic advice to the Coalition Commander.

Among many other things, we were asked to develop innovative solutions to transform the Afghan economy using the country’s available natural resources. I proposed the use of hemp as an element of the Afghan economy to provide a replacement to the widespread cultivation of opium. An additional benefit of this plan would have been the cross-pollination of hemp and cannabis, thereby reducing the amount of THC in the hashish crops they grew to sell in prohibition markets for exorbitant profits. My recommendation fell on deaf ears, because, although I served for incredibly intelligent and talented leaders, this was still a bit “out there.”

But it was there, in Afghanistan, where I became so interested in everything revolving around cannabis. I had never found a subject more fascinating on so many levels. Its history in the United States charts a path beginning with the devastating Social Justice implications of our prohibition of this plant rooted in racism, greed, and often illogical, fear-mongering, and uninformed political arguments.

The social justice impacts alone, coupled with the  potential health impacts on our society, merit focus and the concentrated efforts of the entire global community. This includes international organizations, federal, state and local governments, as well as academic institutions. Our future must focus on the as-yet untapped transformative possibilities that this plant has to offer.

As states begin to legalize adult use of marijuana, we’re beginning to see positive outcomes in Job Creation, Revenue Generation, and increased Research opportunities. We are building an industry from the underground up. It is amazing to watch, as many of you are already doing, what it looks like when we apply modern scientific tools and techniques to a plant we’ve been unable to study for far too long. So, I am very excited to hear many of your findings over the next two days.

Today, we find ourselves in a position to facilitate meaningful research and then to amplify the medical outcomes of cannabis. By creating opportunities for interdisciplinary, multinational collaborative groups, we can synchronize research agendas. And with the support of powerful partners in the federal arena, including but not limited to the DoD, and in national, influential institutions like the NFL, we can make visible the results of this research.

And I believe that this conference, with the incredible roster of scientists leading sessions on significant topics such as cannabis genomics and chemotyping, genetic sequencing, standards and practices, pharmacological strategies, cultivation, extraction, and processing, and emerging research trends and findings, to name just a few, , are so vital to forward progress and to what I see as our ethical responsibility, our DUTY, to our planet and our fellow human beings.

Before I left the military, I struggled, at first, to see how my skill sets might translate to the industry. But I realize that the skill sets that I am deploying in the cannabis space were the same ones that were developed in me in the military. While serving, I was trained to lead soldiers in combat, and I was trained in the art of diplomacy. In the military we have been told that our only limit was our imagination and that we have to think critically about complex issues and develop creative solutions to apply to them.

There are few issues facing our country that are more complex than that of veteran suicide and our Nation’s opioid crisis. The two combined result in the death of nearly 12,000 veterans annually. Beyond that, opioid overdoses cost the lives of almost 70,000 American civilians last year, resulting for the third year in a row, in a decline in the life expectancy of American citizens.

Now, THAT is a national emergency. Cannabis can help reverse this situation. This is no longer an assumption. This is what we know from experience in 33 states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.

Even the FDA holds several patents on cannabinoids as a neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. This triad comprises, ironically, the three things that would be most useful to combat Traumatic Brain Injuries, what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (or DARPA) has called “The Signature Wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.”

My passion project is The Athena Protocol.

I’ve named this project after the Greek goddess, Athena, who is the goddess of military victory, knowledge, and good counsel. And, her helmet is prominently displayed on the crest of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Athena Protocol

The Athena Protocol is a four-phased, multi-disciplinary strategy designed to mitigate and treat traumatic brain injury (TBI). And, we believe it may have the same application to prevent and treat chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Protocol seeks to harness the neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties of non-impairing cannabinoids administered as a prophylaxis and a treatment through a phased program prior to and following a brain injury, which would include administration on the battlefield immediately following a suspected TBI, at the point of injury.

The development of this Protocol was inspired by the loss of one of my Lieutenants who had served under my command.

