In honor of PTSD Awareness Day on June 27, we wanted to take a stroll down memory lane to our 2016 Cannabis and Veterans event. The event featured emotional stories from veterans with the goal of helping change the stigma that has long followed cannabis and opening up conversations on the positive effects it has had on those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
In addition to former US Marine Roberto Pickering and Iraq War Veteran Boone Cutler, the panel of speakers included marijuana advocate and medical researcher Dr. Sue Sisley, State Senator Pat Spearman, Nevada 1st Congressional District Representative Dina Titus and Oregon 3rd Congressional District Representative Earl Blumenauer.
Speakers touched on the relief that marijuana can provide for PTSD symptoms, but highlighted the struggle veterans faced getting access to medical marijuana. According to the Las Vegas Sun article about the event, Veterans Affairs doctors were “prohibited by law from speaking about marijuana with their patients or recommending the plant for their ailments, those veterans must seek private doctors for medical marijuana recommendations.”
Dr. Sisley also stressed the risk of losing VA benefits if veterans tested positive for cannabis, even after obtaining a medical card. But, the most heart wrenching words were the stories told by Pickering and Cutler.
Pickering spoke about his struggle after returning from the battlefield and being treated with prescription drugs, including opiates. Cutler recounted sleepless nights throughout five years and battling depression and suicidal thoughts while on prescribed pills. They both found relief with cannabis.
Today, the legalization of recreational marijuana has provided veterans with easier access to marijuana. The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs states that veterans will not be denied VA benefits because of the use of marijuana, but encourages patients to discuss any use with their provider.
While there have been many strides forward, there is still a long way to go. The Grove is proud to help spread awareness about the benefits of cannabis and to stand with everyone who has helped share their stories and knowledge throughout the past few years.