Since the enactment of the adult-use cannabis legalization law in California in 2018, medical patients who relied on cannabis were faced with the disappearance of cannabis donations, enabled partly by loose regulations, and a significant rise in cost when buying from licensed shops.
Veterans have been among the most vocal patient advocates, each sharing similar stories. Many have dealt with complex and severe injuries connected to their military service, were treated with risky legal pharmaceuticals like opioids and sedatives, and ended up experiencing debilitating side effects – and sometimes near-fatal outcomes.
Many of these veterans have since found cannabis to a better tool for managing their conditions and improving their quality of life.
The Veterans Compassion Network, an effort led by independent advocacy group Veterans Cannabis Coalition and supported by veteran non-profits and cannabis industry participants, is intended to meet the demand for cannabis in the veteran community by providing free, compassionate product donations and continuing education on potential medical applications, current research, and home cultivation.
“Veterans are dying for lack of effective treatment alternatives to the slew of pills they're given, which often simply mask the symptoms and create additional health problems in the process," Eric Goepel, founder of the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, told Benzinga. "Cannabis is not a silver bullet to the suicide and overdose epidemic that has killed more 100,000 since 9/11, but it can be a powerful means to help stabilize and heal.
"As Congress and the federal government ignores this issue, we are working with partners to ensure that through the Veterans Compassion Network cost is not a barrier to access to medicine that works for them."