Captain Andrew Houghton, from Houston, Texas was an exceptional young officer and a fellow graduate of West Point (Class of 2001). Andy threw his hat in the air on the field at Michigan Stadium just months before the attacks of 9/11 on our Nation that thrust us into what is our country’s longest conflict. I last saw Andy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where I met his parents. We pinned a purple heart on his chest, and the following day he succumbed to his traumatic brain injury sustained while serving in Iraq. My hope is that The Athena Protocol might be able to prevent or reduce the severity of TBIs, and perhaps increase the survivability of soldiers in combat. It is scientists and researchers like you who fill this room and the technology that we are all working to bring to bear on the cannabis plant that might help move research like this forward.

So, where are we now?

I’d say that we are in The Adaptive Space. This is a concept we train our officers on at the Command and General Staff College in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. It’s based on Michael Arena’s groundbreaking work that leads organizations to become more agile and to embrace disruptive forces as positive accelerators. Cannabis is that disruptive force.

The Adaptive Space exists in between and intersecting the Entrepreneurial and the Operational realms of leadership. In short, the Adaptive Space is the space that exists between the prohibition period, where research was stifled (an understatement) to a place where cannabinoid medicines can be prescribed with predictable outcomes. It is the place where we will soon get to apply the most complex plant that we know of at some of the worlds most complex health issues.  In this space–if people collaborate freely with parallel objectives–real growth happens and true organic innovation emerges.

In order to develop a deeper understanding of how cannabinoid medicine might be applied to some of the most complex medical conditions of our time, we need to:

  • Reduce barriers to research
  • Develop clear protocols for cannabis
  • Create an environment to conduct research on the predictability of cannabis’ effects on the prevention and treatment of injury, illness, and disease.
  • Conduct research on dosing, which the Emerald Sciences Team is currently working toward.
  • Furthermore, we should demand that medical schools train their students on the endocannabinoid system and the most current science on cannabis.
  • Finally, I believe that the DoD is uniquely positioned as the ideal organization to lean into medical cannabis research. The veteran community represents the largest patient population in the United States. The DoD has over 1,200 health care facilities nationwide, including 170 VA Medical Centers, and over 1,000 outpatient sites of care. These serve over 9 Million enrolled veterans annually. 75% of that population have made it known that they would welcome cannabis as a treatment option.  The two largest VSOs (VFW and AL) have made demands for increased cannabis research part of their national platforms.
  • It makes sense that the military would lead this effort

The military has a long history of driving medical advances, including the discovery of penicillin, the development of plastic surgery, and the treatment of amputation. These advances were realized in response to necessity. We’re now in a moment of necessity. And we need the DoD to STEP UP, get past the stigma, and look at medical cannabis as a way to address the veterans health crisis that we’re in today. I’m confident that cannabis would become an effective tool for the military medical community to address veterans health issues, if they were to commit to understanding the full potential this plant possesses. And, I believe that we would reduce healthcare costs for our nation, as a whole.

If we focus science, technology, and minds with clear vision and purpose, we can maximize innovations in this Adaptive Space. And this must happen NOW. In the military, we spend a lot of time learning about revolutions in military affairs. That is to say how small changes or inventions change warfare. These include the advent of the stirrup that made it possible for warfare to be conducted while mounted on a horse. It is the advent of the rail lines to speed military transport. It is the invention of the computer…of the satellite. These all add to revolutions in military affairs.

Today, we are on the precipice of an authentic paradigm shift that will be seen as a true revolution in medical affairs. Even today, medical cannabis is saving people’s lives and improving the health and well-being of their families and communities. It is my goal to ensure that this happens within the veteran community, as well.

We are so lucky to be operating within the cannabis industry today, in whatever role you might be playing. While the rest of the world gets to watch the shifting of a paradigm, we get to actually guide it, shape it, direct it. We get to make it in the form of something that we can be really proud of. We can set the example for other industries to follow.

