Everyone in weed wants to hug a veteran, says Sean Kiernan, CEO of the non-profit Weed for Warriors Project, but legalization hasn’t been especially kind to the veteran’s community. While vets overwhelmingly favor MED research, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides veterans with medical care, remains opposed, and of course its doctors can’t prescribe a federally illegal drug.
The many veterans who believe cannabis helps them cope with PTSD, pain suicidal ideation and other conditions aren’t waiting for the government’s approval. But the legal market has created a new set of challenges. In particular, its too expensive. Weed for Warriors’ activities range from giving away product to veterans in need to policy advocacy. WeedWeek recently spoke with U.S. Army vet Kiernan about the problems created by legalization.
- In California, where an eighth can cost $40, it can cut deep into the $3,000 fully disabled veterans receive monthly, he said. “We call it rich kids legalization,” he said. Meanwhile the illegal market, to which veterans are relegated, gets criminalized again. In other states, where product costs more, he’s seeing the same thing happen.
- WfW supports a campaign to fix California’s REC law, through a ballot initiative, a huge and expensive undertaking. The proposal would cut taxes and loosen regulations. “You don’t have an alcohol black market in California,” he said, because “It’s accessible and affordable.”
- “Any intelligent person can see fixing our problem helps the industry.”
Regarding industry support, Kiernan, he said it’s a mixed bag. He has some allies who generously support WfW with generous amounts of free near-expired product, but he implies other places toss him a few pre-rolls and want to get their picture taken.
- He spoke highly of Vaporizer brand PAX which recently released a limited edition Veteran’s Day pod to benefit WfW. PAX COO Steven Jung is a former Army Captain and the company gives veterans a 20% discount.
At the federal level, Kiernan isn’t too thrilled with what he sees either.
- In particular he opposes The Veterans MED Safe Harbor Act which some have referred to as an equity bill for veterans. Kiernan said it wouldn’t bring any benefits and would serve as a “glad hand” to accelerate banking reform.
- “Money buys access and our voice gets drowned out,” he said.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, help is available at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.