Veterans are joining the Cannabis Industry

The plight of veterans has been a long-standing issue affecting service men and women around the globe for many decades. In the United States alone, advocacy groups say that over 22 veterans commit suicide every day.

When soldiers return home after serving their country, they can have a lot of trouble adjusting to normal life. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being in traumatic combat situations; and some have even lost their families after being gone for extended periods of time. Some have become addicted to prescription drugs such as opioids after being treated for combat-related injuries. These troops and others may have trouble finding a job after spending the last several years in the military.

It’s a problem that’s been the focus of advocacy groups and those trying to offer more support to veterans for a long time. And now, those in the cannabis industry are also trying to help. While some are trying to change legalization laws in order to make medical marijuana more readily available to veterans trying to treat their veteran PTSD, others are offering them employment opportunities.

Why are veterans joining the cannabis industry?

The cannabis industry is a good fit for veterans returning from war. Finding employment in the industry can help veterans support their families by earning a good income. It can also give many a sense of renewed purpose as they still help others, albeit in a much less combative way than they may be accustomed to.

Working within the cannabis industry, whether in an official employment capacity or simply by becoming an advocate, veterans suffering from PTSD can also become weaned off the opioids they may have been prescribed for past injuries.  This was the bigger picture veteran Roberto Pickering had after he returned home from war in 2004 with severe veteran PTSD.

Realizing that help wasn’t readily available for thousands of people in his same position, Pickering paired up with Dr. Sue Sisley to create the Battlefield Foundation, a non-profit organization in L.A. that is dedicated to helping veterans through the cannabis industry.

The Foundation provides support to veterans trying to adjust back into society, such as offering advice on the use of medical marijuana, particularly for soldiers suffering from veteran PTSD or an opioid addiction. Currently the Foundation is trying to stud y the effects of cannabis on veterans suffering from PTSD, but are waiting on approval from the DEA before they can proceed.

While working with veterans and their combat-associated injuries and illnesses, the Battlefield Foundation also works vigorously to find employment for returning veterans within the cannabis industry.

Other groups, such as Iron Protection Group Security in Colorado, are also working to find veterans jobs. While this group doesn’t work within the cannabis industry, they do try to find veterans security jobs that will allow them to use their military training and help them better integrate back into society.

Veterans and PTSD

Many groups, doctors and advocacy groups are focusing on the legalisation of medical marijuana for veterans because PTSD is a growing problem. In the U.S. it’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of active service members suffer from the condition and those numbers only increase after soldiers have returned home and are left to deal with their traumatic memories of war.

Currently the treatments provided for veteran PTSD are a number of prescription drugs such as zolpidem, a powerful sedative, or opioids, which are highly addictive. The use of opioids in the U.S. has regularly been called an epidemic. But while many try to get the prescription off the streets, it continues to be prescribed to veterans. This current system is simply not meeting the healthcare needs of vets.

Many in the industry and in the legislature are aware that medical marijuana is a much better option for the troops returning from war. Veterans can often experience night terrors, or be in a state of hypervigilance, constantly in a fight-or-flight state.

Medical marijuana can greatly help with these symptoms. Through its sedative properties, cannabis can provide users with a deeper and more relaxing sleep. It can also be a powerful anti-depressant, already being prescribed for patients dealing with anxiety in areas where medical marijuana has already become legal. Those relaxation effects can also help veterans feel calmer about re-entering society and their own community soon after returning from duty.

CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid in medical marijuana, can also help veterans deal with their learned fear, which is a main component in veteran PTSD.

Unfortunately it’s not a choice that’s available to everyone. For veterans in states that have legalized medical marijuana, it might not be a problem. But those in the other 21 states are still left without access to it. And it’s not because people aren’t talking about it.

There have been many times in recent years that legislatures from one party or another have tried to pass laws for the legalisation of medical marijuana. In many cases, those proposed bills have centered on allowing doctors for The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to prescribe medical marijuana for veteran PTSD. While none of those bills have passed so far, groups such as those working on the Veterans Cannabis Project continue to work tirelessly to eventually get a bill passed.

But with the current administration in the United States, the fight is going to be a long and hard one for those in the country. President Trump, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has made moves to ramp up the war on drugs, which does not include the legalisation of medical marijuana under federal law. And sadly that includes making it available to the very troops Trump has sworn to offer better support.

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