My final thought

We spend a lot of time discussing this plant, and that is for good reason. For many of us, we consider that this plant has saved our lives or the lives of someone close to us. Most of us are inspired by this plant for the bounty we believe it possesses and because we believe that it can revolutionize the way we treat patients and how it might improve the health and well-being of our species. What will make this all possible are the People. And, that is why we are gathered here, to interact with one another, and to create connections that might help us advance medical science and deepen our understanding of the cannabis plant and how to deploy it. We are here to promote collaboration among Nations, institutions, and people. I’m sure many of you have experienced the deep friendships that develop around the study of this plant…some of it even owed to the mutual communion around the cannabis plant.

One particular individual that I would like to mention was a dear friend and colleague, Steve Baugh. He spoke here last year and was a member of the Harvest 360 Team. Steve passed away suddenly just ten days ago. He was an accomplished chemist and inventor who held several patents. He was a husband and father with a genius mind. But most of all, he was our friend and a valued teammate. His passing is a great loss to the scientific community. We will miss him dearly and offer condolences to his family.

My goal for this address was to inspire this crowd by pointing out the need for greater research of cannabis and perhaps introduce you to the struggles of a the veteran population so desperately in need of safer and more effective treatments for the wounds of war. But, I believe you already know this. I think we are all well aware of the potential for cannabis to serve as a life saving medicine. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.

In the end, I believe what I am trying to do is to inspire our country to significantly reduce the barriers to research of cannabis. I think that access to this medicine and the ability of scientists to research it should be considered a human right, and that it is our DUTY to explore it.

During a recent trip to Washington DC with the VCP, I visited the American Academy of Sciences. I went there to pick up a copy of their recent publication: The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. This report provides a broad set of evidence-based research conclusions on the health effects of cannabis and cannabinoids and puts forth recommendations to help advance the research field and better inform public health decisions.

As I entered the building, I was immediately struck by Albert Einstein’s words that guard the entrance to the building.

He was quoted as saying:

“The right to search for truth implies also a duty;

One must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.”

In this, Einstein is challenging all of us to search for truth with integrity and purpose and to share that truth for the greater good.

I feel that Einstein’s quote was an appropriate way to open our proceedings this week, and I hope to harness or enlist the intellectual power and the scientific capabilities represented in this room to that end.

I cannot wait to search for truth with you and share it with the world.

I implore this group to join me and so many other veterans who are working toward this end to find solutions to address the healthcare crisis we are in today. I invite the Department of Defense and others to join us in helping facilitate research.\

I believe it is our duty to do so.

I believe we have WE HAVE SKIN IN THE GAME!

Cannabis Industry Ambassador-At-Large: Twenty22Many Art Auction

Twenty22Many is a Washington-based Veterans group, born out of the old Medical Marijuana Collective model that preceded recreational cannabis in Washington State.

The mission of the Twenty22Many is “By All Means Necessary – End Veteran Suicide.” Founder Patrick Saint, and other volunteer veterans are committed to raising awareness about the extremely high suicide rates among our military veterans — it is reported that 22 daily suicides occur daily in America.

Patrick and his group of Veteran volunteers turned to Washington State’s newly licensed recreational cannabis community for help. Together, they created the Twenty22Many Veteran Support Depot Program to offer vets a safe haven and access to resources.

If a veteran walks through the door of a participating retailer in need of anything, they will be given a flyer with valuable contact information on it.  Once contacted, Twenty22Many will promptly dispatch a veteran volunteer and resources to that veteran in need.  Twenty22Many Veteran Support Depot Program essentially converts participating I-502 stores into little Veteran hubs all over the state.

I grew up in a military family. Both my father and a sister served in the armed forces, and so I was especially excited to join Twenty22Many at their annual fundraiser as a guest of the founder.  The auction was held at Heylo Cannabis Extractions in Sodo Seattle.

These works are like DMT meet LSD

These works are like DMT meet LSD

The evening started off with an art auction. The featured artist was Adream, whose work is so detailed and inspiring. These works were both colorful and spiritual in some mystical way — like DMT meet LSD.

