Serving in the military can come with its fair share of lasting challenges, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. A large percentage of veterans report struggling with PTSD, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, chronic pain or injury, and other potentially debilitating conditions. These are all ailments that cannabis has been reported to treat, many falling under the qualifying conditions for states’ medical cannabis programs across the country, but the military’s stigma against the plant may keep veterans from accessing it.
In 2020, more and more veterans have turned to cannabis despite the risk of losing crucial VA benefits to help ease substance abuse, manage their PTSD, anxiety and depression, and treat symptoms of chronic pain. As veterans have delved further into the cannabis world, they’ve begun making cannabis more accepted and accessible within their community. The following organizations are dedicated to increasing safe access to cannabis while protecting military veterans’ rights, freedoms, and health.
One of the most notable organizations for veterans who use cannabis is the Veteran’s Cannabis Group (VCG). Led by an advocacy group of “veterans for veterans,” VCG provides education and safe access to cannabis for veterans, as well as an overview of VA resources and benefits. The organization works to connect veterans to one another within the cannabis industry, allowing for collaboration and innovation.
Founded by Army veteran Sarah Stenuf, Veteran’s Ananda Inc. is dedicated to helping armed service members and their families. The organization provides a “one-stop-shop” of sorts for veterans seeking support, rest, care, and an array of alternative treatments and therapies, including but not limited to cannabis. Their goal is to encourage a more holistic approach to post-military life, offering long-term healing programs with promise.
The Veteran’s Cannabis Coalition stands for three things: research, reform, and restoration. The organization aims to end the stigma and prohibition of cannabis amongst military workers, offering research and development of cannabis-based treatments through the VA. The VCC places emphasis on the racist backgrounds of cannabis prohibition used as a means to target and criminalize Black people and other people of color. The organization was founded by Eric Goepel, a veteran who is a major advocate for cannabis use as an alternative to the addictive and harmful opioids most veterans are prescribed for their conditions.
Simply Pure originated as a dispensary in Colorado — the first Black-owned dispensary the state has ever seen. Formed by husband and wife Scott Durrah and Wanda James (both military veterans), the dispensary has morphed into a brand that offers CBD products for many ailments and is particularly popular with veterans and athletes.
Veterans Walk and Talk (VWAT) is pretty self-explanatory: veterans walking and talking. The group was formed in 2016, holding space for veterans all over the country. VWAT is based in Southern California with chapters in Oklahoma and Sacramento, and their mission is to empower veterans to take control of their own healing journeys. The groups go on self-reflective walks and share their experiences. VWAT also helps their members find employment, pitches in with their local communities, and fiercely advocates for social justice, veterans rights, and drug policy reform.
Founded in 2013 by Marine veteran Hunter Garth, the Iron Protection Group is a cannabis security company for veterans. The company offers cash transport services to and from licensed growers, dispensaries, processing facilities, and other cannabis business aspects. Aside from the cannabis industry, the IPG also provides security services to non-cannabis businesses like hotels or upscale apartment buildings.
Formed as a means to fight for veterans’ access to cannabis, the Veteran’s Cannabis Project considers the VA to be an aging and ineffective system that desperately needs reform. Led by a team of cannabis-advocating veterans, the organization shares stories of veterans whose lives have been changed for the better by cannabis use. They are dedicated to educating and supporting veterans all over the country when it comes to the benefits of cannabis.
The Colorado-based Extract Labs was formed by veterans, for veterans. The company boasts high-quality CBD for reasonable prices, offering a wide array of products to treat a variety of ailments. Extract Labs also offers analytical services for any CBD brand that needs lab testing, guaranteeing a 24-48 hour turnaround on results.
Former Navy officer Joseph Ketterer founded Candle with the Cure in 2016 — spoiler alert, the cure is CBD! Offering a variety of candles with holistic remedies, Candle with the Cure products are responsibly-sourced and safe for humans and animals alike.
Based in Minnesota, Nothing But Hemp’s hemp oil and CBD oil products can be found for sale all over the state, as well as select locations in Florida and Nevada. Founder and CEO Steven Brown is a veteran who advocates for CBD and the positive impact it could have on veterans and active soldiers alike should it be legalized for military use.
Operation Educating Veterans About Cannabis (EVAC) is an Oakland-based non-profit dedicated to assisting military vets discover how both the plant and the community can benefit their lives. Fostering a mission of “supporting the growth and healing of veterans through mutual assistance, personal development, and community service,” Operation EVAC runs several support groups at cannabis dispensaries and online. Founder Ryan Miller, who served in the Marine Corps from 1998-2002, formerly worked at Harborside Health Center, where he initiated the dispensary’s military veteran support group, Harborside Heroes.
- Weed for Warriors Project
The Weed for Warriors Project is a social justice lifestyle brand that aims to reflect the needs of veterans. The group participates in community-based projects, proactive care, and cannabis education for overall veteran empowerment. They work to advocate for free access to legal, medical cannabis for veterans.
Are you a fan of a veteran-owned brand or organization that we missed? Leave a comment below to give some well-deserved attention to any of your favorite veteran-focused organizations.