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Free Marijuana For Veterans Creates Buzz In Pot Debate While Saving Lives

The General

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Colorado - The legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana is under great debate within our government. One Colorado Springs organization is trying to change that, and the way veterans are cared for. They're giving away free cannabis and marijuana-related products. Statistics show that men and women serving in either Iraq or Afghanistan are seeking treatment for post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, depression and suicide from these wars more than any other prior conflict. Of the millions of vets who served during this time, 20 percent report the need for PTSD and depression treatment.

The numbers are staggering for suicides. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the average was 22 per day in 2010. In 2012, there were more suicides than combat deaths--almost one per day. The VA says the number could be greater, but the report only surveyed 21 states listing military service on death certificates. They also believe suicides often go unreported because of the stigma attached.

Operation Grow4Vets is hoping to help decrease these numbers. "Operation Grow4Vets is about saving some of the almost 8,000 veterans who commit suicide every year," founder and veteran Roger Martin said. "It's over 22 a day, and some of the veterans who die from prescription drug overdose, and give them a safe alternative."

Martin understands the treatment process and believes there is a better way than using and abusing prescription drugs provided by Veterans Affairs. He was once on routine regimen of 180mg of OxyContin per day and 20-30mg of Ambien per night. He would only get one or two hours of sleep. This was all attributed to the constant chronic pain he suffered through. Once he tried marijuana to relieve his pain, it made a big difference in the way he felt, his attitude and dependency on the prescribed drugs.

Other veterans feel the same way. "It was killing me. I could feel it," said Army veteran Matthew Kahl. He feels the switch to marijuana saved his life and dramatically improved the relationship he was losing with his family. Operation Grow4Vets works strictly under Colorado law, Amendment 64. They offer several free cannabis events throughout the state between Colorado Springs and Denver. Anyone is invited to attend, but registration ahead of time is required.

The organization works from monetary donations and donations of shake and trim. These are the parts of the marijuana plant cut away to make the bud more attractive for selling to the public. Although the pieces are cut away, they still contain THC, the chemical ingredients with medicinal properties. THC is extracted from the shake and trim and refined into a liquid oil. It's this cannabis oil that is given out. Grow4Vets is anti-smoking, so oil and edibles are their products of choice.

While marijuana is legal within Colorado, it is not on the federal level. The option for cannabis treatment for veterans through traditional VA practices does not exist. Many vets in need of help and receiving treatment are concerned about the fallout from using this method.

Daniel Warvi from Veterans Affairs said not to worry. "There is no circumstance where vets are going to lose their healthcare," Warvi said. "The VA policy is very clear. State-approved marijuana, which includes recreational and medical marijuana, is an individual state right. Since the VA is a federal entity, we can't recommend it, we can't write prescription cards, recommendations or those sort of things. But in this case, veterans using state-approved marijuana, we're going to continue to take care of them."

He stresses the importance of good communication and open discussions with healthcare providers. Veterans under current protocols could see some changes. "We might modify the treatment plan because, is there a potential drug interaction between what I'm prescribing you? Yeah. That's absolutely going to be a conversation. That's part of the healthcare we provide," Wavri said.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Fox21news.com
Author: Craig Coffey
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Free marijuana for vets creates buzz in pot debate while saving lives : News : FOX21News.com
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