I also attended a glass blowing event earlier, hosted by Weekend Unlimited, Jerome Baker Designs and Leafly. Jason Harris of JBD Glass graciously donated a wonderful JBD bong to Patrick and Twenty22Many for auction at the evening event.

 

Jason Harris of JBD Glass so graciously donated a wonderful JBD bong to Patrick and the Twenty22Many.

Jason Harris of JBD Glass so graciously donated a wonderful JBD bong to Patrick and the Twenty22Many.

I was given the extreme honor to present Patrick with a Challenge Coin. In the military, challenge coins are often offered to visiting dignitaries or guest of a unit or platoon.  This particular coin was given to me by Four-Star General “Skip” Dreps, a well-known Veterans advocate who works with the Disabled Veterans of the Pacific Northwest. General Dreps is a good friend of Jake The Professor who always jumps at the chance to help his fellow brothers in arms.

Thank you to Heylo Canbabis Extractions, the Space Shuttle, and Twenty22Many for helping us understand the needs of the veterans community and offering us an opportunity help.

Patrick Saint and Twenty22Many need our support to carry out this very important mission. I invite you to work with us to reduce suicide rates within the Veterans community.  Please reach out to Twenty22Many in Olympia to participate in this life saving program.

 

Set The Truth Free – Cannabis Science Now!

By Vivian McPeak

WASHINGTON: Before cannabis was prohibited in the early 20th century, it was one of the most widely prescribed botanical medicines in the pharmacopeia. Its safety has been supported by the fact that humans have used it therapeutically for thousands of years. Not content with just prohibiting the sale, manufacture, & use of cannabis, the United States government has also prevented scientific research from being conducted on any promising aspects of cannabis for many decades.

Despite prohibitionist restrictions, some science has taken place albeit primarily via the National Institute on Drug Abuse, where research is limited to harmful effects of the drug on the brain and body. Despite this research bias, there is still a large body of work supporting that cannabis has significant therapeutic potential. Research bias in the United States has prevented many people from receiving the benefit of reduced suffering in untreatable disease as well as the potential for actual treatment for a wide range of diseases.

Relief delayed and obstructed?

In America and beyond, there are many children and adults suffering from a host of neurological, autoimmune and degenerative diseases such as autism spectrum, epilepsies, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Conventional medicine and pharmaceutical products have little to offer these patients while cannabis has the potential to provide effective treatment and/or relief. This year the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) said in a new position statement that cannabis “may be useful in treating some illnesses of the brain and nervous system” and called on the federal government to allow research to happen.

Both child and adult athletes often suffer traumatic injuries to the head and brain. Cannabinoids are the only compounds that have been identified as potential neuro-protectant and anti-inflammatory agents. They have shown potential in animal models that mimic traumatic brain injury for preventing further damage and accelerating healing, and even grow new brain cells.

An average of 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide each and every day. Cannabis, as a whole plant medicine, has shown potential in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), pain, and depression, all common disorders veterans experience after discharge. Soldiers suffering from combat related injuries all over the world could benefit from cannabis as medicine.

A Cannabis Use Survey has revealed that anxiety and depression are third in the list of conditions for which patients self-treat with cannabis in Washington State. In fact, one in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication, some of which have shown potential catastrophic side effects. Cannabis is safe and non-toxic, and has promise in treating both anxiety and depression without intolerable side-effects.

America’s baby boomers are aging, and ground breaking research in Israel, where scientific study on cannabis is allowed, indicates that cannabis has great promise in the treatment of dementia. Israel’s ministry of health licensed 10,000 patients to use cannabis medicinally and has sanctioned more than a dozen studies to treat dementia as well as illnesses like Crohn’s disease, PTSD, pain, and even cancer.

Much of American research is focused on cost-prohibitive, potentially addictive, pharmaceutical drugs that have unknown long-term effects. Nearly seven out of 10 Americans were prescribed at least one drug in 2009, and half were given two or more, according to new research from the Mayo Clinic. Prescription medicine has progressed at unprecedented levels, while consumers are trending back toward natural and botanical medicines, such as cannabis.

