CULTIVATE WITH SCOTT SWAIL & DREW EMMER
Cannabis Over Opiates: Removing Barriers for Vets & First Responders
Meet Roger Martin, army veteran and former law enforcement officer. It’s his mission to expand affordable access to medical cannabis for veterans and first responders through the non-profit he founded, HeroGrown (formerly Grow For Vets).
Learn how HeroGrown is paving the way for safe legal access (and even VA reform) to plant-based wellness.
Then stick around while Scott and Drew bust a cannabis myth. Yes, your terps are safe with Boveda. Get your own cannabis questions answered—tweet #AskBoveda.
In the fight to legalize cannabis, there is one cause that many advocates cite as their main objective: to get American veterans access to the plant.
Medicinal cannabis has shown efficacy in treating both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain, conditions that are quite common for vets. An average of 22 soldiers commit suicide every day due to PTSD. Since cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, many vets refrain from using or must keep it a secret to prevent losing their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Conventional medicine, such as powerful and habit-forming benzodiazepines for PTSD and opiates for pain, is typically provided to veterans who suffer from these conditions. The VA will not prescribe medicinal cannabis, even in states where it is legal. While the government did recently announce that VA doctors are allowed to discuss cannabis with patients, the conversation ends there.
Thousands of veterans could potentially avoid a lifetime of prescription drug abuse and the powerful side-effects if allowed to try cannabis as an alternative.
CANNABIS: A SAFE ALTERNATIVE FOR THOSE WHO STRUGGLE
The non-profit HeroGrown (formerly known as Grow For Vets) is fighting to get American warriors access to medicinal cannabis. The group’s mission is to raise awareness, advocate and assist veterans, first responders and their families with the use of cannabis as a safe alternative to deadly prescription drugs. The group currently serves more than 40,000 people.
“There are over 20 million military veterans and tens of millions of active and retired first responders,” HeroGrown founder Roger Martin said. “In the shadows, millions of these heroes are desperately struggling with addiction to deadly drugs prescribed for service-related injuries and psychological issues. With an American dying every 5 minutes from these drugs, it is our mission to fight for the right of American heroes to choose cannabis as a safe alternative.”
FOUNDER’S CHRONIC PAIN INSPIRED THE HEROGROWN MOVEMENT
For Martin, and many other advocates, the connection to cannabis is personal.
“Since founding this tax-exempt organization, I have insisted that the focus of any discussion be not on me, but on the American heroes that I am honored to serve every day. So, as far as my personal relationship with cannabis and pain goes, I will be brief:
“Living in constant pain is something that I have dealt with for more than 40 years and is actually the reason that I became involved with cannabis. In fact, were it not for the prescription drugs doctors prescribed for the treatment of my chronic pain, the HeroGrown Foundation would probably not exist today.
“I was prescribed OxyContin for chronic pain shortly after it hit the market.
“Cannabis literally saved my life in 2010 by allowing me to break a 10-year, 180 mg-a-day addiction to what I believe should be more accurately labeled OxyPoison. I also found it necessary to take dangerous amounts of Ambien, just to be able to sleep one-to-two hours a night. I have been free of both of these ‘killer pills’ for more than seven years.”
PLANTS OVER PRESCRIPTION PILLS
Having experienced the struggle many go through once prescribed powerful medications, Martin knew there were others out there who could possibly benefit from medicinal cannabis.
“Thousands of heroes who have joined our ranks were once taking 20 or more prescription medications a day and, despite the fact that virtually all physicians now recognize that opiates are worthless for the treatment of chronic pain, almost all [patients] were taking at least one opiate,” Martin explained.
“Employers and insurance companies are fine with someone taking potentially fatal amounts of highly addictive, mind-and-mood-altering prescription drugs. It is an obscene injustice that these same employers and insurers punish brave Americans who chose medical cannabis as a safe alternative. That is why I am dedicated to fighting to end this discrimination.”
SENDING FREE CBD TO VETS & FIRST RESPONDERS IN NEED
“The high cost of obtaining medical cannabis is the number one concern of our members,” Martin said.
So HeroGrown started the CBD AirDrop program. Each month, the group sends CBD products to veterans and first responders in need. Each HeroGrown Hope Box is filled with hemp-based CBD products, which were donated by various companies throughout the country to help ease the pain and save the lives of American soldiers.
Unfortunately not every member can receive the free products. Because of high demand and limited supply, recipients are randomly selected from a pool of HeroGrown applicants. How you can help.
“We are also in the process of implementing our nationwide Hero Discount Program in legal jurisdictions. Our members will be able to purchase cannabis products at a substantially reduced cost.”
Martin said that one of the main issues plaguing the cannabis industry is the refusal of health insurance companies to pay for the medicine. This forces many patients either to obtain marijuana cheaply on the illegal black market or to forego using the medicine at all.
“As part of our legislative efforts, we are working to allow veterans and first responders currently being treated by a licensed physician for post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, as well as other serious medical conditions, to simply submit a letter from their physician to obtain a free medical cannabis card,” Martin said. “This will eliminate the requirement for warriors to spend hundreds of dollars on standard application and state fees in order to receive their card.”
Legalization is Coming—Eventually
HeroGrown aims for all veterans and first responders to get access to medicinal cannabis if they could potentially benefit from it. Since founding in 2014, the group has donated more than $2 million in free cannabis products.
Martin is proud of the work the organization has already done but knows the path to full veteran access is still a long one.
“I am done waiting for the federal government to take action,” Martin said. “This is why we are currently working at the state level to get legislation passed that will stop employers and health insurers in states where medical cannabis is legal from unfairly testing for the use of cannabis, while turning a blind eye to the overuse of dangerous prescription drugs.
“Our heroes are the tip of the spear in this effort. However, passing legislation will have far-reaching effects for all Americans.”
When you help others, you help yourself
Everyone—whether a vet or not—has the right to medicinal cannabis. Those who’ve protected us and our freedoms deserve to find relief, a way out of addiction and healing through flower. Normalize this medicine for them. And for you. Please donate.
Join the fight—GIVE To HeroGrown
Boveda is the leading sponsor of HeroGrown. HeroGrown is a 501(c)(19) nonprofit organization, so your donation is tax deductible to this tax-exempt war veterans’ organization, which consists of at least 90% war veterans.
In the upcoming months, Boveda will share stories from some of the heroes you’ve helped through HeroGrown.
GOT A QUESTION FOR DREW AND SCOTT | USE#ASKBOVEDA ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Does Boveda absorb terpenes?
No, Boveda does not “steal” your terpenes, those aromatic oils in cannabis. Boveda’s patented humidity control absorbs only water vapor that’s in the headspace of your cannabis container. (If your flower is too dry, Boveda gives off water vapor to reach a precise RH level that’s perfect for cannabis.) Absorbing and giving off water vapor—that’s what makes Boveda 2-way humidity control. BTW, the salt-based solution in Boveda is the most precise way to achieve and maintain the proper moisture level to retain all the therapeutic properties of your cannabis. As Drew said, try Boveda for yourself. Let him know what you think.
“Terpenes play a key role in differentiating the effects of various cannabis strains. Some terpenes promote relaxation and stress-relief, while others promote focus and acuity.”
By Rachelle Gordon
Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and educator in the cannabis space. She has dedicated herself to informing others about the powers of plant medicine after witnessing her father’s struggle with epilepsy (and subsequent stroke) in her childhood.
Rachelle’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda of any of the products, services or opinions of Rachelle. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Rachelle Gordon for answers to questions regarding her content.