Sixty percent of the 38,329 people who died of a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2010 died taking prescription drugs. Three out of four of those deaths were caused by opioid analgesics, according to estimates from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that 15,000 people die every year in this country from overdoses involving opioid or narcotic pain relievers alone, although that number is likely higher.

Cannabis is known to work wonderfully for pain management. Additionally cannabis has never killed a single person from overdose or toxic reaction, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. In the 13 states that passed laws allowing for the use of medical marijuana between 1999 and 2010, 25 percent fewer people die from opioid overdoses annually.

Science lags behind public awareness

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) reported, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” It is impossible to truly gauge how much needless suffering may have been prevented if scientific study of cannabis would have been allowed these last decades. Scientific prohibition has likely cost many lives, as well as quality of life, by thwarting scientific advancement on several fronts.

In January of 2014 President Obama publicly declared that cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol. In a historic recent development, Congress has prevented federal intervention in states that have legalized medical cannabis.

A clear majority of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana. Now that things are changing dramatically in public policy, it is time to the set the truth free.

It is now time for the DEA to de-schedule cannabis once and for all so the plant can legitimately join the American Herbal Pharmacopeia with its botanical counterparts. This move would enable clinical trials of locally-accessed products, not just government-grown pot. How has Israel advanced light years ahead of the United States when it comes to cannabis research? How can we miss this opportunity for a homegrown, American-made, sustainable industry that could do public good while revitalizing our stumbling economy?

Hemp is on the way

But that’s not all. In addition to the medicinal research of cannabis that needs to take place there is also the gargantuan economic and environmental potential offered by the domestic production of industrial hemp. Cannabis prohibition has also prevented innovation and advancement in the U.S. industrial hemp industry merely because hemp looks like intoxicating “marijuana.”

The potential that hempcrete, hemp bio-composites, hemp fiber board, hemp seed oil, hemp foods, textiles, paper, and other industrial, environmental and agricultural applications that the cannabis genus offers are almost incalculable. Research and development must take place in the industrial hemp industries as well, particularly so that America can catch up to the other developed countries that possess the varieties that meet current, and in many cases, sophisticated market demands. And hemp is the future in ways we never imagined! There have been amazing discoveries in the last year that hemp cellulose is superior to graphene and ideal for 3D-printing, super-capacitors and nanotechnology.

America is already the largest importer of industrial hemp products in the entire world, importing over $58 million in 2013/2014, and importing 90% of all hemp seed grain and oil being harvested and produced in Canada. Industrial hemp is literally a biospheric sponge, soaking up and converting carbon dioxide, while its long tap roots help maintain moisture and are phenomenal erosion controllers. However, industrial hemp continues to be lumped in with intoxicating “marijuana” by the federal government, impeding research and development, while industrial hemp could potentially produce as many new jobs as The New Deal.

Historic federal legislation was signed into law in early 2014 that allows for research and pilot plots in states where hemp is legal, and subsequent law was passed precluding federal intervention in legal hemp states acting in accordance with the federal research and pilot plot requirements. Yet only two states have thus far taken advantage of this right, and Washington isn’t one of them.

Final note

Finally, with recreational retail outlets opening up in at least four states it is even more important for critical health and safety research to take place concerning cannabis and its use. Public safety demands it.

It is time for the DEA or Congress to de-schedule cannabis entirely (just like alcohol and tobacco, both of which are known killers) and treat it like other botanical medicines by allowing the scientific community to examine the cannabis plant in every way possible. Fear of knowledge is an anathema to the American way, and an impediment to compassionate, informed public health, economic and social policy. How can a government that is afraid of the truth govern in the best interests of its citizenry?

Lastly, as a biotech state with progressive marijuana policies, Washington could benefit from research funding if government obstacles were not in impeding of research.

It is time to let the truth free. We need cannabis science, now!

 

– By Vivian McPeak, Dr. Michelle Sexton, Dr. Michele Ross, Joy Beckerman